Hitting the proverbial wall


This past week marked my 4th diagnosiversary.  January 11, 2006.  Woo hoo.  Did I plan any sort of celebratory event?  Um, no.  I do not celebrate things I’m not excited about.   I noted the date, rolled my eyes, and as best as I could tried to not think about it.  Unfortunately, my RA had different plans…

I’ve been fighting a low grade cold since before Thanksgiving.  I get almost better and then come in contact with someone who reinfects me.  It’s awesome.

I typically have “flares” when I’m either really stressed out or have any other sort of event that my immune system has to battle.  I swear, this RA thing is an absolute DIVA- if my immune system has to divert some of its forces to battle a cold, RA gets its panties in a wad and stages a mutiny.  This happens to me about twice a year.

I don’t have typical flares where all of a sudden my affected joints are completely swollen and locked.  Like I said, my flares are almost exclusively accompanied by a cold or flu. It’s more of a gradual thing and it’s more of a combination of different symptoms- I start to notice more swelling over a period of a few weeks that I can always find excuses for (overuse, increased exercise etc.), I usually start to experience minimal joint pain in joints that typically aren’t affected and then WHAM, my iron and potassium levels bite the big one.  The fallout from the drops in my iron and potassium are actually more incapacitating than the joint pain (now- this was not the case when I was newly diagnosed.)  This is usually followed by a dramatic increase in joint pain. Hence, hitting the proverbial wall.

Monday am, I awoke to increased swelling in my fingers despite having taken methotrexate on Sunday night.   That’s funny….but I’m on cold medicine so maybe it’s not working right.  I still figured nothing was amiss when Monday night I was in bed by 8:30pm.  I must’ve been tired- I don’t even remember falling asleep and I seriously feel like I was drugged.

It took me 45 minutes to get warm again after a client site visit on Tuesday.  I thought I bundled up enough.  Oh well, lunch will warm me up.  I seriously want the biggest rarest hamburger Cracker Barrel can give me.  And lots and lots of those salty steak fries! Those who are familiar with my eating habits would know that this is unusual.  

While driving on the highway back from my visit, I have to suddenly stop and take back roads because I’m so shaky.  I have this weird feeling that I am going to lose control of my car and slide sideways underneath a tractor trailer.  I’m never taking Mucinex again- makes me too jittery.

At a Tuesday evening dinner with my boss, I basically do not participate in any of the conversation because even though she’s talking to me about work, I can’t process any of the things she’s saying. I’m so tired.  All I want to do is go to bed.  This Mucinex and this cold have really knocked me out of whack.  And my feet are starting to hurt.  And my shoulder is sore right now too.  WTF!

On Wednesday morning, my coworker tells me that I look like I could be in Twilight.  Yay- I knew pale would finally come back in.  I know I’m sparkly like Edward.  When I finally looked in the mirror, I realize that I most certainly am NOT sparkly like Edward.  I have bags under my eyes and I’m gray.  I try to adjust my make up to hide this and end up looking like I’m wearing warpaint.  I decide to call it a day and go home and rest.  Afterall, this cold is kicking my ass.  My fingers really hurt, for some reason my left knee is bothering me, I’m bruised, I’m shaky, and I just can’t concentrate worth a damn.  I finally get my first thought that maybe it’s not just the cold at work here…

Wednesday evening, I leave my cave of a bedroom for a much needed haircut.  Hey, I am female- no cold gets in the way of beautification! LIGHTBULB!  EPIPHANY!  BREAKTHROUGH! When my hairdresser asks me what my favorite TV show is and even though I am concentrating intently on every word she’s saying, I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION NOR DO I HAVE AN ANSWER.  I nod in agreement that I just love watching The Bachelor (oh, the horror).  To set the record straight, I do not love watching The Bachelor.  I the opposite of love watching The Bachelor. I would rather watch paint dry. Upside down.  Naked.  In Times Square.

All of a sudden, this whole experience is hauntingly familiar.  Extreme fatigue- check.  Bruising- check. Acting like a space cadet on crack. Extreme mental fogginess- check. Strange muscle pain- check.  Increased joint pain- check.  Joint pain in places that usually don’t bother me- check.  

