As my friend celebrated her 40th birthday last week, I realized I've now had rheumatoid arthritis for 10 years. That seems unbelievable to me. So, I thought to record my thoughts on the experience, the good, bad, and life lessons.
The disease crept into me during my friend's 30th b-day party. I went to stand in the restaurant, and it had crawled about halfway into my body. By the end of the evening, it had spread completely, into every joint from head to toes.
Instant with a blood test within the next few days. Waiting for the rheumatologist appointment for 3 months was a trial. There were nights of crying and walking to unclench joints.
Vioxx (later removed from the market) methotrexate (a cancer drug which caused temporary memory loss like I couldn't remember how many children I had) Enbrel (the wonder drug, but it lowered my immune system until I got chicken pox at 40) To now (living very small and quietly with little meds until something new is discovered)
* Seeing the vial of unnaturally yellow methotrexate that I had to squirt onto my tongue with a needle made me realize my normal life was truly changing
* Meeting the old deformed rheumatoid arthritis lady in the lobby of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel which brought the disease home for the first time
* Injecting extremely slowly two burning shots a week into my thighs
* Waiting behind as fam and friends hike to amazing places
* Not being able to dance or exercise
* Not being able to sing anymore because, who knew, there's a joint in your voice box
* Slowing down so much that being able to braide my daughters' hair can be seen as a gift
* Truly being aware that my body is a full part of me and not denying it
* Accepting my appearance because mobility is so much more important
* Being able to empathize with others who suffer physical trials
There's the top of my mind after 10 years of rheumatoid which has also included:
Glaucoma, Sjogren's, Lupus concern, Hashimoto's Disease, Reynaud's, tongue surgery, foot surgery, Chicken Pox, Thyroid Cancer/Surgery/Radioactive Treatment.
Many thanks to my patient family and friends. Only by grace. Onward, however slowly.