Thursday, November 3, 2011
My RA Story- Part 2
Before Nov. 30, 2009, when I went to the doctor, they examined me, diagnosed what was wrong, gave me medication, and I was better within 7-10 days. This was the mental model I had in my head; doctors are supposed to know what the problem is and tell you how to fix it.
My first doctor visit, the family practice doctor, had no clue where to start and referred me to a rheumatology doctor. After four appointments and about every test known to man and little visible swelling except on the back side of my knees and some in the finger joints, everything was inconclusive and I still was in immense pain. My fingers, knees, and believe it or not, the shoulder joint which I felt as sharp jabbing pain in my armpits. Lifting my arms to wash my hair- painful. Buttoning buttons- sometimes impossible.
Finally Prednisone was prescribed...hooray, something to help! Little did I realize this would begin my love/hate relationship with this drug. Prednisone reduced some swelling and my pain, but caused horrible stomach aches, crabbiness (just ask my husband ;) ), and constant hunger no matter how much I ate. It also caused bloating and swelling of the face, my bottom lip still isn't back to "normal". Plus, it wasn't a long-term fix, I could only be on prednisone at any dose for 6 months before risking huge bone issues.
At the same time I was seeing the rheumatologist, he recommended I see an allergist for the hives. The hives wouldn’t go away, so on top of pain I had itchy red bumps. The allergist tested for many allergies and diseases- nothing came back positive.
Meanwhile; the hives weren't going away, so I actually moved out of my house with my fiancée and moved in with my parents to see if this improved the hives. This was incredibly difficult; to imagine not being able to live with my future husband was a deep fear of mine. It didn't improve my health or hives, so back home I went.
The allergist prescribed more allergy medications, and away the hives went after 3 pills and 2 nose sprays a day; finally! However; the pain at the joints continued. Not to mention, now knowing what was wrong was really bothering me….how can we not know after so many months? I just wanted to know what it was, so I could begin to fight “it”.