My name is Jessica Wright. You can call me Jessie. I was diagnosed with sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis just over a year ago after a long battle of going to doctors for the last 6 years, or a little more than that. I noticed my first symptoms over six years ago. I had a terrible back pain on one side that was almost a tearing sensation. It lasted a couple of days so I did not think much about it. I worked as a barber at the time so backaches did not surprise me much. But I started getting really fatigued more than usual and having dizzy spells to the point of fainting. I still thought it was from standing and working all day. I still blew it off as nothing. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity of a lifetime by taking over a shop inside of a bank building and also being the only barber there. I made a great living and had a place to retire. Keep in mind, I am in my 30’s so knowing I had the rest of my life planned in that shop was so exiting. I was living life finally and it was going great!
Not too long after I started working there, I began to feel really fatigued to the point of wanting to lay on the floor. I was still thinking it was stress from the new job and standing for long periods. My husband and I took my daughter to the amusement park one afternoon and I became so weak and ill feeling, we went home. As soon as we got home, I started shaking uncontrollably. My husband took me to the ER and they found out that I had mono. That made the third time that I knew of. Besides that, they wanted to give me a Lyme disease test. I went ahead and took the treatment for Lyme’s and they sent me to an infectious disease doctor to test for Lyme disease again. My test from the ER was positive, but when I went to this doctor it was not. So we just chalked it up to mono being the culprit. Well, that was the beginning of my long battle.
I started having muscle twitches in my legs, shaking and nerve sensations all over, and ultimately joint and muscle pain. I had many doctor visits checking for RA, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, and many others. The tests showed nothing. I even saw a couple of rheumatologists, suspecting RA, but my blood work never showed anything. So I was sent to Dallas to a major medical Institution there – still nothing showed up. Keep in mind, this went on for a long period of time. I was then sent to Mayo Clinic. They also told me that they saw nothing and even considered me to have a psychological problem. Let’s just say I left with one, anyway – I was fuming with anger.
Time went on and the symptoms got worse. I just had to figure something out or I just knew I was going to die. The flu-like symptoms were worse than ever. The pain was unbearable and life was beginning to have no meaning to me. I decided to go back to my regular doctor and start over. After sitting at home for a few months, it was time to see someone before I died. I was that sick. He did an ana antibody to check auto-immune disease. It was a low positive so he diagnosed me with lupus until I could see the rheumatologist he set me up with which was 5 months later. In the meantime, I was so sick my dad decided I needed to go check out these natural supplements that were supposed to help with my symptoms – and they did immediately. I finally had my appointment with my rheumatologist. I was not expecting anything since they had not found anything in the last few years. What would be different, I thought. I prepared myself for a huge letdown again.
I saw him that day. He did x-rays, which no one else did, and within 15 minutes of going home his office called me. “You have rheumatoid arthritis. It is in all of your joints. You need to get on Methotrexate, Plaquenil, ….” and some other meds they were spouting off at the time. I was still at rheumatoid arthritis. I could not believe it. I finally had my diagnoses. I cried because I finally had my answer. I cried because I have rheumatoid arthritis. But I am so happy that I have a diagnoses finally and so is my family.
Today I am not working as a barber. I had to quit my dream job because of my disease, but I am a jewelry designer at home now, loving life and closer to my family than I have ever been. I also wanted to say that my RA is sero-negative. That’s why it never showed in my blood work. If they would have done simple x-rays to begin with, it may have been caught sooner – but things happen for a reason. I love my life, and I appreciate the struggles that got me to this point.
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.