It Started with a Rheuma….
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was in the prime of my life. At the time I was heavily into Jiu Jitsu. I was a year into the sport and I was training about 4 days a week at least. I was also doing kickboxing. Because of both these sports, my road to diagnosis was a long one, a year long to be exact. It was long because what I thought was a sport injury was actually one of my unexpected symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Looking back, it all started in my big toe. Yep, my big toe. Interesting place to start! Certainly the most unexpected symptom of rheumatoid arthritis that you can find but I thought maybe my toe was playing up because I was sprawling on it a lot. It didn’t concern me too much. What concerned me was my fingers. My fingers were swelling up and my hands in general just ached a little. I went to the physio and osteo. We had pretty much all agreed that I was getting a bit older, my body just wasn’t recovering as quickly as it used to. Nothing a bit of tape wouldn’t fix. We certainly didn’t think that what I was experiencing was in fact rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
The Ah Ha! Moment:
I was also travelling A LOT. When I travelled, I let my body rest. I’m not the kind of person who exercises while on holiday. When on holiday I eat, I eat, I eat but I do as much walking as I can. What led me finally to think that perhaps my symptoms were not martial sports related was when I was in Japan. During my first trip to Japan, I became an onsen addict. In my mind, the onsen was an elixir, it was sent from the Gods and could heal anything. But guess what? It didn’t fix my toe or my hands and fingers. In fact, when I got home, it got worse! What the?! THAT’S when I knew something was NQR. My osteo was the one to suggest a blood test to rule out arthritis.
Welcome to Rheumatoid Arthritis HELL:
When it was finally confirmed, the inflammation already had a year’s head start. It was almost overnight that the inflammation reared it’s ugly head. It was as if the Rheumatoid suddenly came to life and declared ‘Ha! Now that you know I exist, let me show you what I’m about!!!!!’ I felt like I was being possessed. I’m sure that if I was living in the dark ages, I would’ve insisted on an old priest and a young priest. Come immediately and cast this evil being out of me!!
Like I said, it was as if overnight I could no longer recognise my own body. At 38, I was healthy, active, confident, strong and fit. But once R.A hit, I could barely move. At night, I couldn’t sleep because my body just ached. I couldn’t roll over. Well, I could but it took a hell of a lot of effort so I just didn’t do it.
Wait… it gets worse
The mornings were hell. My hands were so stiff and sore to the point where I couldn’t even flick the light switch. My legs were the same and each morning I thought I was going to wet myself because I couldn’t get to the toilet fast enough. I also live in a two-storey house so it would take me a good 10 minutes just to walk down the stairs. My joints were locked up so tight that it took considerable effort so I had to take breaks while walking down 20 steps!
But you know what the worse thing was? The fatigue. It drains you. Your body becomes like a damaged battery, needing constant charging. I could go on but I think you get the picture. I started to hate life. Learn from me people! If you so much as think that you may have RA, go and seek medical advice NOW! Even unexpected symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis should be looked into, remembering this all started in my big toe! If you have an upcoming appointment with your rheumatologist, read here on how to prepare and get the most out of your visit.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication and Treatment – Part 1
Medication has been my saving grace. Medication and pole dancing (I will elaborate on the pole dancing in a later post) has helped me rebuild my body and my life. I’m about 60% to where I was pre-rheumatoid but I am hopeful and enthusiastic. As my rheumatologist keeps saying to me, ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just don’t know how long that tunnel is for you but there is light at the end.’ So I’m holding onto that. I am moving in the direction of the light. Slowly but surely. I’m hoping some of you out there who are also in the tunnel will reach out to me so we can walk through it together. I’d like some company.
There are a range of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. You can have one or all of what I just mentioned. You may even have had unexpected symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis yourself.
Comment below of your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and subscribe to my email list so you’re always up to date with the latest Rheumas.
If you have been diagnosed, you need to read about my tried treatments.