Yesterday really sucked…
If I kept a journal, that’s probably what I’d write. Yesterday did suck and today isn’t shaping up to be much better 😖
Two weeks ago my battle to stay off insulin finally ended with me throwing in the towel. Despite my best efforts there was simply no more that I could do and my doctor agreed. It was a blow. It has taken me the better part of three years to wrap my head around my initial diagnosis and then actually do something about it.
So that was two weeks ago.
Up until yesterday I was actually doing pretty good. I’m only on a single dose, slow-release formula for insulin and it has cut down on the number of pills I have to take. My blood sugar levels are slowly coming into normal range and adding the insulin to my daily routine has barely effected it. I was actually feeling like I was making good progress.
Yesterday I had an appointment with a specialist that was totally unrelated to my diabetes. Last October I injured my ankle and developed achilles tendinopathy. (I wrote about that here) In the course of talking things over with my physio, he suggested I should speak to my doctor about the other aches and pains I was feeling. I kind of blew him off thinking that I was an over-weight, forty-five year old woman, aches and pains were expected.
But when the pain didn’t seem to be getting any better, despite losing weight and increasing my physical fitness, I spoke to my doctor and he sent me for some tests with came back with a whole lot of ambiguity. So he referred me to a specialist.
It took eight weeks to get in to see the specialist–a rheumatologist–and then I had to wait an hour to see him because he was running behind schedule. Needless to say my anxiety was spiking by the time he finally called my name.
I had contemplated walking out and telling the receptionist not to worry about my appointment. I believed I would walk into his room and he would tell me that it was all in my head and nothing was wrong with me. I expected him to say, “you are an over-weight, forty-five year old woman, aches and pains are to be expected.”
He didn’t say that.
I may have waited for an hour to see him, but he spent an hour with me going over all my patient history and then examining me. The questions were hard, like “how long have you felt this pain?” My unspoken response didn’t seem appropriate (Um…forever?) so I made an educated guess. To be honest, it does feel like I’ve been in pain forever and it’s really hard to nail down when I started noticing it. With every question he asked I began to feel like I was disappointing him somehow. I felt that my answers were incorrect. I wanted to just say, “look, don’t worry about it. It’s probably just all in my head. I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
Instead, I answered his questions meekly, feeling smaller and smaller by the minute. I was ready for him to tell me that it was nothing and I was just training too much or I needed to lose more weight or I was just getting old.
“You have arthritis. There are more than one hundred different types of arthritis and it is often difficult to determine a specific type, but with the symptoms you have described it has narrowed it down to a very specific arthritis and that is psoriatic arthritis. There is no cure…”
The rest of his little speech seemed to morph into a blur (not unlike the teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoons.) He asked me if I had any questions. I wanted to ask, “Why? Why me? Why now? I already have Type II Diabetes, I don’t want another incurable, life-long illness to deal with. I’ve barely come to terms with the first one!”
I didn’t say that.
I wanted to cry. I still want to cry.
Arthritis is one of those words that people banter around whenever they feel a little stiff or their joints pop and crack. Not unlike the word ‘flu.’ Arthritis is a disease society associates with older people. But as I’ve researched this disease I now have a better understanding of it. As my specialist said, “age has nothing to do with it.”
PsA (Psoriatic Arthritis) is an autoimmune disease, meaning it occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, in this case the joints and skin. The faulty immune response causes inflammation that triggers joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The inflammation can affect the entire body and may lead to permanent joint and tissue damage if it is not treated early and aggressively.
I have added three new drugs to my life. The need to lose weight is even more urgent now.
I sat on the lounge last night and talked to my husband about what this means for us. I don’t want to become a burden on him. I know our wedding vows spoke about ‘in sickness and in health’ but never did it occur to me that there might come a day when he would have to care physically for me.
I also know I am jumping the gun. I know that with medication and management I can reduce the impact this diagnosis has on my life.
But it took me three years to deal with my first diagnosis! I can’t afford another three years to get my head around this one!
The only thing keeping me together at this point is my absolute angel of a husband. He said to me this morning, “You are still the same person who woke up yesterday. Nothing has changed.”
And he’s right. I am still the same person. Knowing the why doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t make my symptoms worse and it doesn’t mean my life is over. Knowing the why gives me a chance to fight it. Knowing what’s wrong gives me the opportunity to do something about it.