Put a name on it

I’m at a point now where it seems I’ve just always been in pain of some sort. I really just can’t imagine what it’s like to not be in some sort of discomfort. Migraines, stiff and achey joints, fatigue, etc. I’ve gotten used to it.

I’ve gone to doctors, but always sort of been dismissed. Maybe because it was always a different one who didn’t really know me – moving around meant no relationship with my primary care so maybe I just came in and seemed like a hypochondriac. I don’t know.

But I’d be told things like, “Oh, maybe it’s hyper-flexibility.” or “It sounds like fibromyalgia.” and then a couple of years ago, “It seems like runner’s knee.” followed my a lecture on how I would never lose weight by walking (even though I was following a weight training regimen with a personal trainer, and had lost 20 lbs) and an insinuation that I was in pain because I was lazy. But whatever.

So basically my trust in the medical community is nonexistent and I just get dragged into the ER for my yearly bout of pneumonia gets so bad my husband becomes concerned I won’t survive.

Such a drama queen.

Or at least, that’s the way it’s been. This summer things have changed that.

My pain has gotten worse.

A lot worse

In my ankles, but in my hands and wrists especially. I used to be able to type 120 wpm, now I can barely peck. I have trouble holding my phone. Holding my steering wheel while driving. Opening jars. My car battery died, I couldn’t get the jumper cables open to hook them on to the battery. It’s been unreal for me, worse than it’s ever been before.

So, after putting it off for weeks, I finally dragged myself into my doctor’s office. And he ordered some blood work and took some x-rays.

Side note – this was already a pleasant surprise, because for the first time ever I felt like I was being taken seriously. Which was nice.

Fast-forward a couple of days and I get a call.

He says I have rheumatoid arthritis and should make an appointment with a specialist.

That won’t be until later in the month.

For now I’m still processing what he told me and I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel, but there’s a part of me that feels relieved or maybe even glad.

It feels like for the first time in my life I was taken seriously. For the first time I have proof that I’m not just lazy or making things up. I really am in pain. I’m not too young or exaggerating or looking for attention, which is how it tends to seem I’ve been made to feel through all of this by a lot of the people I’ve had to interact with. I can say, “Look, I have blood work. Look, I have an x-ray. Look, this doctor says something is wrong.”

It feels…satisfying.

And then I feel sort of guilty for feeling that way.

My aunt was recently diagnosed with RA as well – only a month or two ago. She went through this whole angry/sad thing. I’m not sure if that’s more appropriate or not, or something to come later.

I haven’t told her yet. That side of the family is still caught up in her diagnosis. You know, “Poor, X. She’s in so much pain. I hope the doctor’s help her.”

I feel like if I call up and say, “Hey! Me too!” it might seem like I’m copy-catting her or something as nuts as that sounds. Like, what if she needs that more than I do? The family’s attention? No reason to split or or distract it. I don’t know.

I guess I’ll have to sit back and just see what happens. I imagine I will know more once I see the specialist.


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