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When RA Seems Secondary

When I was diagnosed with lupus and RA in 2008, I never imagined that anything worse could ever happen to me.

It seemed like being diagnosed with multiple incurable chronic illnesses was as bad as life was ever going to get.

And then something worse happened.

On August 11th, there was widespread and terrible flooding in Michigan. I was out for dinner with my boyfriend to celebrate my 29th birthday, and when we arrived home, I started seeing all of this stuff about the flood on Facebook.

I texted my mom to see if my family was okay and she responded that she didn’t know where my dad was.

I descended into worry and despair like I have never felt before.

My dad was missing?

My dad worked about 45 minutes away from home, near an area that was experiencing the worst of the flooding. He texted my mom to say that he was trying to find higher ground and would contact her when he could.

At 6 a.m. on August 12th, my sister texted me to say that my dad never came home. My sister, my mom, and my aunt had already gone out looking for my dad. They didn’t really know where he last was, so they then enlisted the help of every area police department, although most would not take the missing concept seriously for 24 to 48 hours; even with the flooding and my mom explaining that my dad coming home even an hour late was totally out of the norm.

My dad ended up being found dead in his car. We found out about 24 hours after we hadn’t heard anything from him. He was in a safe neighborhood, in an area that was high and dry, so the exact circumstances around his death remain unknown, although there was no evidence of foul play.

My dad died on Tuesday and the funeral was Thursday, so despite my grief, my boyfriend and I had to make immediate arrangements to travel from New York to Michigan.

I spent the last two weeks in Michigan trying to come to terms with the horrible loss that my family suffered.

It still doesn’t seem real.

Given all of this, I would have expected to have a major flare, but that hasn’t happened.

And someone recently told me that they hope my illnesses are giving me a break during this difficult time. But honestly, I would welcome that pain. My emotional pain and physical pain would then match.

Right now, I’m trying to transition back into real life, and I am wishing that all of this was just some horrible nightmare, but it’s not.

Like I said, having lupus and RA was really the worst thing I could ever imagine having to deal with in my life. But this is so much worse, so much worse.

And right now, I can’t imagine – and hope I never have to find out – what is worse than this.

I dedicate this post to the memory of my dad:

 Neal Barry Rott

December 17, 1951 – August 12, 2014

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Connie Rifenburg
    5 years ago

    Oh, when we experience the terrible loss of a parent we go through such a sadness. I am so very sorry for the awful loss you are feeling right now. I am hoping that you have a belief system that helps you to know you will see your father again one day. RA is a terrible disease on a daily basis, we cope with it, but the loss of a parent wounds a place that even medicine can’t touch. My heart goes out to you and your family. Take care of yourself.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • Tamara Haag moderator
    5 years ago

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I send you thoughts of strength and comfort during this very painful time.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • Kellie
    5 years ago

    I am very sorry for your loss. I hope that you and your family will be some comfort to each other.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • Robin K. Blum
    5 years ago

    What awful news. So sorry you suffered the loss of your father. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing to you and your family.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words.

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