How I went from 50 and Fab, to 50 and Failing, in about 3 weeks

A person anticipates celebrating the anniversary of their mid-century milestone in many ways … but the operative word is usually “celebrate”.  I spent my 50th birthday on the sofa in flannel pajamas, eating chinese take out, and crying from the excruciating pain in my right shoulder and joints of the right hand.  Damn straight – I was feeling sorry for myself!  Here’s is how it started …
Oct 27 1962 – I was born, and was generally healthy and fit for the next 50 years … during this time I had a normal life, marriage, child (daughter currently in college), and enjoyed life as a professional musician.
Late Sept 2012 – I had been practising a little more that usual for a concert and noticed some pain in my right shoulder.  I thought it was the deltoid muscle, and figured after the concert on Sept 30th I would take a few days off and it would go away.  However In the following weeks the pain remained constant, and never actually got better.
Oct 12, 2012 – the shoulder pain was excruciating and was now in the joints of my right hand, which were also swollen.  The pain woke me up in the middle of the night and I was taking advil to take the edge off.  During the day it eased off just a bit.
Oct 16, 2012 – went to my regular doctor who took blood samples to test for Lyme, Lupus and a variety of other things.  I immediately started Lyme antibiotics since I’ve had ticks before.  I live in a rural area of NY State and Lyme is very common.
Oct 20, 2012 – the pain and swelling moved to my knees and feet, as well as my left elbow and left hand.  I could barely squeeze toothpaste on the brush, brush my hair, make it down the stairs in the morning, or make coffee and slice bread when I finally got down there.
Oct 21 2012 – husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary at one of our favorite restaurants – the chef himself serves us a dinner in a private room.  So romantic!
Oct 22 2012 – we cancell (or hopefully just postpone) the 50th birthday gift my husband planned for me which was a weekend in Rome.  Clearly walking around the Vatican was out of the question as I could barely make it around my own home.
Oct 23 2012 – back to the doctor.  She took me off of the Lyme meds since my symptoms actively got much worse during the week I was on them and sent me to a rheumatologist.
Oct 27 2012 – Soooo not a happy birthday!
Oct 29 2012 – Visit to the Rheumatologist – more blood tests, urine sample and hand x-rays.  Prescribed a low dose of Prednisone (10-15 mg) to alleviate swelling and pain.  Which thankfully did start to work within a day or two.
Nov 9 2012 – Returned to the Rheumatologist and received the diagnosis that I have the signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  [this is the part where the doctor’s voice started sounding like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon]  It’s a manageable condition and the doctor hopes I’ll be able to perform again soon.  I’m supposed to take 10mg Methotrexate a week, which is a chemotherapy drug, but don’t worry I’m going to take a very low dose.  Oh yeah, and no drinking while on the drugs … really?!?!

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4 thoughts on “How I went from 50 and Fab, to 50 and Failing, in about 3 weeks

  1. Laura

    Hi, I’m sorry to read about your 50th Birthday, we have something in common….it was my 50th Birthday present as well on April 16th. My new dr. gave me the info on some different meds and wants me to decide which one I want to go with. Such choices….half of them will cause my hair to fall out, and the other half….possibly cause cancer! Decisions, decisions! I will keep you in my prayers…..
    Blessings,
    Laura

    Reply
  2. R.A. Cellist Post author

    Hi Laura – Sorry that you have had to join our club! Do a LOT of reading, I know this is difficult and you probably don’t want to think about your new situation 24/7. Read the websites posted by the drug companies, read the RA Warrior site (see blue button link on this page), and whatever else you can find. Remember that not everything you read (especially on blogs) is not scientific fact. I hope your doctor is an excellent Rheumatologist who has lots of experience with R.A., and who is a great listener! Don’t be afraid to take the meds! I’ve been on both Methotrexate and Humira for months now and am actually having a life. It’s a different life than it was before, but I am active and don’t feel like I am sick all the time. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Thank you for your response. So far, my rheumatologist seems great (just met him Friday). ! I just have to listen to him “carefully”, as he has an accent that sounds sort of like Rashash from Big Bang Theory ; ). He seemed like a good listener, and wasn’t in a big hurry!
      I have definitely been doing a lot of reading, and I have to admit….I am kind of afraid of the meds! Did the ones you have been taking make all of your hair fall out?
      I’m glad that they are helping you, and that you don’t feel sick all the time….that’s the important thing. I guess I am being a little vain worrying about my hair, it’s just one of those things that are like a security blanket. I’ve always gotten compliments on my hair….it’s long, and I have a lot of it, and I can’t imagine it being “gone”. Knowing some of the meds “don’t” do that, makes me lean toward them. I’ve been praying about it….and I’m sure He will lead me in the right direction. What are your thoughts on the meds?? I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts! Thank you!! : )

      Reply
  3. R.A. Cellist Post author

    Our vanity! Yes, we all have it. I have been on the Metho since November and still have hair! Though I admit it seems less “thick” than it was, and I also keep it shorter. However my personal decision was based on wanting to keep performing on my instrument – if my joints aren’t working then I have to end my career as a professional musician. If I didn’t take the meds then I would have deterioration of the joints, and eventually joint replacement. My onset of RA was severe, leaving me crippled with pain in about 3 weeks. I can’t imagine what shape I would be in now if I didn’t start an aggressive course of meds as soon as possible!

    Here is my update on Metho from January, and now I am so used to it that I barely realize at all that I took it. Just a little sleepy the next day, and no stomach problems at all!
    https://racellist.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/methotrexate-update/

    Also – you might read the RA Warrior site about Metho – there are many posts and responses.
    http://rawarrior.com/methotrexate-and-rheumatoid-arthritis/
    Some people do not feel well on this drug, but the majority do just fine. Remember that people typically post when they feel bad – so don’t let some negative posts worry you. If you are feeling good then you are probably not going to post because you are too busy getting on with your life to sit around on your computer!

    Reply

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