Diagnosis: RA (part 6)

In part 4 I told of my decision to stop all NSAIDs and how I actually felt better after I did that. In the 6 weeks between my August appointment with my Rheumatologist and my September appointment with my Rheumatologist, I only had one day where I took any OTC pain meds. While we were on our vacation, I developed a migraine at one point. So, for that I took a migraine pill or two. For my RA though, I took nothing during that time.

Shortly after I returned from vacation I had my next appointment with the Rheumatologist. I was already kicking myself for setting a 8am appt in St. Augustine so soon following our return. Suffice to say, I was less than thrilled at 8:10am when the nurse informed me that the doctor had just called and was only now leaving her house. It would be 20 minutes if I wanted to wait. I waited.

In the mean time, I asked the nurse if I could get a copy of my blood work from my previous visit. She also gave me copies of the reports from my x-rays. By the time the doctor arrived, I didn’t even need the doctor. I had all the pertinent info that I was concerned with obtaining.

The doctor reviewed the x-ray results (which said nothing because they didn’t see anything) and asked about pain meds I was taking. She acknowledged that I had reported a bad reaction to Naprelan, but she said, “I’ve never heard of it doing that before.” (This is something that burns me butt about doctors…denial. Things that are flat out stated in the precautions for medications and they feign ignorance and disbelief.) I shrugged off her denial and she asked about what OTCs I was taking. I said, “Nothing.”, but she replies, “So, you’re taking ibuprofen & aspirin?”. I politely reiterated that I had been taking neither ibuprofen & aspirin and I also told her that I had been feeling better. She immediately began squeezing my joints to assess my pain. Tender, but improved.

Next, she asks me how I am doing taking Plaquenil. I inform her that I did not start the Plaquenil because she had told me that I needed an eye exam and approval from my eye doctor before I could start it. (I realize it was only a partial truth on my part, but I see no benefit of trying to explain to her my concerns after she denied that Naprelan can cause swelling from fluid retention which can lead to heart failure.) She tells me that I misunderstood her & that only if I was 40 or older would I need to eye exam prior to starting the medication. Since I was under 40, I could take it & then get an eye exam. I guess my eyesight is less important prior to age 40.

I patiently and silently waited while she wrote out all of the instructions for how I was to take the Plaquenil. This time she wrote me a prescription to see the eye doctor too. Now all is fine and dandy and I’m to return in two months. Oh, yeah, she actually said I had “early RA”.

Unfortunately, over the past month my pain & swelling have returned. I have only had one night in that time where I experienced so much pain at night that I had to take aspirin to help me sleep. On 3 or 4 occasions I took Advil PM because my hands were really aching at bedtime.

To clarify: I am not taking Plaquenil. The thought of taking something that suppresses one’s immune system seems foolish to me. As I sit here with a wonderful head cold, I ponder what having a suppressed immune would lead to and am grateful I am not taking it. Most recently I have read that most of the people taking these routinely prescribed drugs in the past 20 years are either dead or disabled. Sound real promising. Another tell-tale sign is that the first 10 parking spaces at the rheumatologist office are for the disabled. Something’s obviously not working.

The other side of this, the alternative options, are not providing me with much enthusiasm yet. I’m hopeful that there is something, someone with real advice for alternative therapies. So far, everything I have come across sounds the skepticism alarm. Everyone has a product to sell.

It’s a bit discouraging, but I’m continuing to pray for an answer…a real answer. I’m convinced it’s out there. And I’m also convinced that God has a plan in this.


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