Yesterday, I got a call from my new rheumatologist with the results of some recent X-rays he ordered.
Oh wait, some exposition first for those who are new to the show: Almost a decade ago (have I really been an “adult” for an entire decade?) I started getting severe pain and stiffness in my joints, especially my back and neck, and I was told it was most likely a rare and chronic type of arthritis. They tried various uber-strong painkiller meds on me, which gave me lots of stomach pain and didn’t really help the joint pain at all, plus I do have a bit of a rebellious streak, so I just stopped taking them. Swimming and stretching helped a lot and didn’t make my stomach hurt, so I stuck with that.
Now, years later, the pain has been getting worse, so I went back to the doctors circuit (primary care provider to blood tests to rheumatologist to x-rays to more blood tests etc.) to see what was up. And it seems these latest X-rays show that my joints have degenerated, with quite a bit of visible damage on my spine.
So in the first 24 hours or so since this news, I have experienced three reactions to this:
- Whoa, this is actually serious. I really do have a chronic problem I need to deal with.
- I feel oddly relieved to get a verifiable confirmation of the pain I’ve been feeling for almost 10 years. I know that probably sounds strange, but a big part of me is like, hey this is not just in my head and it’s not just me being whiny, something really is happening in my body, yay.
- I feel hopeful, because apparently there have been a lot of advances in treatment of this in recent years (mostly involving biologics) that seem to be quite effective. And, in contrast to the meds they tried on me before (which only put a band-aid on the symptoms, if that) these new treatments actually address the cause and can help prevent further joint deterioration and loss of mobility. This is most definitely a Good Thing, plus I get to take part in a very science-fictioney treatment.
So mostly I am feeling pretty good about this, because I’m in the same condition and position I was two days ago, I just have some new information, and information is usually a useful thing to have. I don’t anticipate posting regular medical updates here, but for some reason this time I felt the urge to share.