Remembering all that we have been through on our journey with rheumatoid arthritis is hard. It brings back feeling that we thought had long been forgotten. We forget the fight and the struggle for a diagnosis. We forget the emotions we felt when we first realized that our body could let us down. We forget what it was like to experience the downfall of all of our life plans that we once thought would come to be. This is what I have learned on my journey with rheumatoid arthritis..."To get to where we are going we must remember where we came from."
When I first became sick I was, well...sick. It was new to me and it was painful, but in my heart I knew that something was awfully wrong. I was constantly wondering what it could be. Was it cancer? Was it just some awful virus that I just couldn't get rid of? I had just given birth to my youngest son about two months earlier. I couldn't hold him to feed him. Sometimes I couldn't pick him up when he cried. I felt like a awful mother and kept wondering when this would end. Little did I know, it was never going to go away.
I was so strong back then. I knew something was very wrong and I was not going to let another doctor tell me that there wasn't. I had test after test ran. I had MRI after MRI because for two years my primary doctor and the neurologist told me they thought I was in the early stages of multiple sclerosis. Then finally the words I never wanted to hear were said. My primary doctor told me once again that nothing was wrong and that I had no medical reason to be having any problems. She then continued to suggest counceling. My heart was crushed and broken into peices. I think, still to this day, those peices have not quite healed. I knew something was wrong and I told everyone that I could, but no one was listening to me. Perhaps it was because they were only looking for multiple sclerosis. Perhaps they were as tired of the testing as I was. But good doctors don't give up. Good doctors are the ones who care and will listen. At that time I had lost faith in good doctors.
Turns out that the one test that they didn't give me, was the one test that held the answers that I so desperately needed. I found myself in bed unable to dress myself or feed myself. I had my 70 year old grandpa taking care of me. I know now that the depression and the the stress is what caused my pain to soar. I was in so much pain that I didn't think that I would physically, mentally, or emotionally be able to handle it anymore. I would lie in bed and cry and scream...and scream...and scream! The pain was just too much for me to bear. I was lucky to have my grandpa back then. My husband worked as much as he could so we could pay my constantly expanding medical bills. I woke up one morning and to my suprise I was swollen everywhere. Every single joint was swollen and painfull and I wondered if I had overdosed on Advil or was having an allergic reaction. My grandpa had convinced me to go to the doctor one more time. He told me that this had to stop and that I couldn't give up, and he was right! I went to the doctor once again. She said let me run one more test, and she started me on some prednisone and gave me some pain pills.
Waiting for bad news
The wait for the results of my blood test were excrutiating. It was almost as bad as the physical pain I was in. I finally got a call from my doctors office later that week and was floored that it had come so soon. But instead of getting an answer I got a referral to a rheumatologist. Two weeks later I found myself sitting in the waiting room at a rheumatologists office. I knew this would be the day I got answers, but I was in fear of how much more testing I was going to have to go through. I was in fear of how much more testing I could handle. The rheumatologist drew blood and I had xrays done, and then I left. I left with no answers. I was scared and confused and wondered if I were going crazy. Could nothing be wrong like the doctors told me? Was this just all in my head? I was working part time by this time and was having a hard time making it through the day. I had begun walking through the office to go outside for a break when I got "the phone call". "Holly", she said, "Your blood test results are back and you have quite a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, but I'm sure your primary physician has already told you that". She hadn't! I hit the the floor...literally. My legs gave out on me and I began to sob uncontrollably. I still sob uncontrollably.
Remember your a fighter!
I'm telling you my story for one purpose and one purpose alone. I am telling you this because I think it is very important to remember these things. It's important to remember the hard times, because those are the times that helped you become who you are today. I fought with everything I had to get someone to listen to me. I knew something was very wrong and I had a life that I was tired of throwing away because of the pain. Shortly after my diagnosis I had to go back to my previous primary physician to get my medical records. The doctor was standing in the office at the time of my arrival. I walked in and asked for my medical records, and once I received them this is what I did...I stated very loudly that I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis, then I turned around to the patients in the waiting room and said, "If you need a good doctor I suggest you go somewhere else." Yes, it was petty of me, but it sure made me feel better! Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and think about those times. Not because it is depressing, but because of the things I was able to accomplish. There are still days when I don't feel strong enough to fight and that I question if I will ever be strong enough to fight. But when I think back on the things I was able to fight for it reminds me that I am a true fighter. That's who I am! So if you ever have the days when you question how you could ever possibly go on living with this horrible disease, take a second to remember where you came from. After all...to get to where your going you must remember where you came from. Best wishes!
Published On: February 25, 2009