Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Apparently diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis is a detailed process. The rheumatologist has ticked the box off that says I have it, but he’s ordered quite a few more tests. In the next two weeks I’ll have X-Rays of my wrists, ankles, hips and shoulders. He would like me to have MRI’s instead, but he had mentioned that MRIs are expensive. In addition to this I’ll need a baseline retinal exam and some liver tests. Eight vials of blood were collected from me earlier this week, and I’m not wise enough to know which results to hope for.

Today my husband mentioned that he thought I was handling all of this very well. That’s because I only cry after he’s gone to work.

This morning when I got on the phone with United Healthcare to talk about the authorization process  for the MRIs the woman on the other end was so kind that I just started to cry. I felt terrible for her, because I’m certain that folks are on the phone with her all the time that have wretched, life threatening diseases and disorders. I was just so touched by her kindness and her willingness to help that I wept. I was (and am) so incredibly grateful that we have the sort of insurance coverage where money doesn’t really enter into the equation when determining treatment plans.

In the middle of a truly awful week there are some bright spots, and I managed to cry right through them.

I’m headed for a second opinion, and if they aren’t identical diagnoses, a third. I have a husband who can see the details in everything, but somehow doesn’t see my swollen joints or my puffy eyes. I have kids who I can still beat the snot out of in a foot race, and the rest of my family is just incredible.

If Mr. G. can keep looking at me without seeing the puffiness, I’m pretty sure we can beat the crap out of this thing.

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  1. Well, I’m no psychologist (well, maybe the Charlie Brown/Lucy kind!)…but I think crying is the first step to acceptance – an emotional reponse to big changes in our lives. As women/moms, we’re so attuned to fixing/helping everyone else with their problems), then when something happens to us – well, it’s not supposed to work that way! And who knows…Mr G may be shedding a tear or two on his way to work…

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  3. It’s lovely to experience and hear about other’s experiences of health care workers who don’t succumb to desensitization from years on the job.

    In May ’09, I went through some crap like you are experiencing, because they suspected that I had RA. My initial bloodwork had some markers of something that required a specialist to see me.

    As they took MY 8 vials of blood that day, the phlebotomist made a joke about what a “brave girl” I was being since I told her I was a bit of a wimp. So I asked her if she would take me to McDonald’s playland when she was done. “Oh heavens no, hun.” I thought maybe she thought I was serious. Then she said, “They don’t serve martinis there!” We laughed together and it really made my day, as silly as it sounds.

    Just an FYI, I didn’t have RA but rather contracted 5th Disease, which I guess is mild in children but can be HELL in adults. My kids didn’t get it, just me. In 8 weeks, I got over the intense swelling and joint pain…pain I’ve never felt before. I now know what “debilitating” means. And I cringe knowing that people have to live like that chronically. My thoughts are with you.

  4. Jessica, I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this. The good news is that it is being diagnosed at such an early stage. I have two people very close to me who’ve successfully managed this for years. Please keep your chin up!

    Also, you probably don’t consume much (or any) of this, but if you eat or drink ANYTHING with aspartame/nutrasweet in it, stop immediately. It can mimic the symptoms of RA and, in my aunt’s case, really exacerbated the issue. She found a lot of relief just by eliminating it from her diet.

    You are in my thoughts!

  5. Keep Your head up, you’re doing great! I read the comments on this blog and while many of us don’t know you personally you can know that we do care. Whether you believe in prayer, or karma, or just good thoughts you have that going for you. :)

  6. You are a strong woman! If you can handle Dr. Phil and calling out working moms…you can handle the “R.A.” ;)

    Go get em Jessica!

    (and hugs…I had a health issue this past week as well and I understand the anxiousness. But I also believe in the power of being positive, so keep your head up!)
    See you later this week! (yay!)

  7. I have RA and through didn’t get all these fancy diagnostic tests. You must have better insurance–enjoy it while you can, you’re now in the club of untouchables until new reforms kick in in 2014. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is, if you indeed have RA, you will be fine with the right medication (or therapies or whatever you choose, drugs got me a lot farther than a positive attitude). I was improperly medicated for several months around the time of my diagnosis and that left me living in the body of an 80 year old woman. I thought my life was over. But it’s not. I’m fine as long as I have my drugs.

    Getting diagnosed and accepting whatever is diagnosed is tough. So is feeling like you are suddenly living in your grandma’s body or that your body is betraying you .It all sucks. Crying is good. You will be good soon, too.

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  9. im so glad your meds are working for you cause they are doing nothing for me i had a ra positive factor of 33 and ya honey crying is all i can do i do have the body of an 80 year old woman

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