RA, You Constantly Amaze Me With Your Creative Destruction
My name is Rebecca. I am 49 years old. I started exhibiting symptoms when I was 17. I experienced pain in my big toe, tiredness and swelling in my knees. I was always given excuses by my family MD that I was wearing the wrong shoes or was kneeling too much and had housemaids knee. I guess they weren’t familiar with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. By my late 20’s my thyroid gland had shut down and my big toe was not bending and excruciating. After getting a doctor that took me seriously, an X-ray revealed I had nothing left to my toe joint and the bulge I had was not a bunion as I was told, but was bulging bone. I had to have my toe fused to my foot with a titanium plate.
Over the years I have found that RA is a very systematic disease that does not quit and brings me surprises by showing me the many ways my immune system can attack my body. I am currently battling pain, swelling and stiffness in my wrists and finger joints. I have experienced chest pains from inflammation around my heart, high liver enzymes and now I am experiencing hair loss (in clumps) due to inflammatory alopecia.
Like many others with RA, I did not find a treatment that worked immediately. I have tried methotrexate which made me very sick to my stomach, Humira which just didn’t help, Leflunimide which worked for a while but became ineffective. I am now getting ready to try monthly infusion treatments. I have found that even though these medications have had their ups and downs, the alternative (ignoring RA and refusing treatment) usually results in my hospitalization. So, my advice is don’t give up, keep fighting, listen to your doctor but don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if things don’t feel right.
When was your last flare?