It’s scary. It’s daunting. It’s the Unknown. The Unseen.
And while it takes many forms, this time it’s so personal that fighting it seems nearly impossible.
In the summer of 2011, my body started having unusual symptoms. It started in my right foot, and I had believed it was a sports injury of some kind. I was avid gym junkie, working out on average one to two hours per day, four or five days a week. I would run, cycle, lift weights, jump rope. I was in good shape. Probably the best shape of my life up to that point.
When my foot started aching, I tried resting it. After several weeks, with no improvement, I sought out some medical advice from a friend of mine – a certified physician’s assistant. The diagnosis, she thought? Plantar fasciitis.
So, I picked up a little shunt for the foot, and one night I put it on. I awoke in the morning with such pain running through my leg, I thought I would cry. It was throbbing, and it felt like a vice was squeezing the insides of my foot. It took a day or two before the pain subsided to the point that it was previously.
Now approaching September, it had spread. My leg was stiffening, and I wasn’t moving as easily as I used to. I had stopped working out. I couldn’t control my leg. I went for ex rays on the foot, visited a podiatrist. No breaks, no unusual skeletal or muscular problems.
In October I visited a them park. Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights. I went unaided, but probably with a bottle of aspirin or Tylenol. Popping them temporarily relieved the pain. By the end of the night, only six hours on my feet, I could not stand without assistance. I was shambling, no longer walking. I thought perhaps I was dying. That some mysterious neurological ailment was shutting my body down, piece by piece.
The next month was the worst, and I walked with a cane. It took nearly fifteen minutes to get out of bed. Every part of my body was in terrible pain. The zest I had for life was leaving me. I had scheduled more doctor appointments, CAT scan, MRI, blood work. The doctors thought it important to rule out cancer.
The doctor noticed high sed rates (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) in my blood levels, and referred me to a specialist. A rheumatologist. In the interim I was prescribed Celebrex, a strong, nasty anti-inflammatory. And, it worked.
For the next three months, before the specialist could see me, I took Celebrex and began feeling revived. Energy levels came back, pain subsided, and I had a semblance of life again.
In January, 2012, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Suddenly, my invisible affliction had a name.
And yet, there was something unsettled for me regarding this diagnosis. That will be the crux of what I write about in this medical series, as I explore new options for my health. Because over the last six years I’ve been on numerous medications, suffered flare-ups and bouts of depression and anxiety, visited with holistic specialists, and have wondered whether I would ever have a normal life again.
I don’t yet know the answers, but I’ll share the questions on here, and what I find out.