In May of 2014 we moved. We had lived in the same house for nearly 13 years. Raised our kids there.
That same month my thumbs started hurting. More like an ache. I’d wake up and they’d be stuck. It bounced around all my fingers at different times. Noticeable and annoying, but not more than that.
My hip has hurt for years, there’s bursitis on the right side.
I have had so many knee surgeries I lost count.
When I broke my leg in 2003 doc put my ankle back together with some titanium plates.
So when all these joints started hurting at the same time, I didn’t think anything of it. Logic and reasoning told me they should hurt.
Of all the aches and pains I had, the hand pain, specifically the fingers, just didn’t make sense. I could logic my way into all of the others.
A few months after we moved, I still hurt. I started to think maybe something in the house was making me sick. I researched and researched and found nothing that had symptoms like I did.
The pain grew, both in intensity and area. My wrists were now hurting. HURTING. It would keep me awake. And if I happened to fall asleep, the pain would wake me up whenever I moved my hands in my sleep. Well, since I spend most of my days at a desk on a computer, I’m thinking repetitive stress injury for sure. I pull out the wrist rests for the keyboards, get some immobilizers on and assume all will be well sooner or later.
I was a zombie. I have always been that person asleep on the plane before take-off. I could sleep anywhere as long as I was tired. Lights on, lights off, who cares. Suddenly I wasn’t sleeping.
This is what got me to go to the doctor. We are now in January 2015.
My primary care thought nerve pain. Good answer, that would make sense. She gave me some meds that would maybe reduce the (nerve) pain at bedtime and sent me to a hand specialist.
The meds were a gift. I slept. Almost like a normal person.
The hand specialist got me in the same week. During the getting to know you Q&A of the first appointment, doc kept asking me when did this start hurting, when did that start hurting. I didn’t know. I told her I was just an aches and pains kind of person.
She said “that’s not a thing.”
With her exam she found a tendon sheath that was swollen and unhappy and we both decided to go with a steroid injection. For the record, don’t be fooled by the little needle. That hurt like a sonofabitch. She also ordered some labs “just to be safe”.
I went across the street for the blood draw. The lab is part of my regular doctor’s office. Been going there for more than 15 years. This one time, they lost the labs. Never got the results.
But, I was feeling fine. The steroid shot worked on the wrist. The pills from doc helped me sleep. Every other ache I could easily explain. So I did what any of us would have done, I ignored it.
Then everything hurt. Top to bottom. For hours every day. Crying to carry the blind 8-pound dog down stairs to go outside. Not able to brush my hair. Not able to brush my teeth. Getting dressed was so exhausting I was better off in my jammies. I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband. He did everything. He got really good at putting my long hair in a ponytail. Could help me get dressed. Cooked. Cleaned. He cut my food for me when I couldn’t hold both fork and knife at the same time. I’m crying now thinking how much I have to ask of him. No one wants to depend on someone for basic everyday things. I had no choice. And I had no idea why.
Everything hurt. I dreaded waking up in the morning, not knowing how much I would hurt or what new body part would join the show.
Back to the internet. Rheumatoid arthritis kept coming up. No matter how I massaged those search terms, that’s what I got. Talking with my husband about it all the time, and neither of us knew what it was, but both felt that, nah, not RA.
I needed to get lab work done. I didn’t want to make an appointment to see my doc. I didn’t want to share my fears with the world. Sharing that, saying it out loud, made it real. As long as I kept my mouth shut, I could pretend I’d wake up one day and it would be gone just as fast as it showed up.
I found a lab online that would let you pick what labs you wanted and email the results. Perfect. When I went to order the test, the RA factor, it was on sale! You got that test for free with the purchase of any other lab test. Ok, what else did I need? There’s a test for something called CCP antibodies. Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Antibody. If this comes back high, it’s pretty much rheumatoid arthritis. Add to it my symptoms and it would be an actual diagnosis. Not a good one, but at least the beast would have a name.
It’s now May 2015.
I didn’t tell anyone. I was sure that I was wrong. I had to be wrong. But had to get that negative result so I could move on to figuring out what was really going on.
My RA factor came back on the high-end of normal. Had I only gotten that one test, I would have gone back to square one. But since there was a sale on lab tests, I got the extra one. CCP reading of less than 20 is negative. The scale slides on up to a reading of 60 being strongly positive. Mine was 136.
How’s that for an exclamation point?
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Now what?
Well, step one, telling husband. Ok, that was step two, because step one was crying like a baby.