I've been living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for most of my life. It hurts, some days I can't button a shirt and my toes cramp up and freeze. That's why, a couple years ago, I chose to eliminate most dairy from my diet and work my ass off. I feel better. I feel great.
Today I went to my doctor for a "wellness screening" for insurance purposes. I was excited. I already knew my cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and resting heart rate were low and that's proof of a healthy lifestyle. I even laughed when the nurse measured my waist and rolled her eyes. The doctor was pleased with everything and told me he wished more people took care of themselves like we do.
He looked at my hands for a long time. My hands aren't pretty. They someday, will resemble my father's. He is 71 and has lived with RA for a long, long time. He is a marathoner, an avid fitness freak and nutritious person whom I admire. He won't take medication for his RA and uses diet and nutrition instead. We agree on the fact that too many people don't take actions for themselves and decide to lazily medicate for a condition that can be fixed with a lifestyle change.
I was reminded today that I am living with a disease. When you put "auto immune" in front of a disease, I personally, take it less seriously. My doctor noticed my pinky finger and the way my fingers don't fold in naturally, they protrude upward. I just thought that's how my hands were. My pinky finger sticks out far to the side. The reason why shocked me: my RA pain has been handled by diet and exercise, but the disease itself has had a party inside my body. My ulnar bones on both arms have deteriorated thus pulling my pinkies to the sides. He asked me many more questions that had obvious "oh duh!" answers to them.
I'm NOT seeking sympathy. I am to the point where I need medication to keep this stupid "disease" at bay so I don't have mangled hands by age 40. I will not slow down. I live an active life, I'm training for marathons, we eat great, we are happily raising a healthy and active son and dammit, I look great in a bikini. I am frustrated because I do all this and thought my RA was under control and it's not. My pain is managed by my lifestyle, but the damage this disease causes, isn't. My question is, to anyone out there, how can I do this without medication? I don't want IV treatments or a once a week pill to keep my hands functioning, I want to do it without that crutch! I've had goddamn cancer and will not go through harsh treatments again! I'm pissed because this isn't a preventable disease like so many out there. If I had diabetes, a heart condition, high blood pressure...I wouldn't ask for help because my lifestyle called for it. I just want my hands to work so I call pull up my zipper on my jacket at age 71 and go out for a run.