Alyce's Body Here
Hi, let me introduce myself to you. I am Alyce’s body, and I am in control.
She thought it was her mind, wrong, it was me, always me. And mind you, I do not work alone; I have many sidekicks and friends. We are a well-oiled team working together for her good.
When I first noticed RA symptoms
Last February, in 2020, we came to a screeching halt as an invader decided to challenge us and destroy many of us. It started with the joints; they complained to me about pain and swelling. The fingers and toes soon joined them. The spine was next closely followed by the throat. When the skin started to complain, it was time for a meeting.
Confirming a diagnosis for RA
We met in the brain and charted out what was happening and what we needed to do next. The brain’s right side wanted to draw a graph of what was happening; the left side disagreed and said, let’s go to Google. Reason stepped in and said call the doctor. While the immune system quietly nodded yes in the back of the room.
The brain took over with reason’s help and started searching for a doctor. As the quest for the right doctor continued, they compiled notes.
Compiling RA symptoms
There were daily reports of this swelling and pain. The throat announced that it had some issues swallowing. The eyes soon spoke up about their problems, such as dry eyes and poor focus. I was getting anxious and thought maybe I should just let the brain fix it all. But it doesn’t work that way; we are a team, and we have to work together.
The feet complained that walking hurt and that their toes would swell and cramp. That brought on a discussion with the legs claiming their cramps were even worse. The brain called time and said it was a draw. The hands and fingers reported that besides swelling and cramps, now they had the dropsies. Things seemed to fall out of them randomly. They couldn’t move their fingers, open jars, doors, or buttons on pants and shirts. Never mind putting on a bra….
The first rheumatologist appointment
Finding a doctor was of the utmost importance; things were getting worse. At this point, everyone was worried and wanted to find relief. The brain conferred with the others and decided on a rheumatologist. The brain put a call out for an appointment. And soon, we were all poked and prodded, photographed many times with different machines and something called contrast.
The joints whined that the different positions were uncomfortable. The toes complained about being held down to get a good picture. Nobody wanted to point their toe at the hammertoe, but we all knew it was her fault.
Soon the veins were involved as nine tubes of blood were drawn for testing. There were many tests, blood draws, and ultrasounds to determine what was causing all this discomfort. We all waited as we silently hurt and wondered why. After several months of searching, the doctor decided it was the immune’s fault, and it was an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor said it was probably due to genetics because Alyce’s brother was diagnosed with it many years ago.
Next steps after RA diagnosis
We had another meeting, and we all decided we needed to learn as much as we could about this disease. Brain began to search and compile notes of what this disease can do to all of us. It’s scary and not fun. There are “triggers” that can affect any one of us at any time.
What aches today doesn’t necessarily ache tomorrow. There is no way of predicting who will tell me they hurt. We’re all worn out, and fatigue is high, but we’re trying. We push ourselves as much as we can until Alyce reacts and says I’ve got to rest. We get a weekly injection to help with the discomfort, but it doesn’t seem to do much.
Fear and hope, living with RA
The spine is worried because she is currently the primary source of pain. We’re hoping our doctor has an answer this coming February when we see her.
I’ve listened to Alyce’s brain, and for her, the hardest part is feeling so much pain but looking healthy. She also thinks that she lets people down because she cannot do as much as she used to.
I can tell you she celebrates small victories, bending down to pick up a piece of paper, getting up by herself off the floor, and putting her shoes on without struggling. As her body, it makes me sad that these simple things are considered victories.
However, brain assures me she is strong, resilient, and takes it one day at a time. She knows there is no cure, but she doesn’t allow it to consume her. She smiles and pushes me on as I man the command post.
Have you participated in our Arthritis Awareness Month giveaway?