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person holding positive test results, but is also on fire

Why Do I Feel So Bad When My VECTRA-DA Shows Improvement?

I recently requested a medication change with my rheumatologist because my fatigue and pain had increased. I found out that my VECTRA-DA results showed marked improvement from moderate activity down to mild activity. To say I was shocked is a gross understatement! How could my scores drop when I felt so much worse?

Using VECTRA-DA results to help treat RA

A treatment plan based on a physical exam & bloodwork

I am blessed with a fabulous rheumatologist who cares and listens. He said, “Labs don’t always have the answers, especially with you. That’s why we talk about how you are feeling and do a physical exam too. And don’t forget your fibromyalgia.” A little history: my RA factor, ANA, CRP, etc., have never shown any evidence of disease. Only my body tells the story. My first knee replacement revealed OA on the inside and RA on the outside of the knee. Finally, we had confirmation. A year later, the VECTRA-DA test became available and showed moderate RA.

The trials of a new medication

So, we tried a new medication. Unfortunately, I had side effects that required me to return to the previous medication. So I still have more pain and fatigue. In the midst of this, I have also had a pinched spinal nerve in my lumbar spine and bronchitis twice. All of us can identify with these times of what I call “RA+”. RA never seems to come by itself; it always brings a friend along.

Coping with RA co-diseases & infections

So, how to cope with RA, co-diseases, and infections? I find that listening to my body has to be first. I used to be able to “push through the pain” when I was younger and less smart. Now I know that the body has to be listened to and cared for first. Sleep and rest are my most important coping mechanisms. I follow a sleep routine that includes essential oil diffusion, ocean sounds, a memory foam mattress, and a semi-dark room.

When I get home from work, I rest first for an hour. Then I think about dinner. Music is always helpful, although I find silence helps also. I also set an hourly alarm at work, so that I get up and walk 250 steps each hour, preventing stiffness. I may not always get it done, but it is my goal. I find sunshine boosts my mood immensely, so I spend time at the pool. I have learned to accept that it is NOT selfish to take care of me first.

I cannot provide for my sons and myself if I don’t care for myself first. RheumatoidArthritis.net is my social life when I cannot venture out. My faith is my lifeline.

What do you do to cope? Please respond and share your ideas.

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

Comments

  • AimeeH
    1 month ago

    I have just within the past 5 min looked at my labs and they show no signs of how bad I feel. Why? I have lived with this for 11 yrs and I have come to realize that today is my best day because tomorrow I will be a bit worse. Even tho’ I am sero-neg, I have a host of piggy back diseases.
    Like others I have never heard of VECTRA-DA. I will be asking about it.
    I am so blessed that I don’t have to work and I have a gem of a husband. He helps me with everything around the house and personal needs. My faith in God gets me through each and every trail placed in my way plus I LOVE my rheumy-talk about a Godsend! He is the most concerned and caring doctor I have ever seen.
    Hope each of you have a better today and an even better tomorrow. We don’t know all the “why’s” but we have to take great care of us until we do…

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    Hi AimeeH!
    Thank you for writing. I’m thrilled you have a good relationship with your rheumatologist. It’s vitally important and makes a huge difference in your care. If you check my responses to other comments, I describe the VECTRA-DA test. You can also check their website.
    We do have to take great care of us. I find replacing “why” with “how” helps me a great deal. How do I get out of bed this morning, etc. There is also research to support that having a faith community improves outcomes in a variety of illnesses.
    May you be blessed today!
    Mary Sophia

  • spljoy
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this. I never heard of the VECTRA-DA test and plan to ask about it at my next doctor’s visit.

    I too am sero-negative. Thank god for sonograms which showed RA in my hands, without that I would not be receiving helpful treatment!

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    Spljoy,
    Thank you for responding! The VECTRA-DA test measures 14 different signs of RA and then gives you a composite score. It may not be covered by your insurance, but they have a plan to limit what you pay. You can look up the test online and print it out for your rheumatologist. I’m glad you have found helpful treatment.
    Mary Sophia

  • CynthiaV
    2 months ago

    Lovely article. I so agree that taking care of ourselves must be our #1 goal. It was a lesson it took me years to learn but I learned it, the hard way. Now I feel no guilt when I rest, ask for help or look the other way when the laundry basket is overflowing. I too am blessed with a wonderful rheumy and a fabulous husband. I have a few true friends who understand my limitations and the precarious nature of my plans. I have difficult times that seem to stretch forward with no end in sight but have learned all things, good and bad have an ending. I have lived with RA and Fibro and as you say all that comes along for over 20 years. But I am content and joyous. I too rely on my faith to see me through and the love and loyalty of family, friends and my doctors. God bless!

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    CynthiaV,
    God bless you too! It sounds like you are coping well on your journey. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Mary Sophia

  • Junebug617
    2 months ago

    I have the same problem, no matter how bad I feel, my labs hardly ever show my disease in a flare. It really is frustrating when my rheumy blames everything on fibromyalgia, like it’s just not possible that I’m in an RA flare but my labs are still normal… Must be fibro! it just makes me sad as she was the one that DX’d me 15 years ago but I think I’m going to have to find a new rheumatologist.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    Junebug617,
    Thank you for your comments. Your situation is quite frustrating. To protect our readers, RheumatoidArthritis.net cannot give medical advice. However, a second opinion is always a smart option. Before you change, you can call the office manager and request a “get acquainted” appointment to meet with the MD. There is usually a fee involved, but the appointment allows you to see if the MD is a good choice for you.
    You may find that having a list of where the pain is and how it affects your life is helpful. For example, when I see my rheumatologist, I tell him: My hand and toe joints are more swollen, I can’t get my rings on, writing hurts and I can’t open jars anymore. The MD has to see how this affects your daily life, or they lump it into “unspecified pain”.
    I hope this helps. May your journey be blessed with peace.
    Mary Sophia

  • karenb54
    2 months ago

    Thank you for your story. I have never had high RF, ANA and CRP tests. Thankfully, I found a rheumatologist who actually listens to me. He also goes by how I feel rather than test results.

    I cope by making sure I take my medications as directed and at the same time each day. I need my rest so I tend to climb into bed earlier than most folks. I drink lots of water and I get up every hour or so at work and walk. It is tough to get up if I sit for too long. When I have new pain I make sure and keep a journal to be sure to let my rheumatologist know. It’s very easy to forget.

    Sunshine, water and faith keeps me going. Also, knowing I need to keep going at work to pay the bills is a plus.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    karenB54,
    Thank you for writing! We are similar in our lab test results. The VECTRA-DA test measures 14 different signs of RA and gives you a composite score.
    It sounds like you have chosen a wise rheumatologist. You have also identified several important keys to managing RA: drinking lots of water, moving every hour, and taking your medications on time each day. Bravo to you! I understand about paying the bills!
    May your journey be blessed with peace.
    Mary Sophia

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