Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A bit of hope

One day, April 2009, I started my drive to Boston to meet a new rheumatologist. I had done my research and he was ranked one of the top in the country. He had lead clinical trials which resulted in stopping the effects and in some cases reversing damage done by autoimmune diseases. He had won many awards. His credentials went on and on. I was very optimistic.

I went into the office. The staff was amazingly nice. I wasn't an inconvenience. I wasn't invisible. I was me. And the receptionist wanted to know if it was a good day for me or a bad day for me. I was 45 minutes early because we had anticipated traffic. We didn't mind waiting. But we never did! The doctor came right out. "you came from CT" the doctor says "let's get you back on the road".

I settle into the exam room and he looks right at me and says your ANA tilter is 1:164 (normal person is 1:2, 1:30 starts the autoimmune range. It just means you have anti nuclear antibodies. It should take a few tries to dilute them in a healthy person so they wont be a bother. My # meant it took 164 times) The doctor took one look at me and says "you have rheumatoid arthritis". Talk about your mixed feelings!! I was so elated! Finally a diagnosis! A doctor that validates that I can't tie my shoes some days, that I can barely do stairs! I cried I was so happy. So relieved! Then it settled in. The doctor was talking to me. Somewhere between the words treatment plan, and no cure, I realized I was sick. Really really sick.

My cousin has lupus so I knew about autoimmune diseases. I was aware of the damaging medications from her and from school. 10 years later and her organs are shutting down. Fear set in. I have a husband. I have a 5 year old. I'm only 33!

So the plan was regular visits. Methotrexate (type of chemo that kills cells, pill form), Humira (low scale biologic that rebuilds cells, 1 shot in leg or stomach once a week), Celebrex (anti inflammatory) , and Tramadol (a pain killer). And a visit to a cardiologist up there to deal with my high blood pressure.

That's enough for today. This was the start of my ongoing treatment plan. There were some bumps in the road but we'll get to those soon.


  1. Wow! I can only imagine how relieved you were to get a diagnoses. Other then your positive ANA, did anything else say RA? Just curious is all. You mentioned your cousin had Lupus and a positive ANA can also indicate lupus. I am presuming the doctor did a full exam of your joints and ran another test for ra (the name fails me at the moment)? Tell more! Tell more! You got me hooked :-)

  2. No just the extreme joint pain, inflammation, swelling, and xrays. That test was neg. They think because I had already been on the meds for months when they did the test.