Searching for Answers

I suspected that something was wrong when I was about 26. I constantly hurt, I had unexplained swelling, and I was so fatigued! To add to things, I was also pregnant at the time.

Hints during pregnancy

My OB did some blood tests and said to me, "did you know you are showing a positive RA marker?" I did know that, I was told that in high school that I carried the gene for RA, but everyone said I was too young to even think about it. And as well, not everyone who carries it actually comes down with it. So I actually forgot about it, always brushing off my aches and pains as "normal" arthritis from playing sports. My wrist and hand pain from playing the flute and piano and anyway, it wasn't bad enough that it was making an impact on my life.

The diagnosis that changed everything

Fast forward to turning 39... I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With that treatment nearing its end, I noticed that my right foot was constantly swollen and stiff. I had been complaining about that for a while, but my oncologist always said it was because I wasn't active like I used to be. I was still recovering from the surgery etc.

Finally he ran a blood test and up popped the RA issue again. This time, he took me seriously and sent me to a rheumatologist. I was 44 at that time. 32 vials of blood later, I had my diagnosis of RA and FINALLY could be treated for it. I like to tell my sisters not to worry, I inherited all the sucky genes in the family... as RA does run in my family.

Support means everything to me

Here I am at 57 and still trying to figure out this roller coaster of a disease and all that it brings. Luckily for me, I have family and friends who are there to support me and can see when I am having a bad day without me having to say anything. My friends are very understanding when I cancel at the last minute, even changing plans to accommodate my pain or exhaustion level. And if there is anything they don't understand, they ask me point blank what do I need, what can they do, and can I explain what I am going through so that they can try and understand. I feel very blessed as I know that there are many who struggle with their loved ones not understanding at all.

Not letting RA hold me back

Life goes on, and I refuse to sit quietly on the sidelines. I still try and travel. My family lives all over the US and I refuse to not go see them. I try hard not to let this disease define me, however, I am not stupid enough to ignore it either and push beyond my limits. I may not be able to go visit family for the holidays, but I sure as heck can go see them whenever I am feeling better. And then we do our own holidays... LOL. I think it's about being able to be flexible, to be able to have humor about it all, and go with the flow. If this can't be cured, then I can at least learn how to work with it.

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