It’s been roughly eleven years that I have been diagnosed with RA. I have experienced many flares that bring excruciating pain and I have been rendered nearly unable to function in today’s day to day life. But, I have also been blessed with times of remission, and nearly pain free periods. Those are the days when I give special thanks and where I’m grateful and in tune with my surroundings on a different level. I already am, but even more-so then and those days become a precious gift.
The pain never goes away completely, but after a bout of flares, the remission periods of little pain become much more tolerable. It is usually the winters that are tougher, and I have frequently referred to myself as the human barometer. I can pick up on approaching storms, and the pressure changes make my bones heavy and ache. At times I know before the meteorologists know. I feel clumsy on those days and everything takes more effort. After winter, a period of relief usually follows, but this was not the case this year.
Winter came to an end earlier this year, but the symptoms remained and never dissipated. The only difference was varying degrees of intensity, but the nagging pain remained. Life changed for me at a faster pace this year. I was reevaluating my truths and everything I have come to know in my journey. Not really a bad thing and again I realize that it was adversity and pain that stretched me into my higher self as a person. I now recognize those patterns and by knowing that the outcome is always something beautiful and greater if you carry hope and belief within your heart, I have learned to embrace the pain. But I also learned to understand how someone becomes depressed or gives up all together, not wanting, or unable to face another day filled with pain, be it physical or psychological. It was difficult to function and even more difficult to make it through a day at work. Minutes turned into hours of agonizing pain and even hiking became a challenge for longer distances. I didn’t trust myself and my footing was unstable and frail on the trail. I had no choice and requested a referral to a rheumatologist. After a few troubles and denials, I was finally accepted by a local praxis. Yippie…right, but now is probably a good time to remind you that I have little belief and faith in doctors these days and that my first rheumatologist placed me on cancer medicine without my knowledge, that depleted almost all of my white blood cell count. A common could have killed me without me knowing it. Needless to say I never went back and have been on my own ever since, going through life with a chronic illness untreated.
My September trip to Germany was around the corner and I was in so much pain. I had no idea of how to make the strenuous journey, handle the luggage and the stress of the trip without triggering an even bigger flare. I had to take charge and off to the new doctor I went just before the trip. I saw a nurse practitioner and I liked her a lot. She took the time, she listened and still had a genuine desire to help vs. being consumed by pharmacy kick back of prescribing pills and seeing her patients as a number and dollar sign. She wanted to be sure of what she was dealing with and a barrage of blood tests in the excess of over 1000.00 dollars was ordered. In addition there were X-Rays of my hands and wrists. I told her of my fear of the upcoming trip and she offered steroids I could take as needed in order to have some quality of life, manage the stresses of the trip and be able to function while in Germany. I knew I had no choice, despite my pill dislike and later that day I filled a prescription for Prednisone. Over the next few days it would diminish the edge of the pain, making it tolerable and I left for Germany. Prior to leaving, we scheduled a follow up appointment to go over the blood work and the X-Rays. I wondered about the results while I was in Germany and I knew it was time to face the truth. I was wondering if RA was the only info she would confirm or if a truth would follow that I wasn’t even aware of yet. I tried not to think of it too much and I surrendered. It was out of my hands and I had to be ok with whatever was coming my way. If I needed to believe more than ever, then now was the time to do so. Regardless of the news, it would be from there that a treatment plan would follow, where a decision might be required, where I find out where the path was leading and where I discover what was on the other of the hill that I was clawing my way up to.