Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Beginning of The End...

So, in order to further my career, I decided to go back and get my Ph.D. While in theory, a good idea, the result could be disastrous at this point in my life. We'll see.

The point of this post was to describe my annoyance today. I am returning to my Alma Mater for my Ph.D (both for my bachelor's and master's degrees) and today went wandering around the campus that I spent years wandering. However, it took me longer to get everywhere because I had to find elevators. Obviously, as a healthy young college student, I could huff it up a few flights of stairs. Now...going up stairs is barely an option. I feel like a loser going to the elevator when no one can outwardly tell I need to use it. 


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sleepy Saturday

There was no sun this week. None, not since last Sunday. Because I was so tired after dance this morning, I decided to take a nap this afternoon. I wake up, and it's sunny. I feel guilty for not enjoying the sun....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dance and RA

I love to tap dance. I've been doing it since I was six years old, and still remember standing in the foyer of our house in my tap shoes teaching myself the difference between a shuffle and a flap. I dance all the way through high school and just got back into it about 2 years ago.

It's the one thing I refuse to give up so soon because of my RA. Which means I'm typically pounding my aching feet on the floor and probably doing some serious damage to my feet. Despite this, it makes me happy when I perform. It's an accomplishment. 

The reason I felt the need to write about dance tonight was because I fell in class this evening. I messed up a step, tried to correct myself, rolled my ankle, and lost my balance. I caught myself on my hands and fell backwards. My pride was hurt more than anything else. Although my shoulders are starting to hurt from catching myself.

It frustrates me. I used to be the one that remembered every step the week after we learned it. I never had trouble remembering what step came next. And that's what happened tonight. I forgot a step. I used to think about routines all week long, going over them in my head, tap dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Now, I never think about it, because all I have on my mind is how much my feet hurt, or my hands, or my neck. I miss enjoying dance...now it's more frustrating than anything else. 

But I refuse to give it up just yet...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Lucky One...

As I said in my previous post, every person's journey with RA is different. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones...

My New Year's Resolution this year was to lose weight (like it is every year...), but this time I started strong. I was going to the gym in the mornings before work (and anyone who really knows me knows that this is amazing). I was eating well and I was actually starting to lose some of my extra weight. However, I kept having a pain in my right foot whenever I walked on the treadmill. Now, this pain had been there for a couple of months. I though I had kicked my husband in the middle of the night, and maybe bruised the bone. Eventually, it got worse and I went to urgent care. They took an x-ray, which came back negative for any breaks. I was told to take naproxen and rest it when I could. This amused me because one of my hobbies is tap dancing (although I did take a couple of weeks off). Looking back, that was the first symptom. A couple of weeks later, I noticed that when I rode the stationary bike (had to switch from walking for my foot), my hip would cramp up to the point of not being able to lift my leg into the car on it's own. I had to literally reach under my knee and lift it in. Symptom two. Then, we had two crazy snowstorms, very close to one another, and a couple weeks later, my shoulders still hadn't recovered. Symptom three. Then I noticed that my hands always felt like I had slept wrong on them (I like to curl them under my face). Symptom four. I finally decided to see my (new) primary care doctor...it was the first time he ever saw me.

This is where my story makes me lucky. My PCP is apparently a very good diagnostician. He picked up on my symptoms quickly and ordered the necessary blood tests (which were my first ever...I had been a very healthy person). My RH factor was pretty high, as was my sed rate, and my ANA (antinuclear antibody) was also high. ANA tests for autoimmune disorders, like RA and lupus. My doctor put me on a prescription NSAID (like aspirin or ibuprofen).

Less than a week later, I woke up in the middle of the night barely able to move. My knees, hands, shoulders...everything hurt to move. So, that morning, I had my husband take me to the ER. They took more blood, and some x-rays of my knees. The doctor there told me it was either RA or lupus, and put me on prednisone for five days. And what a glorious five days those were, although I felt like I needed to eat every three seconds. This would be the beginning of my love/hate relationship with steroids.

Shortly after all of this, my PCP ordered the tests to determine if it was RA or lupus. The Anti-CCP test came back positive, which meant RA. I went to my new rheumatologist before the results came back, but he knew just from my symptoms what it was. A couple days later...I had RA. 

All in all, from the first inkling that something was wrong to the day that I was diagnosed, it took my doctors less than two months to figure it out. Most people I've read about have had symptoms for 5, 10, 15, 20 years before any doctor would take them seriously. I was a lucky one.

It's been only two more months since my diagnosis, and I have a long way to go to figure out how to live with this. It's not something I can ignore and hope will go away. I've already noticed the limitations I have, and the changes I still have to make. Because I have to live with it.


After finding out that I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I immediately began looking for blogs out there to get a feel for what I was going to go through. And what I've found astounds me, because every person that has RA has their own story. So, I thought I would add my own to the mix. I have yet to find someone out there with the same story as mine...

One other thing I noticed, was RA awareness (and other invisible illnesses) need all the help they can get and I want to be one of the many voices out there helping raise awareness for these diseases.

So here's my story...