We know that stress exacerbates your symptoms. Whatever is happening to you, whatever horrible, no good, very bad thing is happening to you, stress will ultimately make it worse.
My last rheumy visit in July came after a two-month sojourn to care for my one-year-old granddaughter. I expected my lab numbers to be off the charts; after all, running after a toddler is a thing for the young, not the young at heart.
I loved spending time with her and now miss her terribly, but I won’t sugarcoat the fact that I sometimes felt I needed a crane to lift me out of bed in the morning. It had been thirteen years since I’d had to put in twelve-hour-plus days, and never five days a week.
But love got me through. And though, I was happy to have this time with her, I knew I needed to be home as well. Two months was a long stretch to be gone and a lot was happening at home during that time. Each day I crossed off one more date on my calendar, tallying up the days spent with my precious baby, and then immediately counted the days remaining before I could go home. I went from exultant to torn within 30 seconds.
I figured that between the physicality of my days and the emotional tug of war, my inflammation markers would be off the charts. Imagine my surprise to learn that I’d sailed through that tumultuous ocean of stress with nary a splash on me.
At least, a medically documented splash. My calendar is full of micro notes as to what was happening to my body during that May and June. The aches and pains that came and went at their whim. One definite flare that thankfully disappeared within a couple of days. Regardless, I presented so well at my July visit that he pushed my next visit up three months, instead of the usual two.
Well. Those next three months saw even more ups and down. Physical and emotional. And again I wondered, will my labs reflect that? Will they be a tell-tale sign of sciatica pain, shingles pain (still with me on and off), and the pain felt over the loss of my father-in-law less than three months after the loss of my mother-in-law? Will they snitch on the occasional joint pain and point to the now persistently inflamed and sometimes useless left wrist?
Apparently not. At yesterday’s visit I learned my CRP is elevated just barely enough so that it can be called “high.” My Sed rate is normal, as it is 99% of the time. Those are the two markers I pay attention to as they reflect the amount of inflammation in my body, which in turn explains the pain and stiffness I feel. Or should explain.
Two weeks ago, I’d gone to see my PCP about the wrist as it was going on a month. He put me on Naproxen twice a day for ten days. I didn’t do it, of course. I took it once daily. I did do a Prednisone hit. That helped a little.
Now my rheumy said to me, “We have four choices. Do you know what they are?”
“Wait,” I said.
He nodded. Time heals.
I waited and he recited the other three choices using his fingers to count them off. “Increase the Methotrexate. Start Corticosteroids. Start a biologic.”
“No,” I said. “No biologic. I’m not ready to make that leap.” My right hand made a leaping motion and landed on its side on the desk between us. “I’ve used Humira,” I said, “and all it did was make me go broke.”
“OK.” He went back to the drawing board (his laptop) and came up with a plan. “We’ll go up to ten (pills) of Methotrexate (max of 25 mg). We’ll do the steroids. Injection or oral?”
“Oral.” He’s offered the shots so many times and I always politely decline.
“And we’ll do Naproxen.” That again!
So we formulated a three-point plan to regain my left wrist. That was twenty-four hours ago and wouldn’t you know it, today the swelling is down and it barely hurts. All this tells me one thing: Ti-i-i-i-ime is on my side.
Yes, it is.