I’ve been cleaning out my office, getting rid of old papers and transcribing some of the hundreds of handwritten pages I had stored away into my word processor. Writing has always been my catharsis, my therapy. And I’ve come to realize just how much as I go through the stack of pages and numerous journals.
Reading these pages have brought back memories, and I suppose I could also say, have wrung back memories as well. Sometimes it hurts to remember. Sometimes remembering brings back the pain, emotional and physical.
I have always known that I’d had RA for some time before I was officially diagnosed in 2004. I knew I’d been sick, tired, listless, and pain-ridden for several years before my current rheumatologist finally produced that Aha! moment, when I finally knew what I was up against. Prior to that moment of revelation, I’d blamed it all on being a busy mom at home and a busy nurse at work.
But my assumption was that it had been only a couple of years. It couldn’t have gone on for more than that without a proper diagnosis, could it? Without my searching for and demanding an answer as to what ailed me.
Imagine my surprise when I found a letter I’d written to my husband who was out at sea in 1995. By the looks of it, I never mailed it. I probably meant to, but was so busy I forgot. Or maybe I changed my mind and decided not to burden him with my tale of woe. More than likely, I felt so much better after pouring out my angst onto the paper that I didn’t need to.
What I wrote astounded me in that apparently, I’d had RA back then. I had it and didn’t know it. And neither did my doctors because when I started the letter I was sitting in the internist’s waiting room, waiting to find out my lab results regarding my “inflammatory process.” Waiting to find out what was wrong with me. In it I write:
I tried going off my Prednisone. I hate being on steroids but my hands became very painful so I went back on it. But my right hand is worse, My grip is weak because it hurts when I try to grip things like when wringing the mop. Yesterday, I met a new doctor at work and he shook my hand. To me, it seemed so hard, I saw stars and it hurt for hours. . . . My hands getting worse is very depressing.
I go on to describe a nightmare I had about something drastic happening to my left hand. I will not subject you to the details. Suffice to say, it was so horrible that it yanked me terrified out of my sleep and I could not go back to sleep for the rest of that night.
It just goes to show how RA can affect our subconscious, as well as our body. And unless I come across other writings, that describe my symptoms so accurately, from before the summer of ’95, it would appear that I have had RA not for twelve or so years, but for at least twenty-one.
In my last post, I mentioned how my lab numbers are now normal, after a supposed twelve-year span. But with this new/old information, I’m wondering if perhaps, like my kids, RA has reached its maturity and has moved away.
One can only hope.
BTW, my left hand is just fine. So far.
Hi Irma: It’s amazing to look back and see how we described our symptoms before we got our actual diagnosis. I hope you and your husband and family are all doing well. Sending warm hugs your way.
Hi, Carla. I was so shocked when I read that letter. I guess I was writing to my future self. Can’t wait to find out what other tidbits are tucked away. They do say to put what you write away for a while so you can return to edit and revise with fresh eyes, but I don’t think they mean for twenty years! Everything is going good here, making progress. But I’m taking it one day at a time. And giving thanks each day for a new dose of sunshine. Hope all is well with you.
Sad that it takes so long for diagnosis sometimes. I think it was only 2 years or so for me. It also shows how we sometimes will continue to push through life because that’s what we do. I will echo Carla’s sentiments that it is nice to hear from you . I hope more than your left hand is fine. I’m on my honeymoon in Mexico. Had a secret wedding last week with 6 guests and took off for a week. Amazing how good I feel with half my meds and no stress!
OMG! Congratulations! How wonderful for you. I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling good and enjoying a honeymoon, no less. Have a wonderful time and may you continue to feel good for the longest time ever.
I often look back to a year before my diagnosis and always wonder if RA was already settling in. Strange random joints in pain, swelling up then disappearing – I always attributed them to minor injuries in dance class, or spending too much time on the keyboard. Now I think maybe it was the first clue to what to expect. But despite it all, I have found a way to continue my life – maybe not the way I had planned, but just as satisfying. I am so happy to hear that you are doing well, and I hope RA has moved out 🙂 X.