Before I begin, I want to genuinely thank each person who found themselves reading my first blog entitled, “The Challenge”. Your support drives me to continue to keep a positive attitude, because at times it’s hard to not feel discouraged after a “flare up”. (Basically a flare up is when you experience an enormous amount of extra pain, excess swelling and fatigue-they are absolutely no fun and can last for days, weeks, or months). If I can find a topic I’m passionate about, I do not have a single problem typing about it for long periods of time. I will try my best to update my blog a few times each week as I continue the fight with RA and appreciate your comments, prayers, and encouragement! Also, I decided to add another category, as some of you may have noticed called, “The Adventures of Braden Bradley”. The love I immediately gained after meeting my nephew over 18 months ago continues to grow, and it will be fun for me to share with you the moments that I treasure with him. Lastly, if any of you ever have a question about RA, my experience with RA, or any other questions regarding my medications that I take- which will be explained further in this post, please don’t hesitate to comment! THANK YOU!
So…to bring everyone up to speed from these past few days, on Thursday at 3:30 I had my second appointment with my Rheumatologist(rheumy). Thursday I experienced minimal/tolerable pain, which is a huge blessing in itself. As many of you can relate, just because your appt. is scheduled for a certain time doesn’t mean you actually “get in” at that time. Dr.’s offices are like a waiting line at Cedar Point. Though the anticipation behind standing in line for an exhilarating roller coaster doesn’t add up to the “excitement”(NOT) one experiences during the waiting process at the Dr.’s office, you’d be surprised to see the similarities. For example, when waiting in line at Cedar Point for let’s say…Millennium Force, you unintentionally observe the people in front and behind you and take note of people’s clothing, weird laughs, or sweaty armpits. Let’s hope there aren’t any sweaty armpits in the Dr.’s office… but I found myself observing the people around me-everyone does it. Another example is the false hope you feel, like when the line for MF moves yet you look ahead and realize your wait is still over an hour long, similar to when the door opens at the Dr.’s office and you think your name is going to be called when in reality it won’t be. So, as I was waiting, there were three loud yet very entertaining people. If my guess is correct, it was a grandma, her daughter and her granddaughter. The grandmother had a walker and from what I could tell, was probably in her late 70’s-early 80’s. The grandmother was filling out her paperwork which asks generic questions such as: do you have trouble getting out of bed, can you bend down easily, can you lift an object over five pounds, etc. After listening to her answer the questions as her daughter read them aloud, I learned that she deals with many pains. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what my future looks like. A small amount of discouragement was creeping into my mood when out of the blue her granddaughter, who appeared to be in her late twenties jokingly said, “Grandma, maybe we could use your arthritis as an advantage…like maybe we could get front row seats to a “Lady Gaga” concert.” Her grandmother to my surprise replied with, “Yeah, good idea, and I could even send her a telegram explaining to her all the troubles I experienced just getting to her concert. And you know what, I could be her grandma too.” Then her granddaughter replied with, “You know, that means you will have to wear crazy outfits!” The grandmother replied, “Okay, I don’t mind!” My discouraged mood seemed to have left me after I heard their conversation because I can only hope to have half the spunk that grandma has.
Finally my name was called and after getting my weight, blood pressure, and heart rate checked, I proceeded to wait for a while until my Dr. greeted me. He right away said it doesn’t look good, you definitely have RA. You see, in order to determine that I have RA, the blood work they took last appt. shows how many “antibodies” I have in my system that determine my level of inflammation. The test only goes up to 250, and my tests came back >250. He then explained to me the medications I must be put on. The first, plaquenil, a treatment more commonly used for treating malaria infections, is also a good medication for sufferers of lupus or RA. Plaquenil has the capability of reducing swelling and pain. Some side effects include: nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness. The second is called Methotrexate. Used in much higher dosages, it can actually be used to treat cancer patients. Methotrexate’s purpose is to interfere with cell growth ultimately suppressing the immune system. Side effects: nausea, vomiting, dizziness. I must take four pills at the same time, once a week. Lastly, I must take folic acid every day because of the effects of my other medication. If I fail to take it, I could have damage done to my eyes. Folic acid has very little side effects and is a B-vitamin that is needed to form healthy red blood cells. I was supposed to be prescribed prednisone, a steroid, but my Dr. never called in the order, which I’m glad cause there are numerous amounts of side effects that come along with it. Bottom line, unless things change, I will be taking these for the rest of my life. At twenty, I’m not fond of being put on medication but I keep telling myself, it can only help.
Friday I had minimal pain. I picked up the prescriptions and kept praying that they would be inexpensive. Prayers were answered, I paid less than $20, thanks to insurance. I will begin treatment Saturday, after I read the large amount of paperwork that came along with my meds. I am very thankful for a wonderful pharmacist-Kent Zellner. He explained each medication to me and seemed genuinely interested in my well-being. I suppose other than minimal pain, my only complaint is the fatigue that I am plagued with on a daily basis. It’s the kind of fatigue where your eyes are heavy, your body feels weak, and you feel like you could sleep for days. Thankfully I do not have sleeping issues at this time, I normally can fall asleep within minutes.
As I close this blog this Saturday afternoon, I ask that you please continue to pray for my brother Brad. Ever since Monday, he’s been admitted at the Cleveland Clinic and we are going to visit him today. He is a Lupus warrior, but unfortunately he’s now dealing with anxiety and anxiousness as he’s been there longer than he’d like. His heart rate speeds up when he does simple activities, like getting up to use the bathroom, or walking around. He will have a heart test done in a few days because they found a small “vegetation”/spot on his heart. We are hoping antibiotics can clear that up. He needs our support, and we are more than happy to comfort him in any possible way.
Until next time, keep smiling.
“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (NLT)