In 2008, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Back then, my biggest fear was disability. It is nearly five years later and I have been very blessed and fortunate that I continue to push forward despite dealing with daily chronic pain. I have also been lucky in the fact that I have never had to deal with anything that took away my ability to work or to care for loved ones. I have flare-ups – sometimes big, sometimes small. Despite my flare-ups, even the bigger ones, I carry on.
That first year I was diagnosed was the hardest of my life because of the pain but mostly because of the unknown. What exactly do I mean by that? I mean that I never know what to expect on any given day. I mean that I don’t know what my RA will be like in year or two. I don’t know if it is okay to make plans. I know I have come a long way but a flare-up still means the difference between being sick and life going on.
I had a flare-up recently that lasted well over two weeks and continues to linger. My doctor prescribed a Medrol pack to help me to deal with the flare-up. I don’t feel like I got much relief from using the Medrol. Mostly, I endured some awful side effects and probably some weight gain. You want to talk about the unknown? There it is! I spent five years avoiding Prednisone and now I finally know why. I was afraid that if I did not get the flare under control, the inflammation would cause damage to my joints. But between the overcharged appetite, muscle pain, swelling, nausea, heartburn, irritability, sleeplessness, etc., I would have rather endured the flare up.
Deciding to take the Medrol pack was a difficult decision and one I pondered over at least an entire day. I saw my doctor on a Tuesday and did not decide until late the following day whether I should consider this an option in helping with my latest flare. I really thought there would be light at the end of the tunnel once I finished the Medrol regimen. Sadly, I was mistaken and now, I am filled with regret at my choice to take the medication. I could not even stop taking it because I was told quitting would cause a much worse reaction. So, I finished the regimen and continued to endured side effects far worse than anything RA has thrown at me.
Remission used to be a dream that I thought was possible but after five years, I have learned that I can’t escape RA unscathed. I don’t think that I will ever be the worst case scenario but I don’t think I will be the best either. Heck, no one gets out this life unharmed! It is just the way it is. No one has an easy life and as my sister always says “you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”
I wish I could have remission or some answer or magic words to make life with RA easier but I don’t. I just know that every day I learn that there are more obstacles for me to climb. My RA isn’t getting any better and all I can do is pray that it does not get worse.