The biggest detours in my life have come mostly from the unexpected, the undetected, the unavoidable. I have a tendency to ignore what I would rather not acknowledge hoping I can change the outcome, work harder, give more, change minds and find a way to fix the problem. The times my world has come crashing down on me have been when the situations were out of my control, there was nothing I could do to stop the concrete boulder once it was set in motion, racing down the mountain toward me.
I have written about my injured my Achilles tendon back in June. I am still in physical therapy and working with the amazing duo of Amy and Chad on healing, but I have had some other setbacks. During the summer I experienced some very painful swelling and tenderness in my hand, I could not move it without excruciating pain, convinced I must have broken it somehow, off to the ER I went for an x-ray, but it came back negative for a break or fracture so I was sent home with a Motrin and an ice pack. The pain and swelling went away, but then it came back with an angry fury about every 10 days effecting one or both of my hands, the pain is paralyzing when it decides to arrive, which is without notice mind you, (rude) and I found myself fighting fatigue daily. I honestly thought at first the fatigue was a product of it being our busiest time at work, but as time passed I knew down deep this was like nothing I had ever experienced before (I am not even a napper!) What do you do when something like this happens? Well if you are me, or my twin Lauren you go on-line and self diagnosis your ailment, freak out, change your will, then go see the doctor. I walked into Dr. Drake’s office convinced from my expert non-medical school honors research and nothing rational to base my diagnosis on info ithat I indeed had “The Gout” (the is what my Grams called it.) Dr. Drake humored me and said it was possible but she also ran several other tests, and took time to look over the x-ray I had taken at the ER months earlier only to find out that while I did not break my hand, the x-ray did show signs of degenerative tissue damage. The results came back and I tested positive for the auto-immune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis, she could have told me I had auto- immune dreamy carrot cake disease and I would have known as much about that as I knew about RA. I thought it was something only older people were afflicted with…I was oh. so wrong. Figures. It generally comes calling to the ladies anytime after 40 and it’s a chronic inflammatory disease where your immune system mistakenly starts attacking your own body’s tissues, (hey, stop that already!) It goes for the lining of your joints, which can cause erosion and joint deformity, is also known to move on to your organs. Yep, sounds scary and I would be lying if I said I was not scared because I am a little scared. I have not worked out for months, my weight is up a bit and I am so, so ashamed to even type those words. To me it’s failure no matter how I beg and plead with myself that it’s not. It is, and my worst fear is happening… I am going backward instead of forward. I see a specialist in a few weeks and I will painstakingly be writing about this journey, because it is all I know to do. I am very grateful that it’s not a worse condition and that there is treatment to slow the deterioration down. Several people have told me, “Oh my (sister, aunt, cousin, mailman) has RA and they are fine. Which I pray is true for me as well, but right now most of the time moving is pretty painful, I feel like my body has been given a failing grade on it’s health inspection and it has decided to shut down. I have been doing my very best to hide the pain, and to not complain, trying desperately to keep up, but I realized today maybe that is where some of the fatigue is coming from. So here it is, I am struggling, and I am in pain. I have an unmeasurable amount of kindness around me, and I seem to get what I need when I need it. I am going to stop questioning that one day. I guess the pain came on little by little and I didn’t think much about it because if I am honest I just figured I deserved to be in pain for what I had done to my body for so long.
I have an appointment with an RA specialist at the end of October and we will go from there. This is not what I had in mind when I said September would be the month to start a new phase of the dog-lbs project but I am going to go with it and hope you all will stick around to see where this takes us.
P.S. -Tristan knows. Last week he jumped up on the couch with me, gently and meticulously he began licking my hands, the same exact way he would lick his paws that had been burned from his abuse when he first arrived at my house, soothing them the only way he knew how. He then licked the tears that trickled down my face. How can I deny this is all part of my personal journey. I can’t and I won’t so I will embrace whatever is coming my way with gratitude, understanding and humor as much as possible.