Are These Test Results a Mistake?
A couple weeks after starting a new biologic medication this fall I went to get my blood tested. I doubted anything would show up because it hadn’t been that long. My previous experience told me that it could be as little as another month or as long as several more months before my blood work could be affected by a new treatment.
A shocking blood test result
A few days later when I got the results, I almost fell down. To my absolute shock both my CRP (C-reactive protein) and Sed Rate (two measures of inflammation) were both in the normal range. I’m normally at multiple times normal and it has been considered great news when I’m down to double or triple a normal number.
To my knowledge, this had never happened before except maybe once or twice right after having joint replacement surgery. I explain those short-term results by the fact that my body was in such shock from the surgery that it could mount the usual rheumatoid arthritis activity of actively eating at my bones. Doctors have confirmed this general phenomena.
After a moment of thought, I admitted to my husband that I didn’t believe the results. It just couldn’t possibly be true. Although this lab has never, ever made an error in all the years I’ve used it—there must be some mistake. Perhaps my blood got swapped with a healthy young thing! Instead of swapped babies, it was the case of the switched blood vials. That felt abundantly more likely than actually having normal blood test results for the first time ever after nearly 40 years of living with rheumatoid arthritis.
So I dismissed the results. I put them out of my mind and just couldn’t absorb the possibility of the truth.
Six weeks and a few more shots of the biologic later, I revisited the lab to get tapped for blood. Wanting to be sure of plenty of blood (because I’m a difficult draw) and accuracy, I drank extra water the day before and the morning of my visit. I wasn’t going to let anything potentially affect these results!
Over the weekend I sweated the wait. When would my results be back? What would they reveal?
My first glimpse was a cryptic note from my doctor congratulating me on a normal CRP. But yet, no results in my online file. Did he see my previous result and mistakenly think it was true?
Monday came and went. I sent a note asking my doctor if he could send the results. No word… Then on Tuesday I check again and truly didn’t know how to believe my eyes. CRP at 1.4. This was even lower than the previous result of 2.3 (even after the surgeries I only got down to 8)! Could this actually be true? Additionally, my Sed Rate was normal and even lower than the first result.
Remission? Is it possible?
I can no longer deny it. With two results, we are now looking at a trend. I could possibly be experiencing a halting of my disease.
I am getting teary because this is something I had no longer thought possible. When you live with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since age two with no let up, you get used to the idea of constant, eroding illness. It’s more like a cold war than a war you think you will win. The goal is to survive and outlast, despite gradual and persistent losses. I’ve only just begun what may be a huge shift in my life.
Yet I still have decades of severe joint damage. I will always have RA. Nothing will be reversed, but my future may be altered from one of certain losses. I still wake up in the morning with stiff joints. I still have aches and pains. I still live with fatigue.
But the sunrise on the horizon is a little brighter and I have a new hope as well as a new belief: if someone like me with severe, unrelenting RA can find a treatment that works that means a lot of hope for my fellow patients. Keep on searching my friends.
When was your last flare?