This is difficult for me to do. I am not one to willingly share details about my personal trials. I do this in the hope that it will help me to better deal with my emotions. With that said, my path seems to pale in comparison with the other stories I have read on this blog.
I have had a pretty easy ride for most of my life. I didn’t come from money or a very privileged home, but I was surrounded by awesome parents, siblings, and friends who loved and cared about me. I never struggled with school or work. I married my husband shortly after graduating high school in 2005. We were blessed with 2 perfect little boys and good jobs. I have worked as a police dispatcher for almost four years now. It is a very stressful but rewarding job.
My major symptoms started in about October of 2012. I experienced a severe case of anemia in which I lost almost 30 lbs within two months time and a good amount of my beautiful hair. My doctor tried for several months to figure out the source of my bleeding but couldn’t provide me with any answers. I grew frustrated with the doctors and bills and decided to treat myself with iron pills and an iron rich diet. My health leveled out but I was still very fatigued and felt sick.
As mothers know, my health was put on the back-burner as we got busy with family, work, and other things. My husband received a job offer in another state, and he moved ahead of us in January of this year. I was continuing to work nights and live as a single mother during the next 3 1/2 months. During that time, I started experiencing what I now know to be Raynaud’s phenomenon. I would be sitting at work, and my hands would go white and numb. It was terrifying. I blamed it on my back and maybe some pinched nerves, which helped me to ignore the issue.
We made the big move at the end of March to Spokane, WA. I started with a new employer, and we were very busy trying to find a house. My plate was overflowing, and I was struggling to deal with it all. In the middle of May, my fingers became swollen and painful. In a job where I am typing constantly throughout the day, you can imagine my dilemma. The symptoms worsened within a matter of a week, and I was taking the maximum dosage of naproxen sodium allowed by my doctor. It would take me almost 2 hours to get moving in the morning. My entire body was swollen, and it was painful just to walk. When my lab results came back, there was a strikingly positive ANA factor, and at that point I was referred to a rheumatologist. I saw him in mid-June, and he immediately put me on prednisone and Plaquenil to start treating my symptoms. He initially felt it was Lupus but was hesitant to diagnose me with it without more tests. The prednisone improved my condition significantly. I felt so much better, but I was terrified as I neared the bottom of the bottle. A few days after I ran out, the pain and cramping returned to my hands, wrists, and feet, but not as badly as before. When I finally saw the doctor, he diagnosed me with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and put me on a regimen of methotrexate, Plaquenil, and folic acid. It was surreal as I followed up with research. I was truly in denial about having a disease. It was an emotional roller coaster for the month following as I tried to digest this diagnosis and the implications for our future. The methotrexate is a weekly dosage. Initially, it made me very sick and fatigued. I couldn’t really function and struggled to maintain our house, let alone entertain my two young boys during their summer vacation. I just finished my fifth dose, and for the first time was free of the nauseous feelings. I am still very fatigued and short of breath and therefore have a lot of tests ahead of me.
I feel quite fortunate to have been so blessed by my Heavenly Father. He has given me the strength I need to deal with these trials. After reading so many of your stories on this page, I feel it a miracle that I was diagnosed so quickly and that my symptoms were so minor in comparison to most of the brave women on this website. I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my story in such a forum, and I already find myself feeling lighter for having shared my story. Thank you for giving me your time.
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.
This story 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.