I came home from work one morning and my index finger hurt like hell, didn’t think much about it I get banged up all the time. I’m a paramedic for a busy 911 service and I work 24-hour shifts. I’m also a wife, mother of three young adults, and grandmother to three grandchildren.
I had just turned 45 when I noticed the first symptoms. The day I decided to call my doctor all the knuckles on both of my hands looked as though they had marble sized water balloons on them. I went to the doctor got an order for blood work and was told it could be up to a week before all the results were in. So I went the next morning around 7AM had blood drawn and the doctor called me at 1PM, the same day, asking if I could come back to the office now.
The news was quick, I was seropositive for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
She made a few calls and pulled some strings and I was being seen by a local rheumatologist that usually has at least a 6-week waiting list. Sure enough after more tests and blood work, RA was the diagnosis. The only family member I have with it is a second cousin on my moms side. So we started off with the usual medications; prednisone and methotrexate, which proved to be of no use.
Now here I am, almost 8 years later the RA has not slowed much. I don’t have any deformities as of yet, but I do have plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel, two sinus surgeries from chronic sinus infections, and allergy shots to help reduce the allergens outside. I have been through eight different medication changes, Achilles tendinitis with a side dose of cubital tunnel in both elbows.
But, here I am still killing it as a medic working 120+ hrs in two weeks. I not only work my regular shifts, but I also fill in for co-workers going to school, special detail of stands for sporting events, show-n-tells, and any other extra events that the county may ask us to do.
I have noticed lately though that I’m having to slow down just a bit, but I will continue to work as long as I can safely do the work. Yes, I have RA, but I will not let it keep me down, I’m “FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL,” the best way I know how.
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.