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.