Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My battle with Arthritis

Since I was 16 years old, I've had back and hip problems. My hands also hurt all the time. I didn't think too much of it for a long time. I thought that it was just something I had to live with. It got a little worse every year until I almost couldn't walk in the summer of 2007. Gavin was a little over a year old and some days it was almost impossible to even get out of bed, let alone chase a toddler. It was so bad at times I would sit and cry because nothing helped. It broke my heart that I couldn't play with my little boy. Most days the only thing I could do is sit in a chair and look at him.

I finally said 'I can't live like this anymore'. I started going to a clinic close by my house because my regular doctor was an hour drive away. Big mistake in switching doctors! This particular doctor gave me a good look-over, ran a bunch of tests and sent me off for x-rays. She did the fibromyalgia test and said I had some of the signs of fibromyalgia but not enough to cause all my pain. So she sent me home with sleeping pills, pain patches, 500mg ibuprofen (which made me throw up) and fibromyalgia medication on the off-chance it would work. I went to get the x-rays done and dropped them off at her office. She didn't even look at the x-rays until right before she saw me like 2 weeks later. I know this because I called the office everyday and was told she had not had time to look at them yet. When I came back and she looked at them she said she couldn't see anything wrong with me. She said all the blood tests came back negative for rheumatoid arthritis so she wanted to send me to a rheumatologist to "double-check" but she was pretty sure they wouldn't find anything either. That when I came back we would talk about the psychological reasons I was in other words "you're crazy and making this up".

I couldn't get an appointment for 4 weeks at the rheumatologists office. About 2 weeks before the appointment I found out I was pregnant with my second child. Me and my husband had started to try for a second baby when Gavin turned 1. Since it took us 3 years to get pregnant with Gavin we thought it would take a while to have another one (but that's another post!). I had actually considered cancelling the rheumatologists appointment since they couldn't do anymore x-rays and I couldn't take any medication being pregnant, but I decided to just go and see what they could do. When I got there I met Dr. Gowin, the nicest, best doctor I had ever been to. As soon as she looked at the x-rays I had to carry around for 2 months, she said "I can't believe they wrote this off as a normal x-ray, this isn't anywhere near normal!", so I said 'so you mean I'm not crazy?' and she said "no honey you're not crazy". She said I have bone spurs up my spine and something called a straightened spine. I'm not sure what that is but she said it causes muscle spasms. She still didn't see any arthritis so she starts mashing on me saying certain places are a little warm or swollen. That's how good she is... I didn't even hurt in those places! Then she started looking at my fingernails and she said I have "nail pits". They are little pinhole size dents in my fingernails. Some people have a few but I had more than normal. She said that's consistent with something called Psoriatic Arthritis. She asked if I had psoriasis and I said I don't think so. I had dandruff for years and sometimes regular dandruff shampoo didn't work. It didn't flake like regular dandruff but it really itched. Turns out I DO have psoriasis and just didn't know it! Man she is awesome! Anyway, she diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis by the nail pits and by where I hurt. Needless to say I never went back to the other doctor! Where I kept thinking my hips were hurting it was actually more toward my butt! It was really funny when she was trying to explain this. She was having to touch my butt and said is it more back here? And I would say yeah it actually is! She said it's hard to diagnose Psoriatic Arthritis because it mimics Rheumatoid Arthritis but it doesn't show up on any x-rays or blood test.

She said I couldn't take anything being pregnant (nice to know since the other Dr. had me drugged out on all kinds of stuff) but that the hormones my body would give off would put it into remission. It did and I didn't really have much problem with it the rest of my pregnancy. She monitored me closely but everything was great. She thought I would have a major flare up after I gave birth but it really never came. I guess because I was breastfeeding. I still couldn't take medication while breastfeeding. She tried one kind that wasn't supposed to harm the baby but it make him thow it up so I quit taking it. I had to stop breastfeeding at 6 months though because the pain was starting to come back and he was so big that to hold him really hurt. The arthritis had spread into my left shoulder, neck, elbow and knee.

I started on a 4 pill a day regiment and it worked for awhile but the pain came back again so she added a pain pill to replace all the Aleive and Tylenol I was taking. It worked until April of this year and then she had to double the pain pill. So right now I'm on 6 pills a day and the pain is tolerable but still there. The psoriasis is a little worse but still mild. I sometimes get it in my ears and on my eyebrows. It's not noticeable to anyone else but it's itchy. When it flares up on my scalp, my hair falls out. I don't see why I'm not bald yet! It seems to grow back quickly though so nobody else knows how bad it falls out. Plus I usually keep it pinned up so it doesn't look too thin. The arthritis and the psoriasis aren't actually the major problem. The hardest part is the extreme fatigue. I talked to the doctor about it but she said there is no way to medicate that. I am always extremely tired and it doesn't help that Gage still doesn't sleep through the night. He's done it twice and the first time Gavin was up all night! I tell everyone I'm a chronic yawner! I constantly yawn and it's really bad in church. I swear people must think I'm such a bad person. It's not that it's boring it's just that I'm sitting still! The fatigue is really hard when I want to work out or play with the boys. Sometimes I just want to sleep all day which of course I can't with 2 energetic little guys on my hands. I am trying to find different things that can naturally give me an energy boost. If anyone reading this has any ideas please let me know. I'm willing to try ALMOST anything. Maybe different kinds of food, a diet change, whatever it takes. I'm doing this Body after Baby thing so now's the best time to try to do something about it. You can leave a comment on this post, find me on twitter, or email me at I'm so tired of being tired! Help me please!


Sonya said...

I bet a diet change will do you good. I don't know what you eat right now but lots of fruits and veggies would be good. I might do a google search for you and see what I can find.