Story time, some info I’ve learned, and a glimpsed into the annoying gray blob that is my brain
It was the start of June 2020. The summer’s refreshing, radiating warmth had already started to govern how my days went, prompting me to spend more time reading on the porch stoop, getting that Vitamin D from the glorious sunshine, swimming in my parents’ pool, and going on walks through my neighborhood while I facetimed my cousin (7 states away) while she walked around her neighborhood.
Things were good. Sort of. Well, I mean…some things were good.
By then, everyone knew that the year was going to be a shitshow in its entirety, and we all knew that we were barely halfway through the damn thing, but I personally found it hard to not enjoy the longer days and sunny skies. Not to mention my newly-acquired sanity.
Yeah, so I’d been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility in February (literally right before the pandemic swept across the entire planet). I was finally put on lithium (and a cocktail of other brightly colors pills) and thus the bipolar disorder that had ravaged my life since I was like fourteen years old was finally able to get under control.
It was huge. I mean, there are no words big enough to capture that tremendousness of NOT LOSING YOUR MIND four times a year for fourteen years in a row.
In my opinion, I was (and am) appropriately grateful. And as I typed those words just now, I’m realizing the flaws in my logic —the ones that are telling me if only I’d been more grateful for that one particular good thing in my life, I wouldn’t have been fucked with another bad thing. Now, there’s a lot to unpack there, but for some context, I have a gratitude journal app, and I journal about good things constantly, I’ve even posted lengthy lists of things I’m grateful for on this blog. [I am literally still rationalizing this, my god, I am so messed up in the head lol]
Anyway, my point is that around my birthday mid-June, it became clear to me that something was wrong with my body. I couldn’t move normally. It was exhausting to cross my legs and bend down. It was weird, and it came out of nowhere.
I also finally cut the eating disordered bullshit (for the billionth time) on my birthday by enjoying a wonderfully delicious piece of chocolate cake.
That all being said, moving was even more difficult in July and utterly terribly painful by August.
I found a doctor with difficulty (due to the pandemic, my shitty insurance, my reluctance to talk to people on the phone, and other reasons you’ll discover if you keep reading my nonsense here). And the long and arduous process of figuring out what in the hell was wrong with me began.
Lots of bloodwork. Lots of tests. Scans. Then finally I went to a rhematologist (more bloodwork more tests). And by NOVEMBER (ugh) I was told I have rheuamtoid arthritis.
It’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning my immune system sees healthy cells and is just like “WOW oh BOY let’s just fuck that shit up for no reason and ruin Laura’s joints, cause inflammation and swelling, and just overall ruin normal things like hooking her own bra and getting out of bed.”
Sarcasm aside, there’s actually so much for me to learn about that process and what chaos is going on in my body. Like, I know when they initially figured out that I have RA, they tested for Rheumatoid Factor (proteins produced by the immune system). I got the bloodwork and read through it before I talked to the doctor, but it said <100 RF for me (which is no good, no good at all lol) and that explains why I was sore, stiff, exhausted, achy, all of the above. RF attack healthy cells as opposed to viruses or bacteria.
RA is a progressive disease, and you can’t cure it. So I basically have to stay on top of dealing with it in order to make sure my joints don’t get damaged, ’cause once they do, there’s no reversing it.
It’s not like osteoarthritis that’s gradual after the mechanical wear and tear on the cushions in your joints. Apparently RA attacks the lining in the joints, not cartilage. Osteoarthritis is more common, too.
Another fun fact is that rhematoid arthritis affects my skin. I have a scabs on my knuckles and knees that I don’t foresee going away. The doctor said she can give me a steroid cream for it, but tbh why bother?
—Okay it’s time now to explain that after prompting from my therapist, and my staring at her confused, I realized that I’m slow to seek out help for my ailments because I’m terrified that there’s simply no help available and no solutions to be found…and worse, as she correctly guessed, I’m afraid I don’t deserve help.
Because like, I definitely did fuck my body by not eating. I lose a lot of weight super quick and in retrospect, after learning that RA can be triggered by your body going through traumatic shit (surgery, labor, satrving yourself into oblivion for a few months)…it’s obviously my fault.
To play devil’s advocate with myself, I was all anorexic-y because I was disgustingly depressed, and that was becauase my bipolar wasn’t properly controlled, which again, technically wasn’t my fault.
But either way, I have lots of work to do in terms of processing THAT mess of thoughts. hkjhggffdyds help
Anyway. I’m taking a drug called hydroxychloroquine (which is SUCH a bitch to say lol). It’s a DMARD, and yes, you are correct, that does stand for “disease modifying antirheumatic drug.” They don’t really know why it works on inflammation, but they think it might interfere with communication of cells in the immune system. I’ve been on that for about three months. Which, I’m told, is about how long it takes to start working.
And it was working.
And then I washed my kitchen floor and I’ve been limping around since then. Like????? No????? I should be able to move like a normal human???
I did my research (I did not think to look shit up of my own accord, guess who urged me to do so). There ae other drugs that might work. A chemo drug that’s given to RA patients at a tiny dose, or this type of drug call a biologic, or something? They’re like genetically modified drugs or something. [I’m not an expert obv, I’m just googling and making sense in my own head and smashing my keyboard to get all the info here, so, FYI]
I called my doctor and was told to take Motrin for now, and (shocking) that is helping.
But that’s enough word vomit for today, thanks for looking at my wordssssss ❤