I never thought I'd be a "blogger". Hell, I never thought I'd end up diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 38 years old either. No one in my family has it. They've got everyting else under the sun but not RA. The only person I've ever met with it is my mother-in-law and hers is pretty bad.
How'd it all start? Quite simply. In January of last year (2008) I noticed that I had fluid on the middle joints of both pinky fingers and both middle fingers. It was odd. The fluid just showed up one day. There was no pain. I did have to wrench my rings off. It was like I had tiny water balloons under my skin. I ignored it for a bit but my sister-in-law Cindy convinced me to go to the doctor. I did go. He sent me for blood work and x-rays. I got a letter in the mail saying that the x-rays were clear of anything abnormal but my sed rate and c-reactive protien were both "slightly elevated". The note also said, "take some ibuprofin until it goes away".
I wasn't satisifed with that response and planned to go back but me nephew was in a serious accident and then Cindy got very sick and died so life got in the way.
I did go back to the doc in July when things finally settled down. The fluid was still there. I hadn't been able to were my rings for months. The doc said maybe it was some arthritis but nothing to worry about. He told me to continue with the ibuprofin and come back to see him after our camping trip in August.
Fast-forward to August......During the drive to the ADK the middle finger on my right hand started to swell and it swelled quickly. The tendons in the palm of my hand were stiff. I couldn't move any part of my finger and I couldn't squeeze my pinky and thumb together. My biggest worry.....how the hell was I going to set up camp??? By the time we got there, my finger had doubled in size and the pain was excruciating. I managed to set up camp.....barely.
The next day there was no change. Actually, the swelling may have gotten worse. We went into Saranac Lake for a little shopping. Scott wanted my to go to the ER but no way was I going to sit in an ER on day 1 of vacation with the kids. One of the shop-keepers noticed my finger and thought I got bit by a spider. I assured him I didn't. He suggested I go to Urgent Care instead of the ER so I did.
We arrived at Mountain Medical and I saw Dr. Pond, who happened to run the place. We talked about the past few months and he was pretty concerned. He first suggested the possibility of RA. He took 7 vials of blood, splinted my finger, and gave me a script for an anti-inflamatory pain killer and sent me on my way.
Later that evening, he called me to see how I was. He said that he got a few blood tests back and my sed rate and c-reactive protien were really high. He called the next day to check on me again. By then the Meloxicam he gave me worked wonderfully and the swelling and decreased significantly. He said more bloodowork came back and that I needed to come pick it all up before I left. He said that I should make an appointment with a Rheumatologist as soon as I got home because my RH Factor was at 149. What does that mean? Well, normal is between 0 and 13.9.
When we got home, I made an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon because by now I was thinking that my regualr doc didn't do too much for me. I saw Dr. G and he sent me to a Rheumatologist. In the mean time, I also got a new PCP because I felt that my old one just wasn't working for me anymore. I take my health very seriously and I didn't feel that he was.
While with her, I was taking Methotrexate, which is called a DMARD or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug. Methotrexate is also used for certain types of cancers and it's also a part of "the morning after" drug combo.
Well, after 10 months of that and substandard appointments with the rheumatologist, I have left her and I am moving on to AAIR thanks to Karen. I am going to be starting a study drug in a couple of weeks. I am hoping that it is successful because if not then I have no choice but to go to the biological drugs and that's a whole mess of side effects hat I just don't want to deal with!