My RA Journey Begins
First, I want to thank you all for contributing to this website. I’ve found it helpful beyond measure. I’ve spent hours reading through articles, stories, and comments and learned SO much.
But more than that I’ve been encouraged and reassured that this really isn’t a death sentence. It’s just a “wrinkle” as someone called it. And I’ve been copying the links to numerous articles so that I can go back and find them as needed. Wow, SO much information!
Diagnosed with RA in sixties
Now, here’s my story. I’m 60, a small business owner, and was recently diagnosed with RA. I had been experiencing increasing overall joint pain and fatigue for several years but attributed it to strenuous repetitive movements such as mopping (my workshop is huge) or carrying supplies upstairs.
Then one finger began to throb unceasingly without explanation, followed by my wrists, then other fingers, and my elbows. I didn’t seek medical attention because, well, it was just joint pain. Since I live alone and my home and my business are located in the same building it was easy to not have to explain why I took many rest breaks during the day due to fatigue. It was also easy to pretend that everything was ok when I was occasionally social.
What pushed me over the edge and sent me to the local clinic was the lack of sleep due to pain. Eight hours of sleep in 5 days made me a walking, or limping, zombie. So the many blood tests and x-rays began as well as trying numerous NSAIDS, prescription pain meds, and chiropractor visits, on top of the heat/ice packs, TENS units, and dietary changes such as eliminating most red meat and sugar and increasing antioxidants such as turmeric, ginger, and yucca root.
Through it all I kept telling my best friend that I just wanted to get back to feeling “normal”. Finally, after months of exploration, experimentation, and searching for answers I was diagnosed with RA.
Mentally adjusting to RA
During that first visit with the rheumatologist after getting the latest round of blood test results back, I tried to absorb as much as I could even while my mind felt like I was in a whirlwind. I reverted to my “teacher” mode by scribbling notes and asking the few questions I could manage to put into words. I felt like I was in a daze as I made my way home and continued to feel somewhat mentally numb as I shared the results with those closest to me. It wasn’t until later that the reality of what I heard hit me and panic set in largely because I didn’t really understand what RA was. Fear of the unknown led to questions like, “Is RA deadly”, and “Will I become disabled”. And now, a week after diagnosis and spending hours and hours online reading articles and forums, this is a short summary of what I’ve learned so far:
- RA is not curable but it’s NOT a death sentence.
- RA is NOT the same thing as osteoarthritis; treatment for RA is not the same as treatment for OA.
- RA is more than sore joints. SO much more.
- Returning to my former “normal” is unrealistic. Embracing a new normal is.
- Putting aside pride and asking for help is going to be necessary.
- Being flexible with schedule and expectations is also going to be necessary.
- This RA race is a marathon, not a sprint. Any positive changes/improvements will take time and may only be temporary. If this happens, refer back to #6.
Again, thank you for being willing to share your experiences and advice. It feels so good to know I’m truly not alone.