I’ve debated whether or not to blog about this. On the one hand, I don’t have any concrete answers. On the other, I feel I’m *thisclose* to finally getting some answers, whatever those may be. One thing’s for certain: the last couple of months have been rough physically and emotionally.
Last Friday I went to visit a rheumatologist because the pain in my joints had started to interfere with regular activities, like brushing my teeth, walking up stairs, typing. The beginning of the semester brought with it subtle pains in my jaw and my wrists, but by last week, I was aching in elbows, ankles, fingers, toes. Forget wearing heels – I couldn’t do that (I tried, heeled boots, and boy did I regret it!) Added to that was the fact that sleep has been shaky for the bulk of this semester. My son went through over a month of night terrors, and while he doesn’t have those severe episodes anymore, he’s still waking up at least once or twice throughout the night (monsters, shadows seem to be the culprits). My memory has been fading. All this I understood to be part of the role of a parent. Suck it up, right? Then, why, when he does sleep, do I still have trouble sleeping? The few times he slept through the night, or those Saturdays when my mom took him, I still woke up a few times or, if I slept through, I still woke up tired. And the week before Halloween, I had my first anxiety attack. This can’t just be a turning-30 thing. There’s more, but I’ll spare you the entire clinical symptom list.
During my regular doctor’s office, when I had the anxiety attack and she claimed I was too young to be having a heart attack, she suggested if the joint pain continued to go see a rheumatologist. So I did just that (right when I struggled to brush my teeth and, after, dying my hair, my left arm became practically useless).
I took a leap of faith and picked a name out of the listing. I saw some reviews, all positive, online, so I went with my gut. I wanted a woman doctor (for whatever reason I feel more comfortable with them) and received my appointment with one of the newer doctors in the group the Friday after I got back from Sanibel. After a slew of questions and xrays to the wrists/hands and knees, this is what she said: From the physical examination, she suspects fibromyalgia. I looked up the symptoms to fibromyalgia and they do seem to fit. However, apparently, fibromyalgia is only diagnosed through exclusion of other diseases with similar symptoms: hypothyroidism, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), vitamin D deficiency, strep-induced RA. So I got six vials of blood taken and I’m anxiously watching my phone for the results. One reason why I’m anxious is because back in 2005, my ANA (antinuclear antibodies) came out positive/elevated and since then, have for the most part remained positive (they have gone back to “normal” once or twice – I get them checked every year). Positive ANAs are, sometimes, precursors to autoimmune disorders, like lupus and RA. So of course, I’m nervous.
The xrays showed I have the beginnings of osteoarthritis in my knees, which really means I have to get up off my behind find time to exercise and lose weight. Walking, according to the doctor, is not enough. I need something like an elliptical machine. Which means gym. And I have no time for gym. I barely have time to grade all my students’ papers! But whatever- I have to figure how to make it happen. The xrays also showed some possible inflammation in my fingers.
But I can’t jump to conclusions, so I not-so-patiently wait for the blood work results (which I was told could take up to a week). All I really want is to find out what’s going on in me so I can get some energy back and not feel like I’m falling apart. Is that really too much to ask?