10 years ago this coming summer, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was already dealing with diabetes type 2, Hashimoto’s disease (thyroid disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma and allergies.
The diagnosis for rheumatoid arthritis came as a shock. How I was diagnosed is something else. I had not been feeling good for a few days, and I had flu like symptoms. Then one morning I couldn’t move even my pinky toe without wanting to scream. I was like that for 3 days. My husband became concerned and said ‘This can’t be flu. You are going to the doctor’. So to the doctor I went. They had to help me walk in the office! The results from the blood work came back with the results telling me I had rheumatoid arthritis .
I didn’t really know what rheumatoid arthritis meant. Over these 10 years, I have learned what it means. The first rheumatologist I saw was wonderful. He was very knowledgeable, very informative, and helpful. I saw him for about a year, then he moved away. The next two rheumatologists were quacks! They did not care and would yell at me and tell me I was being a baby. My elbows were flared and swollen. They needed to be drained and were infected as well, and here my doctors are telling me I am a baby! Right! So I axed those two. Then Mr. Wonderful, Doc B came on the scene. He was so very caring and helpful. All he wanted to do was help and understand the direction the disease was taking with me and how fast it was progressing. He said I had the aggressive form of the disease. He retires suddenly leaving me to search again for a new rheumatologist. My current rheumatologist, Dr. R., is okay but doesn’t have a lot of compassion. She is all business which is disappointing. So for now, she will stay on board until I find another rheumatologist.
A year ago this coming May, I had to undergo surgery on my right ankle, heel, and big toe. My ankle had to be reconstructed. My heel had to be cut off, fixed, and reattached. My big toe joint had to be fused. It took 3 months to be able to walk on it. This was from damage RA had caused to my ankle and foot. RA damage cannot be reversed but sometimes they can rebuild or replace damaged joints. My wrists are terrible. They are soon to be operated on, as well as my left foot. RA is now affecting my nervous system and muscles. There are drugs I can use to slow this disease down called Biologics. But I cannot get them because my insurance from work will not pay for them and I can’t afford them. The one I was on before under different insurance costs $4,000 a month.
The hardest part of this disease is that my family and friends are not understanding what this disease is and what it is doing to my body. On the outside I don’t look sick. But on the inside I am a mess. Friends and family are the worst at understanding. They don’t understand why I can’t go down stairs to do my laundry, walk long distances, or deep clean my home like it needs. They don’t try to understand, either. This disease is not really arthritis. It’s our immune system attacking our body like it’s the enemy. Every day is a battle of pain for me. Some days are better than others. Pain management specialists are very helpful in dealing with the pain. I thank the Lord for them!
Please, if you know someone with this disease; be there to listen, and help them when you are with them. That’s all I ask. Be respectful enough to help and listen. This disease will one day be my end in some form. But I am battling everyday to take care of my family and I hope that a cure is found.
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 article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.