What’s Going On? The First Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am
I thought I would take the next several posts to talk about what the first year of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is like. I’ll talk about what I went through; noticing a few symptoms, realizing the need to see a doctor, handling the diagnosis, experiencing treatments, all the ins and outs of the introduction of RA into a sufferer’s life.
I think the first time I ever realized that there was something not quite right was driving with my mum down Main St. in Gaylord, Michigan. I stopped at a red light and started rubbing my hands because, they ached a lot and it was getting difficult to hold the steering wheel comfortably. My mum asked what was wrong and I said that my hands had been hurting for a few days, but I didn’t really think anything serious about it. A few days later, I noticed that my feet and knees were tender and a bit swollen, and still my hands were aching so I made an appointment with my doctor, and went without any expectation of what she would say.
I told her about my stiff, sore hands and my swollen tender knees and feet. She asked about my energy level, which I said seemed a bit low, but I had assumed it was due to the fact that 8 months before I had major surgery and knew how long it took to completely recover, then she looked at my hands and feet, and said, “I’m pretty sure you have Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
Like I said before, I had no expectations as to what I would hear from my doctor, but Rheumatoid Arthritis was completely out of the blue. “Didn’t old people get this?” I remember my grandmother’s hands and fingers all bent and twisted, and looked at my own. That’s what’s going to happen to me? “This isn’t right, I’m too young!”
She sent me on my way with some information, blood work orders, and a referral to a rheumatologist in Petosky. I drove home, sat at my piano and cried. I’ve played the piano all my life, before I could even write my name, and now I have some stupid disease that is going to rob me of it! My despair turned into anger and I got on the internet and began to stare this condition in the face.
At first, the information I found was a bit discouraging- there’s no known cure, it causes a lot of pain, it can affect other organs, and can shorten one’s life. Wow! I felt great!! (A little bit of sarcasm there) I kept looking and found that there were people who have been living happy, satisfying lives even with RA, and a spark of hope started. I’m a stubborn person and can sometimes be a bit cheeky, so I made the decision right then and there that I was not going to let Rheumatoid Arthritis take a full life away from me, and pretty much told it to bring its A-game because I’m planning on ‘jersying RA and scattering it’s chickens’! (A Canadian term meaning to pull one’s opponents hockey jersey over their head and continue to pummel them.)
The next few weeks were a bit challenging with handling pain, trying to find shoes that didn’t hurt my tender feet (the only ones that worked were men’s sandals, they were ugly and I was not happy about that!!), and waiting to hear the results from my blood work. I wrote down questions to ask my new doctor, and continued to research and fortify my determination to defeat this adversary.
How did you handle your first few days or weeks after hearing the diagnosis of arthritis? What was racing through your mind? Was it a shock or did you have a suspicion? I’d love to hear your story…