I Am RA and I Am Here
Every morning I would wake up and wonder why I always felt so stiff and sore. Instead of going to see a doctor, I would just brush it off, not thinking any more of it. As time went on I realized it wasn’t going away and in fact was getting worse. I would wake up to excruciating pain in my hands, barely able to move my fingers. One morning I remember slowly turning to step out of bed, feeling as if I had just ran a few miles non-stop while I was sleeping. I realized this couldn’t possibly be normal and despite my constant complaints to my father, and hearing him reply back that I’m too young to have arthritis, I finally decided to go see a doctor.
You would be surprised at how many things were going through a 20 year olds brain as she’s trying to piece together exactly why her own body is turning against her. I arrived at my primary care doctor’s office and sat in the lobby, anxiously waiting to be called back in. The minute I stepped into the room a nurse took my stats. I turned to look around and on the right side of the wall just happened to be two intriguing posters. Both showed the inner bones and muscles of the human body, except each one was titled differently; Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis. The moment I starting looking at the Rheumatoid poster, I knew. I had the instant feeling that this horrible picture was how it felt inside each joint throughout my body. I told the doctor the minute he came in the room I wanted to be tested because I knew I had RA.
That whole week of waiting I was completely on edge, just wishing I’d get a phone call already to give me the results. Finally I received a call from the office, but all they told me over the phone was that I needed to come in as soon as possible. My stomach sank, of course, because I knew this was never a good thing to hear. Flash forward to a few days later, I was back at my primary care doctor’s office. He finally came in and told me I did test positive for RA.
You tested positive
Of course we started treatments right away. This doctor in particular refused to refer me to a Rheumatologist, an RA specialist, and I wasn’t very happy about that so I switched to another doctor, a few months later that would. I just wasn’t convinced enough until I saw a specialist.
Once again I found myself sitting in another medical office, somewhere that would become like a second home to me. This time I was waiting to meet my possible future Rheumatologist. The appointment went well and he ordered me to get more blood tests done. It was November and my 21st birthday was coming up on the 18th, ironically being my appointment date to return back for my results. Happy Birthday to me, huh? I have never been so scared in my entire life and I wished I still had my mother alive, next to my side to tell me it would all be okay, as I waited in that room. I finally got called back after what felt like hours and when he looked at me, my heart sank. “You have aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis” the doctor stated. That’s when I felt the tears roll down my face, and the questions in my head started playing like a film strip. I can’t possibly have this, what does this mean? Is there a cure? No there is no cure. I’m stuck with this for the rest of my life. Medications upon medications, and shot after shot. Wait, I’m only 21 and no liquor with methotrexate (a prescription I will have to take to help make the pain more livable)? Then there are NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory), pain killers, folic acid, and possible biologics. This can’t be happening; it’s not real. I’m dreaming… It didn’t stop there as he continued to ask me if I have started to feel the effects of something else I tested positive for, Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Needless to say, my life fell apart that day. My future felt unattainable. I went home and spent hours on my Mac Book researching every possible bit of information that I could find. Why me? Why at such a young age, when I’m supposed to be having the best time of my life? Many things would be changing and that’s all I really knew at the time. The RA was extremely painful until I got onto the correct medications, and to this day I still have flare ups and can only work half of what I used to. It’s definitely not how I pictured my life would be and everything has changed. The most important thing I have learned so far is to never give up and have faith in something. I just wish “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”- Kurt Vonnegut