Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Very Good Place to Start

Well, here it goes. I thought I'd give blogging a go to help me keep my thoughts, feelings and ideas about being recently diagnosed with RA an outlet other than my guy and co-workers (who are probably tired of hearing about it by now). :P 

It all started with a bug-bite. We think. Maybe. 

On Canada Day 2010 my right eye started to hurt. It was a weird feeling, kind-of like I had pulled the muscle behind my eye. I didn't think much of it; just thought I needed more sleep. The next day we went for a weekend trip to a friend's acreage that we were quite looking forward to. As the weekend wore on, my eye got more and more sore, sensitive to light and swollen. By the time we got back into town on Sunday evening I had agreed to go see a doctor about it. The emerg doctor wasn't sure what was wrong but said it looked like an allergic reaction or infection caused by a bug bite of some sort and put me on some antibiotics. 

After 1.5 weeks of antibiotic treatment my eye looked better, but there was little time for celebration. 

One Wednesday evening I was on my way home from work when my feet started to feel quite sore. Again, I didn't think much of it. As I work in a retail flower shop, it's pretty much par for the course to have sore feet by the end of the day. I hadn't counted on not being able to walk by the time I made it from the bus stop to my apartment door. It was a little scary and a LOT painful, but I didn't think much of it and went to bed for the night. 

The next day I was still stiff, but not as sore, so I went to work. By 4pm I was limping from an unexplained pain in my knees. I left work a bit early and went home. Called the AB HealthLink number and was told that the antibiotics I was on probably suppressed my immune system and that any general soreness in the joints I might usually had was probably feeling amplified. 

The following Tuesday I still couldn't get through a day pain-free  and went to see my GP. After having a LARGE amount of blood taken for testing we settled in for the hard part. Waiting. A very, very, very long week of waiting. In the meantime I was put on a painkiller that made me feel a little loopy. I didn't like it very much and it didn't seem to be helping very much either. 

Finally we got some results. My GP wanted to see me and I was nervous. I'd never had a blood test come back positive for anything before and I was scared about what he was going to tell me. I had tested high in both inflammation (this part wasn't news to me) and in rheumatoid factor. The rheumatoid factor being so high (normal is 20; I was over 100) told my doctor that we were probably looking at RA (rheumatoid arthritis). An auto-immune disease that will ebb and flow over my lifetime. 

Terrifying news for me. I didn't really know what it was or what it meant for me. I never would have guessed that it meant living with the kind of pain that can cripple a mostly healthy 20-something, taking a different cocktail of drugs every week until we find something that works to keep my pain manageable (we're pretty close now), waking up and being unable to get out of bed or shower independently some days and being mostly fine on others, learning to use a cane and learning not to be embarrassed that I have to.

All of these are things I've had to quickly adapt to over the last 3-4 weeks. I can't even begin to imagine what I've got coming my way or how adaptive I'm going to have to learn to be. Hopefully I'm up for the challenge and my amazing support system of friends will continue to be there for me as I embark on this new path my life has taken.

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