Saturday, March 17, 2012

Plain Would be Fine, too

It appears that I have early stage Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am waiting on a confirmation blood test but the doctor I saw on Thursday says it's 99% certain that's the problem. I realize this will elicit some, "Oh my god. I'm so sorry" responses. I, on the other hand, am happily relieved.

Happy? "How the (blank) can you be happy with a diagnosis of such a crippling disease?" I have a name now. I have a reason. I have something I can learn about, study and understand.

What this means is that there is a reason my hands, shoulders, knees and occasionally, my right hip hurt. There is a reason I've got such a loss of dexterity in my fingers in the morning. There is a reason I have only 40% of the strength in my arms. There is a reason I have a dry mouth and dry eyes and why my ankles swell in the evening. All of these are symptoms of RA. I didn't know this, but it's all tied together.

So where do I go from here? Up. Seriously. I had an array of blood work done to check all sorts of levels. I had a chest x-ray and have a bone density scan this coming Friday. I've been put on prednisone to start and will probably be taking a low dose of a chemotherapy drug which has been in use for over 50 years. My RA is in the early stages. Caught now, I can get most of my range of motion back, reduce the swelling, inflammation and pain in my joints and get on track to manage this. Life-changing diagnosis? Well, yes, but I welcome this. It's far and away better than hearing, "You're not 25 anymore and it takes time to heal." I can still do things that I love to do. Now, those things won't be painful.

I have to take the prednisone in the morning with breakfast. I don't skip breakfast anyway so this is not a change in routine. Gad it tastes awful. I would rather eat chalk. But a friend, Adrianna, suggested taking them with milk. I have to make sure I take a calcium and vitamin D supplement anyway because the chemo drug can reduce those levels. I can drink milk in the morning.

My friend, Amber, in Australia, can't get Pop Tarts at any sort of reasonable price so I bought a couple boxes to send her some. I was disappointed in the selection at the store. Not a plain tart in sight. Most of the selection was chocolate. What? Me not wanting chocolate? Actually, I don't like the chocolate Pop Tarts. They are artificial tasting and I think, "All this sugar". I had to settled for frosted tarts because they had no plain ones. I don't buy them often but they make a very easy breakfast in the morning when I'm rushed. The store manager was nearby and said he would look into keeping one plain variety on the shelf. The prednisone went down much easier today.

So, my road less traveled has taken a turn. I'm going to happily walk this path and see where it leads, Pop Tarts and ice cold milk in hand.

Beverage:  milk


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