I finally had my appointment with my rheumatologist today after a week of going through potential outcomes. I brought my mom with me to have another pair of ears and the support.
The diagnosis was immediate: “You have rheumatoid arthritis.”
I can’t say it didn’t suck to hear it like that. I’d expected a little bit of mystery, deliberation, maybe a “you’re OK.” But I also can’t say I was surprised. I nodded as he went over the reasons why he was sure – positive for rheumatoid factor and anti CCP, bone erosions, clear inflammation.
Then he asked questions that shed a light on ALL of the symptoms I’d been feeling but hadn’t linked to my “sports injury.” Have I been tired? Down? Depressed? Experienced insomnia? Anxiety? Stomach issues? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes and yes. Majorly. Dry eyes and mouth? No (something I don’t have, yeah!).
I walked away from the appointment with a diagnosis, a plan and an odd sense of hope and relief. My rheumy believes we can get this into “remission” in six months. My rheumy says I’ll be able to have a family in the future if I choose to. My rheumy says that we’ll minimize permanent damages. That there are a lot of good drug options.
So, of course I left the appointment sad, with a million additional questions and overwhelmed at my new drug plan – A cancer drug? Giving myself injectables? But I was also relieved to be doing something and to have a name to put toward everything I’d been feeling.
I promptly filled my prescription for methotrexate, prednisone and folic acid and started the process for getting insurance approval for Enbrel.
I went to happy hour with my mom and close friend, nervously going over the prescription info and bringing my friend up-to-date.
And then, with a ton of trepidation (Is this severe of a treatment really necessary? What about the side effects? Will it make a difference?), I popped those six itty-bitty MTX pills and began my new life. A new life on drugs, but also a new life on the pathway to some sort of relief and recovery.
#1 by Lariana on April 17, 2012 - 7:28 am
Gosh I know how you feel about that life-defining moment when they first diagnose you. It’s scary, you feel like running somewhere or not believing what you’ve just heard. Hard to digest. Then comes the hundreds of questions running through your mind. It’s good he talked to you about having a family in the future, my doctor avoids talking to me about it until we’re serious, he says it wont be easy and I’ll have to change all my meds and action plan, I worry about that alot, I’m getting married in 6 months, so the question always lingers about what steps I’m going to have to take to make sure our baby has its best chances to not get affected negatively by my condition and the amount of medicines I take, and whether or not it really is possible. I wish you all the best for your new journey. It’ll be different but I’m sure in time you’re going to cope really well. Big hugs xo
#2 by musefulness on April 20, 2012 - 5:14 am
Thank you so much – it’s so good to hear from other people who share this condition. I would have to get off my medications in order to try to get pregnant and during the pregnancy (especially methotrexate), which is of course really scary. The last thing you want is to make your symptoms worse and have to start treatment over again. But, according to my doctor, while women are pregnant they report that their RA symptoms lessen or even disappear. This is probably due to the huge hormone changes and the increase in cortisol a woman experiences when she’s pregnant. The thing that is most scary to me is that many women report their RA symptoms worsening or changing after giving birth. Yikes. Imagine worse symptoms and a newborn… My doc said that just as treatment is working for me now, it should work post-pregnancy, but I definitely understand (and share!) your worries and concerns about this. Anyway, it’s a big decision for you and your fiance (congratulations by the way!!!!), and I wish you the best of luck. Hugs!!!