When I first received my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis a couple of years ago, my rheumatologist told me to let her know if I experienced dry eyes and dry mouth. Now that my second winter with RA is here, I have been forced to through another round of testing to rule out other conditions to confirm or rule out a Sjogren’s syndrome diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed with RA, I started to educate myself as many RA’ers do. When I started dealing with both dry eyes and dry mouth, I knew that something was up, but after repeated attempts to inform my rheumatologist, I never really got my point across. Well, I finally did when I started to deal with voice hoarseness, trouble swallowing, dry skin, red itchy eyes, swollen glands, and much, much more. Now, we are back to square one with testing that I believe isn’t necessary. In the meantime, and if there is accurate diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome, we treatment the symptoms.
I feel like screaming to my doctor that this is winter with rheumatoid arthritis and the precautionary testing is a waste of time. Basically, they will be testing my swallowing and chest x-rays that seem to be the focus of the testing. Not painful, but time-consuming – time that I do not necessarily have.
Making time for Rheumatology appointments and testing forces me to take time away from other health screenings that I feel are more necessary – dental, GYN, vision, etc. You get the point – RA is time consuming. I also have to take into consideration my children’s appointments, sick days for my children and myself, a job search, and my ordinarily busy life. Between the hustle and bustle of my life, I am lucky I remember to take my RA meds.
Now I know I shouldn’t complain. Despite my RA getting worse and forcing me to slow down and make lifestyle changes, I have a lot in my life to be grateful. For one, I am not alone. I have a family who loves me and needs me despite RA and as tough as that makes my condition, it also gives me a reason to fight. RA is time-consuming, but it is given me strength to move mountains and for that, I am grateful.