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There’s Always Evidence

I speak about my seronegative Rheumatoid Disease often because it irritates me. I am a scientist so it does bother me! I strongly believe there is a reason for everything so seronegative or completely normal blood work and x-rays don’t work for me.

A furry reminder

My eldest dog, Affie, reminded me of this recently. She is over 13 years old and except for a recent foray into congestive heart disease, she has no other health issues. She doesn’t even really have health “issues” at all. Her exercise tolerance is higher than her younger hound sister and she frequently goes for longer walks. However, over the course of a few months, A started urinating more often.

It’s important to note this could be normal. She is a small dog and well over geriatric age. Maybe it is more difficult for her to hold her bladder, maybe it’s just incontinence. No. In this case, I don’t think it was just age. Urinating every 45 minutes to an hour from every 4 is not right, even for an old dog.

We checked for UTIs. None. We checked her liver and kidney functions. Normal. We even ultrasound for stones. Zip. We were left with either behavioral issues or the beginning of kidney disease (it only shows up in animal blood work after a certain amount of function loss). There was no medical evidence but something was not right. This didn’t feel like pure house-breaking issues but based on the evidence I just had to consider Affie was getting older.

My dogs are on a very heart healthy home-cooked diet so high protein, low fat. Unfortunately, the kidneys hate high protein. I researched a new balanced diet that favored both the heart and the kidneys. And then it hit me. Yogurt.

Before I go on, let me preface this by saying I do not think yogurt is bad for the kidneys and when adding anything in larger amounts it is best to talk to your doctor.

Article after article agreed yogurt could stress already-compromised kidneys. Yogurt is high in phosphorus and protein; two things kidneys don’t like.

We’ve always given our dogs a tablespoon of yogurt after their afternoon meal for its probiotic goodness. Affie also gets a yogurt snack before bed.

Without realizing it I was giving her more yogurt than probably was good for her. I stopped it completely and within days her urination returned to normal. I was stressing her kidneys, which in turn increased her urination. Aha! There was a reason. Her kidneys were healthy but just old and even that small amount of yogurt stressed them out!

The mystery of seronegative RA

I return to the age-old question, do I have RA? My blood work is normal and my x-rays are beautiful. Given my symptoms, I would have thought I would see some damage after eight years. I asked my rheumatologist and he said we’ve always been very aggressive with treatment so it’s quite possible I won’t see the damage.

Do I have RA? I don’t doubt there is some inflammatory response because I can feel there’s something not right. There is no evidence pointing to RA. Is this just a phase and I wake up one day completely “fine”?

Maybe but for now, how do I figure out what’s wrong with me?

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.


  • Tootz
    9 months ago

    This is my first comment on this site. I too have always been sero negative but unfortunatly my exrays, pain and joint feformities say other wise. Years ago my dr. said what the heck, you obviously have the same symptons of RA and treated it the same way. Sadly nothing they tried really stopped the progression.Long story for another time. I mostly wanted to ask you if you have considered gluten intolerence? I feel better without gluten but existing damage is still painful. Also have you tried medical marijuana or even plain cbd oil? Just food for thought, God bless you

  • BeckyKay
    9 months ago

    I am also sero-negative but I have many obvious signs of inflammation in my joints. But still I was questioning whether my DX was correct. My Vectra DA was High, which was the only positive test I have ever had – no erosion in over 20+ years.

    I recently made an appointment at Johns Hopkins and flew cross country to see them. The rheumatologist was very patient with me and spent a lot of time asking questions and providing explanations. She stated that an RA DX can be made completely from clinical signs and does not have to rely on lab or x-ray results to be valid.
    Amazingly, she found no signs of inflammation during the exam. My Rituxan infusion and methylprednisolone the prior week and beaten down the inflammation. I feel better than I have for 3 years.

    She introduced me to a new test that shows the effectiveness of Rituxan that my current Rheumatologist had never used. The result showed I am at target for Rituxan. It saved me from the second infusion of Rituxan and the 3-4 days of feeling awful not to mention the overall risks of infection.

    So now my question is what is the pain in my knees, feet and hips? Maybe osteoarthritis? So my plan is to engage a Physical Medicine Specialist to work on exercise and strength to see if we can reduce the impact of pain.

    Was is worth an airline ticket and hotel to go to Johns Hopkins? For me it was very informative and gave me information so I can better manage my RA and life.

    Never be afraid or intimidated from asking questions. So glad I did.


  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    9 months ago

    i wish there was a test that would say hey your cured. Diabetes works that way. You either have it or you dont. It is clear cut. I never appreciated it as much as I did when I was diagnosed with RA.

    Yeah I like a great test.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    9 months ago

    I didn’t know that about the diabetes! It would be nice to have the validation, that’s for sure.

    When I’m feeling particularly down on myself I always ask if this condition is all in my head. I know it’s not, but sometimes…It’s hard not to believe it!

    Thanks Rick! ~Monica

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