Ohmygod- I’m having a flare.  And I’m anemic.  And I’m hypokalemic.  

When paying at the salon, they ask me if I want to schedule another visit.  I don’t understand a word that they’re saying but tell them ‘no, I have to go to the doctor.’  They stare at me and half-smile when they take my money and watch me walk out the door.  They think I’m crazy.

I locate my iron and potassium supplements I have stashed in my car. (I know, shouldn’t be kept in the car!)  I am able to get into the doctor the next day to verify that I am indeed super low on iron and potassium.  I am told to keep taking the supplements and come back next week for a recheck. Thursday night, I sleep soundly and awake Friday morning well rested yet not feeling drugged.  My joints still hurt though.

Over the weekend, I concentrated on resting.  The joints are still more swollen than normal but the knee has backed off.  The bruises are already fading, I can actually hold coherent conversations.  I still have a cold.

I need to restrategize to figure out a way to pinpoint this earlier.  I also need to figure out how to more consistently take my supplements.  That’s another post though.  Titled: You’re an adult dammit, remember to do this crap!

I’m feeling better.  More than a little bit.  And feeling extremely dumb!

Happy Diagnosiversary, RA.  You are one heck of a skank.

20 responses »

  1. I feel horribly guilty for laughing at your misery, but you are so freakin funny! Regardless of how much I laughed, and there were quite a few chuckles, I feel ya on the aggrivations of illness part. My illness use to be episodic (had flares) and I know how easy it is to dismiss this or that, thinking “flare” only after all other reasoning fails. Sadly I don’t have any advice for better recognizing it though, and that now makes me really unclear as to why I’m taking up your comment space, ha, ha. While I’m here, know you’ve been heard and I’m sending the “feel better” vibes your way!

  2. Glad you finally figured out what was causing the odd symptoms. Taking meds and supplements IS a PITB, but not taking them is an even BIGGER one. Here’s hoping that cold finally lets go and you start feeling much better very soon.

    Hang in there, amandajohn!

  3. I swear, this RA thing is an absolute DIVA- if my immune system has to divert some of its forces to battle a cold, RA gets its panties in a wad and stages a mutiny.
    This is tooooo funny. Very well said.

    Sorry you’ve had to experience this, and hope you’re on top of things soon.

  4. Too hilarious a way to put it all! Have the docs said what might be causing the hypokalemia? Get a big weekly pill box to start putting all the darn supplements in. I know, I hate taking them too.

    • It only happens that way when I’m on mtx. They think its related to the stomach issues mtx causes in me. Fun times! I actually have one of those pill boxes- I never kept up with it. Ugh!

      • Well, ya got a point there, and I understand those fears. But I wonder how common neurotoxic side effects are with the small dosage amounts RA’ers take versus the large doses that cancer patients take? It m-i-g-h-t be very uncommon – but not something I’ve researched, so dunno.

  5. I always feel like an idiot because it takes me days to realize I’m in a flare. Thanks for this post – I’m glad to know I’m not the only one whose flares sneak up on them! Sometimes I wish they were more obvious – although that would suck too…

  6. You could’ve just wrote the last line… “Happy Diagnosiversary, RA. You are one heck of a skank.” and it would’ve said it all LOL 🙂 . I am starting the RA Examiner articles again this week, I may ask to borrow that for a title, it’s just awesome!

  7. Sorry you’re not sparkly like Edward (although I guess that could be a bit awkward – he certainly seems to think so) but glad you’re feeling better!

    My thoughts were the same as Tammy Renee – laughing my socks off and feeling somewhat guilty at the same time!

  8. Hello,
    As someone who blogs about RA, I thought you may be interested in a campaign called Hand in Hand for RA (www.handinhandforRA.com) that encourages people with RA to volunteer, share their stories and inspire others. The campaign is all about turning the tables on volunteerism and showing that people with RA don’t want to be held back by their disease – rather they can and want to give back to their communities. Please feel free to check out the site!

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