Another Diagnosis? Really?
We are all aware that rheumatoid arthritis can bring along ”friends” such as Sjogren’s, fibromyalgia, diabetes, etc. However, we sometimes forget that rheumatoid arthritis affects our entire body, including our internal organs.
My comorbidity diagnosis
I was recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. This means that the smaller chambers of the heart are not beating but are jiggling like gelatin. When this happens, blood is not pumped out of the chambers and can make clots. Blood clots lead to strokes and pulmonary embolisms. Wait a minute! Rheumatoid arthritis already increases our risk for strokes. Adding atrial fibrillation to the mix really multiplies my risk.
My cardiologist was surprised by the results of the 2 week monitor. Based on the symptoms I described, she expected premature ventricular contractions. This happens when the larger chambers of the heart beat too quickly. My atrial fibrillation came with no symptoms and with a slow heart rate. Normally, atrial fibrillation causes a rapid heart rate.
New medication recommendations
To lower my risk of blood clots, the cardiologist recommended a blood thinner. We discussed the issues, and I went home to do additional research and attempt a decision. My biggest concern was that I am clumsy by nature. I run into things all the time, and I already bruise easily. As I researched the medication, I found out that my anti-depressant medication can increase the risk of bleeding with the new medication. The big kicker is that I must stop my osteoarthritis medication (yes, I have both) because it can cause bleeding.
Weighing the pros and cons
When doing research, it is critical to look at the date of the studies and to pull up both “sides” of the research. After thorough research, I was able to make an informed decision. I used my pros and cons list to help. My primary pro won. I am not yet 60 and am the primary provider for my sons. Knowing that my risk of stroke is now high, I want to do what I can to prevent it. At my age, I am more likely to suffer a stroke from a clot, not a bleed.
Juggling the side effects of my medications
This was made more difficult because two days prior I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. I had to stop my rheumatoid arthritis medication while on antibiotics. I had also stopped my supplemental rheumatoid arthritis medication due to a side effect. Now I am off my rheumatoid arthritis medications and my osteoarthritis medication. I hurt in places I forgot I had, plus all the usual places. Thankfully, I restart my rheumatoid arthritis medication in four days. I am careful now to move a little slower, blow my nose more gently, and avoid injury.
I honestly have to say that I am tired of adapting to all that rheumatoid arthritis brings. I also had COVID-19 again in January 2022. It is all a part of living with an autoimmune disease, and most days I cope well. How are you doing? Please share.
Have you taken our Rheumatoid Arthritis In America survey?