Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Living with RA: The Beginning

*** This post is part of my Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis series.

It was August in Arkansas. And that meant heat and humidity. The air conditioner in the living room hummed day and night attempting to cool the small house to comfortable levels. Each morning I slowly rolled out of bed and gingerly walked to the living room where the temperature and humidity were at least tolerable.

My arms and fingers, swollen until I almost couldn't wear my shiny new wedding ring, remained numb for the first hour of each day. My ankles and feet barely squeezed into my sandals. Though only 22 years old, I moved as if I were 80. We (myself, my mom and my husband of 3 months) assumed that the swelling was a combination of birth control pills, heat, humidity and too many sodas. So, I stopped taking the pills, cut back on sodas and hoped cooler weather would make the swelling, numbness and pain go away.

We didn't know, then, that the weather, Pill and sodas were secondary causes. The primary cause of my mysterious ailment was Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease in which the body's immune system attacks the lining in the joints. But I'm getting ahead of myself; a specific diagnosis wouldn't come for nearly 3 more years.

Later that fall, now 23 years old and living in Rhode Island, I visited a primary care doctor. He said that I had "arthritis," didn't specify which kind, and prescribed a medication to treat it.

Arthritis didn't seem all that bad. After all, my Grandma always talked about arthritis in her hand and my dad complained about it acting up in his knee when it rained. It didn't feel scary at all. I had a name for my illness and a medication to treat it.

I left the doctor's office feeling confident and relieved. I thought I would just take a little pill each day and my body would be back to normal.  That the inflammation in my hands would disappear and I would jump out of bed each morning.

Boy, was I wrong! But I'll tell that part of the story in my next post.

** Photo from 1998. Taken in Massachusetts.

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one on TV.  This post is intended to tell my experiences NOT to serve as medical advice.  If your symptoms sound similar, please consult a physician.

Disclaimer: I have not been asked by a pharmaceutical company or any related organizations to write these posts. I have not been compensated for these posts in anyway (including money, medication, or medical treatments). 


Carrie said...

I'm excited to be getting to know you a little better through this series, actually! Were you raised in Arkansas?

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

I am anxious to hear the rest. Way to build up the suspense!

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