Friday, April 2, 2010

New Rheumatologist Appointment

Anxiety. Definitely not a trait that haunts me often, but when I visit the rheumatologist's office it takes over my entire being . I develop a huge feeling of fear and anger before I even hit the front doors. Why? Once I open the doors to the office building I feel doomed and out of place. With every appointment I have had in this office I sit next to elderly patients that struggle to get up and have never once seen anyone my age, there are posters of joint deformities in the patient's room that scare the pants off me, and I associate the office with all the side effects that come with the medications. I also associate it with lost hope.

When I arrived I was told I couldn't switch doctors without their consent. I explained that when my PCP referred me to the new rheumatologist I didn't even realize that she was in the same office. After fighting with them a while I told them I would just cancel and find another office. They went ahead and let me see the new rheumatolgist, but I could hear them talking in the back room quite surprised that someone would switch doctors without their consent. This doesn't seem that strange to me. Does it you?

The new rheumatologist is young, full of energy, and fast. And, she doesn't have a fear of my feet! The kids used to go with me to my appointments and we would always laugh afterwards because my feet used to hurt horribly and my old rheumatologist would rarely touch them and when he did, you could tell it really grossed him out. We quickly discussed my RA history, she reviewed my recent x-rays and blood work and added some additional blood work. Originally I was negative for RA factor, which I know many people are. She wants to retest and see where that stands now. Also, she drained the fluid from my knee which had ballooned the night before my appointment. There was a lot of fluid. Yuck! The results on the fluid came back with high inflammation. She confirmed that I have severe rheumatoid arthritis which I was already aware of. She would like for me to start on medications and will call next week with her exact recommendations after seeing the rest of the lab work.

I have been awake endless hours thinking about what I want to do. My first reaction was lots of tears and panic. Then I moved to sadness and finally I am to the point of looking at my options again. One part of me really just wants to take the medications, cross my fingers and hope they work. But, there are no guarantees of that. I have read too many stories of RA friends that have gone from medication to medication and still live most days like me. But, they could work too. There are wonderful stories of RA friends that are doing great! It just isn't settling right with me. I have worked too long to be drug free and still trust there is something alternatively out there for me. I am meeting with my original naturopath tomorrow morning to discuss my options. She will be brutally honest with me. If she feels I should do medications, she will tell me. I think she has one more idea up her sleeve though that I have been reading about and it looks promising. I will share more when I have talked with her.

This long, painful flare has reminded me that rheumatoid arthritis is a very serious disease that is a part of my life and will always be a part of my life. I have made so many good changes in my life due to trying to find an alternative route to curing this and I am not about to just give up on that. At some point I may have to integrate more than I am now and many of you may feel that I am living in "La La Land" for not doing so already. But, I have always been good at following my heart and my heart is telling me it isn't quite ready to give up yet. It still sees another way for me or maybe new things about myself I need to learn before throwing in the towel. I am confused, I will admit that. But after a few days of crying, talking, and researching I am finding myself again. I like that feeling. I now have all the current information regarding where my rheumatoid arthritis stands and I will just have to think carefully about how I personally want to treat it.