I am a 30 year old, mother/step-mother of six great children. I also have a wonderful husband!
I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever on May 28, 2013. Thankfully, I didn’t have a long struggle to find out what was wrong with me, but unfortunately that is where the easy part stopped.
They put me on an extremely high dose of aspirin to fight the inflammation in my joints and organs. I have to take a high dose Penicillin shot once a month for the rest of my life and of course a high dose Prednisone.
The first problem they found was my kidneys were bleeding. Then I started to have internal bleeding from the aspirin eating away at my stomach, so they had to add four new medicines to protect my stomach, as well as Vicodin, Percocet and Dilaudid for the horrible pain. The inflammation in my brain caused a VERY annoying symptom to form called Chorea, causing me to lose control of my muscles at times, as well as some confusion and difficulty focusing, and I become overstimulated very easy. I then started having horrible chest pains, and they found the inflammation was attacking my heart but hoped the aspirin would help.
During a night of horrible chest pain, I went to the ER and found my liver was failing, so they had no choice but to take me off the aspirin. It is a choice between a rock and a hard place; on the aspirin my liver fails, off of it my heart becomes more and more inflamed. They took me off the aspirin and stomach medicines, upped my prednisone, and switched me to 40 mg of Oxycontin twice a day in hopes of making things easier on my liver. We will keep that up until my liver is well enough to go back on the aspirin.
I had what was essentially a mini stroke when the doctors took me off the aspirin, and I was mentally shot for about four days, as well as basically unable to use my left side, but thank God the doctors don’t think it caused any permanent damage. I pray every day to get things under control to the point where we can start to fight instead of fighting to stay alive. The pain has been horrible the last few days, but my mental status has been pretty good, so I guess it’s a fair trade.
I will be left with RA, RAD, risk of rheumatic fever repeats, organ risk and possible failure for the rest of my life, and to think all of this happened in the course of a few months, although it feels like it has been years…
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.