Breaking down at 50

Turning 50 has not been a lot of fun, and I am sure someone told me it would be. I have blogged earlier about some problems I was having problems with my hands and my thumbs.  I had self-diagnosed arthritis just because it seemed to make sense. Earlier today I wrote an email to some friends of mine covering my medical journey since December or so.  Here is what I wrote:

This maybe my last email ever….

Well probably not, but damn I am on an unlucky streak!

So let me catch you up to date on “Susan’s Health Adventure”

As most of you know I have been having trouble with my hands since early December
if not earlier than that. At that time my Dr put me on an anti-inflammatory and told me
to give it 3 weeks to work… and not take any aleve while on it. It was the most painful
three weeks ever, and I actually cheated on Christmas day and took aleve because
who wants to be useless and in pain on Christmas! If I can’t unwrap presents and
fill a plate at a buffet, what good am I to this world??

So when that med didn’t work, I went back and told him that at this point I could deal
with the swollen fingers, I just needed something for the thumb pain. He put me in a
thumb splint and I was told to wear it for 2 weeks, all day except showering or swimming.
When I told me boss about it, her response was “Are you telling me that I am to pay you to sit in your office and do nothing for two weeks?” That was after I explained to her that I understood I would have to take it off to so some of my work. Sigh. I gave up on the splint quickly.

And then Pneumonia came knocking at the door. My brother thought I was having a heart
attack the day he took me to the walk-in clinic as I was in so much pain. It actually took
three doctors visits before I got the pneumonia diagnosis.  At one point I was sent for a ultrasound to see if I had a gallbladder issue, and that turned out negative but it showed possible the start of fatty liver. Bloodwork the next showed negative for that. That was also the day I couldn’t breath, which led me to the Walk in clinic the next day, and an EKG, Xray of the lung and possible cat scan. Cat scan was canceled as X-ray showed left lung pneumonia.  So all in all by the time I was officially cleared of the pneumonia I had probably had it for 5 weeks

The day I went in for my final x-ray I also decided to go back to dealing with my hands. Things
had gotten worse. My wrists were weak and I often had to use two hands to do anything, including
turn a door knob, brush my teeth, etc. And then I was starting to have pain in my right knee. Getting
up from a seated position was painful. I was having trouble sleeping at night because pain in my hands and arms would wake me up so much, And I was getting very depressed. I would start crying all the time. At the grocery store, at home. It took me forever to get dressed in the morning that I would finally get to my car to leave for work and just cry as I drove to work.

So that visit to the Dr, was, of course, the first good hand day I had in weeks! I think only one or two fingers were swollen, my thumbs didn’t hurt. That’s how it always goes. He sent me for blood work to see if I had any markers for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The bloodwork came back positive for inflammatory markers  so he referred me to an Arthritis specialist. They had no openings until May (!!) but while the drs nurse was on the phone with them someone canceled for the next day (YAY!!)

Btw this is what my hands look like now on a good day (though this is a picture of someone with Juvenile Rheumatoid):

This is my fear of what my hands will look like soon if Rheumatoid:

(I already have some small knobs on my first-from the nail- knuckle of my left index finger)

So a week ago last Wednesday I went to see him . I had never spent so much time in an exam room with a Dr in my life! My appointment was at 3 and I walked out at 4:30 and very little of that was waiting time. He took my full history. He was able to pull up x-rays that my Dr took of my hands in December.  Finally after everything he felt that I didn’t have Rheumatoid but a rare type of Osteoarthritis that comes on really fast. He wanted to do some more bloodwork that was more detailed than what my dr did to look for actual Rheumatoid markers but felt that he was right. They took 5 viles of my blood!

He put me on two meds. One Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malaria med okayed by the FDA for
using in Rheumatoid. Its the one the have the best results with. He said they use also for Osteo
but it isn’t FDA approved for osteo, only because it is now a generic and no company
wants to spend the money to get it approved. The downside: It takes 3-6 months before you
can start to see improvement!!!!! MONTHS!!! Also one of the side effects is that you lose
your peripheral vision and your color vision. So I have to see an ophthalmologist every
year as they have special equipment that can detect that and see the signs early enough to
stop it.
I am also on Naproxen 500mg. He decided that since aleve did well for me he would just
give me a prescription for it so that would save me money, and it would work to bridge the
time before the other meds starts to work.

So I felt a lot better to have a diagnosis and a plan. The 3-6 month thing isn’t the best
but the naproxen seems to be helping and I noticed this last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
that my hand and knee pain seemed much better, and I have had little swelling in my fingers.

On Monday I met with my trainer and we did a pool workout. One of the things she had me do
was this kick back that works the hamstrings. As I did one I thought “hmm that doesn’t feel right”
but kept on. I went back Tuesday and repeated the workout and when I did the kickbacks I felt
it again. A little worse. I assumed my sciatic nerve was acting up so I tried to do some stretching
exercises, etc to help it out. Wednesday, at work, I couldn’t find a position to put my right leg that didn’t
start hurting after a while. And getting out of my chair was really painful. I decided not to go back to
the pool that night and went home. I got no sleep at all. My whole leg from mid thigh to mid
calf was so painful. At work on Thursday it hurt to stay in my seat. Getting up was painful but
walking made it better. I walked a lot of laps around my little office.

Friday morning was a repeat. I get off at noon on Fridays so I called my Dr and made an appointment.
Apparently I screwed up a muscle and he called in a script for Prednisone (anyone watch Smash??)
I also told him that I felt he must be sick of seeing me by now, as I think I have been in his office more
times since the beginning of the year than probably the past 5 years combined. He said things go like
that sometimes. You’ll go forever without needed to come in and then sometimes its one thing after

I started the prednisone today. 6 pills today, 5 tomorrow, 4 monday, etc… He said it will make
me really energized (will my apartment finally get cleaned?) and so I am to take a muscle relaxer
at night to help reverse that as well as any leg pain. I took 3 pills at 8am and the other 3 at noon.

I don’t know how it works or how long it works ,but I was able to sit down and write this whole thing
and not be in pain! The big question is how long was it take before the rage sets in and I start
yelling at Malcolm for looking at me wrong?

Anyway, with the luck I am having, I assume I will go stand out on my balcony and it will collapse,
or if I go to the grocery store, it will blow up or something so just in case, I thought I should
write my last email ever!

However I doubt any of that will happen and you will be stuck with me! Sorry!

So there you go. I turned 50 and am coming apart at the seams.