It’s been several weeks since I first posted about receiving a diagnosis for Rheumatoid Arthritis (herein known as RA). In that time I’ve been doing a lot of waiting. I waited to see the Rheumatologist. I waited to get more blood work done. I waited to see the Rheumatologist for a follow-up.
(Medicine has become very inefficient in this country…making me run from appointment to appointment – from county to county – from doctor to doctor, but I guess that’s a topic for another day.)
Today was my follow-up appointment with the Rheumatologist. Unlike my GP doctor, she did not share my blood test results with me. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t ask for a copy. Anyway, she told me in the most non-committal medical diagnosis way possible that it’s probably RA.
She also drew the conclusion that my back pain must not be too bad since I wear heeled sandals and haven’t acquired any more shoe wedges. Because “if” it was bad, you know, I would definitely do something. I don’t know what she thinks I’ve been trying to do for 3 yrs. Trust me, it was never my intention to seek out parenting advice & anti-homeschooling arguments from orthopedists & rheumatologists.
Again, I’ve strayed from my main topic….
Apparently, RA is hard to diagnose without witnessing the physical effects such as gnarled hands that happen when left untreated. The RA factor being high is only an “indicator”, but these additional blood tests for lupus & whatever else were supposed to rule out other possibilities. I guess they did, but even that doesn’t make RA an automatic clear diagnosis.
So, I’m off for more tests tomorrow. Having my hands & feet x-rayed. She also wanted to do a chest x-ray, but said the insurance “might” give me a hard time. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t speak up and say, “Who cares? Do the x-ray if you think it’s necessary & I’ll worry about fighting with Cigna if it comes to that.”
In addition to the x-rays, she is having me take prednisone for 3 days which could give another RA indication if it relieves my pain. I was not and am not thrilled with taking steroids…again…because of what happened to me last time…and the battle of the weight gain I have been fighting ever since. She sort of empathized but said it was only for 3 days & shouldn’t have those kinds of affects. Then she told me to limit my “intake”. Great! Just prescribe me some of those magical I’m-not-hungry pills & I’ll be fine.
What comes next is what I am not really not ready for…the possible treatment. It’s an anti-malaria drug they have been prescribing for RA for about 10-15 yrs. She wrote it down & told me to look it up. Since I had to get my prednisone, I asked the pharmacist about the RA treatment. As we chatted he printed off a drug information sheet for me. He was very helpful in helping me understand this other drug & other possible treatments. I’m just not crazy about suppressing my immune system to keep the RA in remission.
I dialed the phone as I drove out of the pharmacy parking lot. I’m going to try to see or at least talk to a different type of practitioner at the end of our westward vacation in September. I’ve heard from several sources that RA can be successfully treated through nutrition. Exploring that seems more reasonable to me than suppressing my immune system. and I can already tell that natural options are not going to be popular with this Rheumatologist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she’s a bad doctor. I’m sure she treats her patients the best way she knows how. I just don’t think that way is the way for me.
Symptomatically speaking, I have been in more pain in recent weeks in my hands especially. Even she noticed how swollen my hands were today. While I can make a fist, just don’t ask me to grip anything. Opening something like a soda bottle or vitamin bottle is disturbingly painful. Honestly, my hands weren’t in that much pain two months ago. Don’t know if it’s just psychosomatic from finally knowing what’s causing me pain or if this is really getting worse. Time will tell, I suppose.