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Hello & Finally Diagnosed

Hi everybody. I'm a 58 yr old male whose been dealing with symptoms for about 7months. It started in my feet and toes and my family doc did some tests right before I went on an extended vacation out west for a month. I got the call from him that I had a positive RA factor and I needed to get to a rhuematologist as soon as I got back. On the trip I started taking Advil and my feet got a little better but then it hit both my shoulders. When I got back it took another 2-3 weeks to get into a rheumatologist. In the meantime my left knee had swelled up like a football and I could hardly walk(had meniscus scoped on that knee 20 yrs ago). The rheumatologist wasn't convinced of RA because 15 yrs ago I was diagnosed with hep C but was treated and cured. He said that always messes with a correct RA diagnosis. So he gave me some Celebrex, and said come back in 3 months. Meanwhile I just kept getting worse. I iced the knee for a week and finally got the swelling down . The Celebrex just gave me reflux and Advil worked better. Being at the point I could hardly walk or lift my arms over my head. I got back in to the rheumatologist early and he just changed from Celebrex to Tramadol and said come and see me in March. The Tramadol helped a little, but I still kept going downhill. I asked for tests for Lyme and Lupus which came back negative. Meanwhile I'm getting totally disabled in terrible pain and can't even ride in the car. Thankfully my family doc gave me some Hydrocodone to get me by for a few weeks and I found a new rheumatologist. I took her all my blood work last week and she pulled another doz vials and gave me a prednisone shot, which has helped some. I went back to her today and she is confident that I have RA. She wants to put me on Xeljanz. Since I've had hep c she thinks it will be the safest thing to try. But first I had to get a viral count blood test today to make sure the hep c hasn't reactivated. Im pretty confident it hasn't but it's been 5-6 years since I've had that test. Hopefully I can start treatment next week. In the meantime I'm just barely getting by on the predinasone shot, Tramadol, and an occasional Norco.
It's been a frightening and downright frustrating 6-7 months but hopefully now I'm on a positive track. I'm glad I found y'all and hope to contribute my experiences at least as I learn to live with this.

  1. Hi Whit ~

    I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I hope that having one can help you and your doctor head in the right direction as far as finding some relief! I think you made the right move in finding yourself a new rheumatologist when you felt your first one wasn't addressing your issues to the extent you needed. It's important to keep in mind that your rheumatologist works for you - and you can fire them if you need to! The best case scenario is finding a rheumatologist you can work with as a team to identify the best combination of treatments for your unique situation.

    I hope you will be able to get on the Xeljanz soon. Personally, being on a biologic medication has made a huge difference in my quality of life - and I hope it will do the same for you. Please keep us posted and remember that we are here to support you!

    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

    1. Update.
      The Xeljanz works great. I still have some stiffness but I have my life back. Im back to Yoga 3x a week and back at normal living with no side effects that I can determine.
      The problem is Blue Cross has rejected paying for the Xeljanz. Ive been getting by on free samples from the Dr or the company while the appeals process unfolds.
      Lord I hope they come through. The stuff actually works but Id hate to pay the full market price. I shudder to think what it costs. Im comfortable, but certain;y not rich. I prob have too much money to qualify for any assistance but not enough to pay for this stuff the rest of my life.

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