If I look back to when my life began to change health wise, it started in early August when I got really sick with a respiratory infection. Normally that causes my asthma to flare up and I go on a taper dose of prednisone along with antibiotic to clear it up. For some reason this time, it wasn’t working so I went to Urgent Care and they suggested a steroid shot. I am not one for taking shots, but I wanted to be able to breathe so I took it.
Two weeks later I began to have terrible cramping in my feet and calves. I went back to my primary care physician and he prescribed a mild muscle relaxer to take at night. It didn’t help much. Then in September, I came home from work one night and my right knee began to hurt. The further we got in the night, the more it hurt. I didn’t think anything about it at the time because I thought I had tweaked it or something. The next morning, I woke up and couldn’t walk on my right knee. I hobbled to work and got an appointment that afternoon with an orthopedic physician assistant. He x-rayed the knee and found nothing. He felt it and all he could offer was a cortisone shot, which I turned down. The next morning, the knee was better oddly. The next day after that, the left knee started and it lasted about 24 hours again.
The next thing that happened was pain in my fingers after typing all day at work. There were days that my hands hurt so bad by the time my shift was over that I could hardly drive home. I went to my primary care physician again and he ran blood tests for RA, Lupus, and Lyme disease. All came back negative. We would put me on taper doses of prednisone because that seemed to knock the pain out for a few weeks. I had an appointment made for a rheumatologist in late October and the first they had available was the end of February. Frustrating to say the least.
In early December, I was roller-skating with my daughter and I got overly confident in my ability to skate since I had lived on skates as a kid. My feet went out from under me and I went down and on to my right hand. Soon as I hit, I knew I had done something bad but I sprung back up like nothing happened and kept going. The pain shot from my hand all the way up to my shoulder. I went home that evening and hoped it would be better in the morning, but the pain was so bad I could hardly sleep. I was diagnosed with a broken wrist and it was placed in a cast. Being that I am right handed, it made typing and using a mouse at work a little challenging so I had to start doing everything left handed. This sent the pain in my left hand through the roof. I began having to take days off from work because of pain in my left hand and wrist.
Then on December 24, I was visiting family and sitting in the floor with my son. He was a bit wild and I reached out with my left arm to grab him and felt pain in my shoulder and it continued to worsen through out the afternoon and evening to the point where it spread down the arm to my left wrist and hand. December 24th is when I started experiencing pain every single day and it would move from different joints on a whim it seemed. I visited my primary care physician on December 26th and explained I could work and that I was going to have to go out on short-term disability. He was able to get me an emergency appointment with the rheumatologist for January 4th. They ran a lot of tests and I came back as having Rheumatoid Arthritis but I’m one of the few that are RF negative. I was diagnosed by the inflammation rate in my body, my C-reactive protein, and CCP values.
I began Methotrexate on January 23 and I’m also on 5 mg Prednisone a day. So far, I’m not sure how much it is working. Just when I thought it was working I was hit with another respiratory infection that has had me on three courses of antibiotics and 20 days of high dose prednisone. Throw in a case of thrush for good measure and it has been a rough month! I’m hoping to get off the prednisone soon and I’m going to see about a different medicine. The methotrexate makes me have blurred vision and foggy brain and the fatigue, oh my! I don’t know if I can function on this medicine. We will have to see.
I have spent some time trying to decide how I got this. Was it because I smoke? Was it because I had a severe case of Mono (Epstein Barr virus) when I was a child? Was it due to all the stress that I’ve been under from applying for a promotion this past fall, my husband being laid off the end of August, and the stress of having a child that has special needs? Did my respiratory infection in August have anything to do with this? The answer is “who knows?!!”. What I have concluded is that it could be anyone of these or none of them. The fact is that I now have RA or something similar to it and I now must obtain the tools in my toolbox to kick its butt!