Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Aubrey and I’ve been living (quite begrudgingly) with Rheumatoid Arthritis for more than two years now. That’s not a lot of time to become an “expert” about any subject (with the possible exception of “types of celery”) and I hope I never become so presumptuous as to consider myself one. What I am, though, is a woman determined to fight this disease and to help others do the same.
My story begins February 15, 2008. That’s the day my son, Avery, was born. My twin daughters, Alana and Alexis, were two and a half. Just as I did with the girls, I started breastfeeding Avery from day one. He took right to it and we had no problems whatsoever. He was an almost perfect baby! It broke my heart to put him in daycare when he was eight weeks old, but I was needed at my job.
In June of that year, I took one of my thrice daily breaks at work to pump in the supply closet. I sat on the floor “criss-cross applesauce” style like I always did. After a few minutes I realized that my lower legs and feet had fallen asleep. It was really unusual and my knees ached for about an hour after I was done. This worsened over the next few days until I figured it was worth a call to the doctor.
My doctor diagnosed me with Baker’s Cysts. He commented that it was unusual to have it in both knees, but he prescribed Naprosyn and said to come back if it got worse. A quick conference with Dr. Google revealed that I didn’t have any classic symptoms of Baker’s Cysts. There were no cysts to be seen or felt in the backs of my knees so I couldn’t figure out why he thought that was the issue. But I figured it couldn’t be anything too serious, and knowing that Naprosyn is not conducive to breastfeeding, I took it occasionally if the pain got really bad.
In September, the knee problems drastically worsened. I could no longer sit like that on the floor and just walking around in the normal routine of the day made my knees ache for hours. I called another doctor in the same practice and went in for another appointment. She did blood work and X-rays of my knees, but said everything was normal. She again prescribed Naprosyn and said that if it worsened, I should call her office so they could refer me to a rheumatologist. Being that my great-aunt has been almost completely disabled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis since before I was born, I knew what that meant, but convinced myself that couldn’t possibly be the issue. My great-aunt is related to me by marriage and everyone knows that RA is genetic, right? Besides, my blood work was all normal and that would surely have shown it, wouldn’t it? Oh, how little I knew!
In November we made our annual Thanksgiving trip from Eastern NC to my parents’ house in TN. While we were there, the pain in my knees suddenly spread to my ankles and hips. The day we left to go home, every joint in my body was screaming. Did you know that RA can affect your jaw? Your shoulders? Your tailbone? I didn’t either!
There’s a lot about Rheumatoid Arthritis I didn’t know then. I’ll share more of what I’ve learned since then and the rest of my story in my next post. In the meantime, if you’re living with RA or other chronic pain conditions, keep fighting! And know there are plenty of us out there fighting along beside you!
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.