"Disease has a timeline of its own."

Janet Garber
Chapter 1
Strange Pain

My name is Janet Garber and I'm 62. My journey with rheumatoid arthritis has not been very long--it began only last year.

I started having short episodes of joint pain that were not prompted by anything. I do a lot of physical activities so I know what overuse injuries feel like. But this pain was nothing I was familiar with. Some pains would last a few hours, others a few days.

I tried to make sense of it. I started taking notes on when these pains occurred. Then, last summer, I had one that was different.

But he did refer me to an orthopedist and that doctor did a few tests for autoimmune diseases. He asked if I had any autoimmune diseases in my family. I said no.

The orthopedist said there was nothing really indicating that I had rheumatoid arthritis, but he wanted to check and be sure.

A few days later, he called back. It was news that really upset me.

Chapter 2

I saw the rheumatologist the day after I got back from Seattle and by then, I was feeling pretty good about things. I had convinced myself that it was some kind of anomaly in the test.

And the rheumatologist was reassuring, too. She said she didn't think I had rheumatoid arthritis, but wanted to do more extensive testing.

When she got the first tests back, she didn't like some of the results, but didn't go into the details with me. She said she wanted to do some more testing.

It took longer to get those results. Then, she sent me a note that it had definitely been confirmed as rheumatoid arthritis.

She said we could either talk on the phone about where we were going to go from there, or I could make an appointment to come in and talk.

The doctor was very reassuring and answered all my questions. And she was optimistic about the ability of medication to control the pain and the deterioration of my joints.

But she did reiterate that everybody is different. And that disease has a timeline of its own.

My reaction to all this has surprised me.

Chapter 3
A Happy Discovery

Since I was only diagnosed last September, I'm still learning about what it means to live with this condition. Most of the time I'm fine, but I still struggle with the emotions of the disease.

But so far I have to say it hasn't yet affected my lifestyle at all. And I can honestly say that I haven't had any pain as bad as that sharp pain that sent me to the Urgent Care doctor in the first place.

I'm also starting to learn about how my body responds to different things and that's making me feel more positive.