As long as we’re being honest….

I’m doing my best to deal with the recent news. I don’t feel particularly sick right now and my strength and endurance are both pretty good.  Still, I’m aware that my body is waging war on itself and am a bit unsettled.  I have multiple swollen joints and nodules on my knuckles.  If not for those we probably wouldn’t have gotten the diagnosis for a long time.  I’m grateful for this but scared because everything I’ve read indicates that nodules are associated with a more aggressive disease mechanism. 

I’m not just going to take it lying down. I’m improving my diet, working out and staying active. I plan to ask my Rheumatologist what supplements I should be taking.  I’m not wallowing in self-pity or seething with a bunch of ‘Poor me! Why me?’ bullshit. Still, I have to admit that I’m a bit scared. This is one of those illnesses where the treatment can be as rough as the disease itself.

Again,  I don’t feel sick right now  and I’m not going to start soley based on a diagnosis. The prednisone has been giving me some relief and I’m not hurting too badly right now. I just figured this would be a better place than Facebook to get some things off my chest. 

Here’s what really frightens me: I was on SSDI for bipolar disorder for almost five years.  When my case was flagged for termination I appealed and took it up the chain of command. At the time I was severely depressed and struggling with mood issues. After over a year of appealing my medication was changed from lithium to Risperdal. The improvement was astonishing.  I began working and dropped the appeal. Then I got stuck with the bill for my benefits while on appeal (11790$ or so). I’m paying it back at the rate of fifty dollars a month.  My big fear is that Rheumatoid Arthritis will cripple me and I won’t be able to get any help. This is a thought that has been keeping me up at night with apprehension. Essentially I’m being punished for getting better.

My boyfriend is trying to get into law school.  Specifically to be a Disability Attorney.  I’m hanging on to the dream that he’ll be able to help me with this before something bad and RA related happens. The odds are not in my favor. According to Johns Hopkins website sixty percent of people with RA become disabled within ten years of being diagnosed. 

I am trying not to give in to fear and go about my life.  It’s entirely possible I’ll have great treatment results and go into extended remission.  I just don’t know and the future is intimidating the living hell out of me.

I was hospitalized frequently as a kid. I know the drill. I have to fight and keep fighting hard. This is what I keep telling myself when I want to cry, which has been quite a bit lately. I’m not going to use or drink over it and I’m not just gonna sit around and be sick. To hell with that.

I am in desperate need of some inspiration.  Pray for Thom please.

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Rheumatologically Speaking

So yeah, my appointment with the Rheumatologist finally came. I’ve been eagerly awaiting getting to the bottom of the situation with my hands. I spent the first twenty minutes at the Diagnostic Clinic filling out intake paperwork,  then I went upstairs to meet my new Doctor.  He asked me about the problems I’ve been experiencing,  took a detailed history and upon examining my hands and other joints had two words to say : Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I’m not gonna lie,  I’m a bit shook up. I’m glad to have caught it relatively early on, but it’s still a bit scary. I’ve seen what advanced RA does to joints and it’s horrifying to say the least.  The first line meds to treat it are essentially immune suppressants.  It’s much more than arthritis,  it’s an autoimmune disorder that manifests itself in a plethora of ways including arthritis.  What it means is that my immune system is attacking my joints.

I brought lab results and xrays and these proved to be the clincher for the diagnosis.  He looked at my xrays with me and said ‘See these shadows near the joints? That’s decalcification.’ I don’t have a ton of bone erosion yet but ANY is frightening enough.

The Rheumatologist is pretty cool.  Nice laid back Black Man of about forty or so. He told me, ‘I can’t cure this for you, but it can be managed and long periods of remission are possible.’. He gave me paperwork for a bunch of lab tests and said ‘For the next few months you and I are going to be BFFs.’. We shook hands and he sent me on my way.

As I said, I’m a little funny feeling right now.  It’s starting to sink in.  But I’m not going to use over it or let it screw up my program.  I’ve worked too damn hard to turn tail and run.

I’m a little scared but I refuse to let it conquer me. Time to activate the Celtic Fire in the blood. I’m coming up with strategies for taking it easy on myself and am not going to bus tables more than two days a week.  Non-consecutively. I have to make money but I’m not going to kill myself to live. Hosting is relatively easy money and I’m fortunate to have added it to my restaurant skills.

Aside from that news, life is about the same. Upped my Wellbutrin due to some creeping depression and feeling far better for it. In love with my Boyfriend and life. That’ll do.

