I’ve been working on figuring how to (or if I should) tell people that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. At first I was going to write a blog post about how the diagnosis came to be, but in the end it was just a sad, lame story about working in a grocery store. I was trying to make a story out of a handful of bullet points. Then I thought maybe I’d skip it… I’d informed the people who are in my proximity regularly. That seemed good enough.
However, in the time between receiving the diagnosis and getting to see the Rheumatologist, I kinda flipped the fuck out. I didn’t really know anything about it, so I googled it. And then the catastrophizing began. What I read was,
“Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is … a systemic autoimmune disease which attacks … the joints. It is an incurable disease affecting the synovial tissues which surround joints and … certain organs. [The] immune cells attack and eventually destroy otherwise healthy tissues… [T]issues which support and connect joints, and eventually the bone tissues themselves are gradually destroyed. The result is dislocation, disability, and deformity, often leading to multiple joint replacements.” RA Warrior
Couple that with the image on the Wikipedia entry, and my brain translated it to, “RA is an incurable auto-immune disease that will deform you horribly, and the pain you are feeling will be a part of the rest of your life.” Which is true, if we wanna get real technical about it, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow.
I had three weeks to stew between the diagnosis and getting in with my (amazing and highly revered) Rheumatologist. This gave me all the time I needed to read about various treatments, inflammatory foods, what to expect, etc. Despite being probably the best and most informative website, RA Warrior turned me into an RA worrier. I felt like my life was over. Of all the research I did, not one website said to me “Hey, you’re going to be okay.”
Within two DAYS of seeing the rheumatologist for the first time, I found myself in the back yard doing yard work FOR HOURS. WITH MY HANDS! The same hands that couldn’t even get a bra clasp together, or tie shoes, or hold a full glass of water for more than 3 seconds.
And this, I decided, is why I still need to write about it. Because I am okay. I am okay AND I found relief.
If you have recently been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, you too can find relief. There is hope. There is treatment. You are not alone. You will not be in pain for every moment of the rest of your life. Sometimes, probably, but you got this far! You can do it!!
Hey, you’re going to be okay.
This story is the first installment of me talking about RA, because it’s part of my life now, and this is my blog. If you don’t like it, might I recommend some cat pictures.