Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Health Diagnosis

As I mentioned on my Project 365, I finally have a diagnosis.

While I was pregnant, I had aches and pains. Normal right? Absolutely. I felt stiff and sore. I had trouble getting my hips, knees and ankles to cooperate after I got out of bed in the morning. And like you would if you were pregnant, you would attribute the aches to the pregnancy.

So I dealt with it. And I thought that after the baby arrived, all would be better. The aches and pains would eventually be resolved. I delivered Petite in August 2009 and by Christmas that year, still in pain.

Spring 2010... still in pain. I thought, "This is weird," and I mentioned it to my doctor. Nothing strange or startling according to her though. So we let it go on some more. Fall 2010, I mentioned it again. She didn't seem too terribly concerned, but noted it in the file. This past year, I continued to have pain and voiced it yet again in September.

She referred me to a rheumatologist (I thought she was a bit off her rocker to be honest) and she also referred me for physio and an MRI for my swollen ankle and heel... an injury ongoing since July 2010. I had the MRI and that diagnosed Haglund's syndrome (swollen bursa, inflamed Achilles, etc.). I have been doing the physio and that was helping. But the pain in the joints, notably ankles, knees, hips and elbows, remained.

I saw a rheumatologist early in January. One of the first questions he asked, "Do you have psoriasis? Is there a family history of psoriasis?" Yep. I have psoriasis, mild though it is. It is much worse in the winter months with the -30 degree weather that chaps my hands and elbows. I have a prescription cream (Dobovet) to ease the symptoms and cracking.

He initially diagnosed psoriatic arthritis. I thought he might be off his rocker too. He prescribed Voltaren for me. I was a little shocked, admittedly. Arthritis?!

I started taking the medication, and honestly, within two days I was pain free for the first time in three years. I could take the stairs one after the other again, instead of one at a time. I could bend over and stretch without aching and feeling unsteady. I was able to get on the floor with Petite and play a game without dragging myself to a chair to help get up again. The immediate difference was marked. Phenomenal. Impressive.

And scary too. To be honest, it's a little scary. I'm only 41. Ah, but it isn't degenerative arthritis, it's inflammatory, sort of like rheumatoid arthritis. It can be diagnosed at any age. It can be controlled, and it won't do severe damage as long as I keep things in check.

I have psoriatic arthritis. Not that I wanted it, but there it is. I know my aunt has it too. What's good about all of this is now I know what it is. Now I know I can control the pain. Now I can make sure I listen to my joints and pay attention when I sense those aches and pains creeping back in.

If we ever decide to go for another IVF, I will stop the medication prior to the protocol and take it from there, consulting with my RE and my rheumatologist throughout.

I saw the rheumatologist for the follow up and to report back on how I felt after the first course of medication. He was really pleased to hear what a difference it had made in my life. I had dozens of questions for him. All of which were answered and I feel good about the information that I have. It's a chronic issue. It will always be with me.

I like to think that I'm fighting back. "I have psoriatic arthritis. But it doesn't have me."

1 comment:

loribeth said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Gil (& sorrier that it took so long for you to get a definite diagnosis & relief). I am getting creakier in my joints lately, but I am sure it is mostly age-related. :p But if it gets worse, I'll ask my dr about arthritis -- I know there is some in my family too. Good luck in the fight!