So I have a connective tissue disease, BFD.
Time to let Mr. Berserker out of the bag,  methinks.

Until we meet again,
Thom
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Creeping gratitude

I just recently passed the one month clean mark and I must say that things are looking up.  Granted,  life is no less capricious than previously.  I’m still dealing with physical and mental health issues as well as trying to get my life in order.  It IS happening though.  Which is something I was never able to do when I was drinking and drugging.

First, I’ll delve into  the health issues a bit. My arthritis and tendonitis are still raging and my hypertension has come back with a vengeance. I had to discontinue my ADHD medication due to my pressure being dangerously high. I’m on meds and have leveled out, but I am no longer able to work as a busser and barback. The fatigue from the meds plus the pain in my hands and forearms was simply too intense to push through. I was getting vicious headaches and feeling like I was going to puke or pass out working in the heat. One day when my amazing boss came in and I felt like death I leveled with her and said ‘What do you think I should do?’. She was really cool about the whole thing and moved me to hosting. It’s less money but I’m so grateful to still have a job. 

The bright spot to all this is that I soldiered through it long enough to claw my way out of the financial hole I was in while I was using. My Doctor has been advising me to find a less labor intensive job for over a year so I’m sure he’ll be thrilled when I tell him about all this in two weeks.  However,  there’s more to the health issues than I’ve so far mentioned.

The pain in my hands has been getting worse and more frequent.  I’ve been screened many times,  but due to new developments  (morning stiffness,  nodules on knuckles on both hands) he ordered more blood work,  xrays and a referral to a Rheumatologist once again. I’m seeing both doctors on the 24th.  I’m not jumping to conclusions but I am a bit worried. I don’t know,  we’ll see.  As vague as that is it’s the best I’ve got right now. 

All these issues aside, I am enjoying life more than I ever thought was possible.  I’ve made some new friends in NA and have a great sponsor who’s really easy to talk to. I’ve begun working the steps and am finding it challenging but illuminating. I’m going to NA meetings every day and putting myself in the middle of it all. When I find myself alone and irritable I pick up the phone or read recovery literature. I’m building a support network and dealing with life on it’s own terms as well as I can. 

I’m trying to remind myself daily of how much love I have in my life and everything I’m grateful for.  Like Death Metal, my Boyfriend, our animals,  my family, my friends and most of all, the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.  Sometimes I can hardly believe any of this is real. This is not to say that I don’t have bad days or still think about getting drunk and high. I’m just getting better at managing my feelings in a constructive manner. I have a home group and am beginning to get involved in service.  It’s really awesome.  Next month they have me chairing a meeting.  How’d that happen? 🙂

I already had a decent relationship with a higher power but The fellowship has simply galvanized it. I feel it working in my life daily. Am I insane? Quite.  Doesn’t make me wrong. I have my life back and am not about to give it up.

Thank you, NA. Thank you for slowly but surely restoring me to something approaching real sanity.

-Thom

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The Reconstruction of Thom

I’m plugging away with getting my life in order.  Caught up on bills. Credit card nearly fully paid off. This Tuesday will make thirty days clean, which is something I didn’t believe that I could do for the longest time.  Aside from that I’m just doing my thing, sewing some new stuff to my vest later today and doing some NA literature reading daily.

My program is working fairly well,  though I’m still new to this constructively dealing with my problems thing. My emotional state has been highly variable as well as my health.  The arthritis in my hands as well as my tendonitis have both been getting more severe and getting through a day of work is getting steadily more taxing.  Due to hypertension coming back I’ve had to give up my ADHD medication. It’s whatever.  I’m choosing to look at it as one less thing to have to cough up money for. I could stay the course but my blood pressure meds would be totally pointless and I don’t want to have a fucking heart attack so I just decided to let it go and deal with the fog as well as I can.

Back to the issue of my hands, I have to go to a Rheumatologist soon.  My pain is getting worse and I’ve developed nodules on the knuckles of both hands.  I’m so stiff in the mornings some days that I can barely pour a cup of coffee.  Whatever happens I’ll deal with.  My Doctor seems to think it may be something more serious than simple osteoarthritis hence visiting the specialist soon.

Aside from that,  I’ve been my usual beaten down but determined self. I am salvaging the wreckage of my life, making new friends and doing the best I can.

Not much else I can do, methinks.