It has been a couple of weeks since my last rheumatologist appointment which was just enough time to scrutinize, dissect, and over think what happened. If I had written about it at the time, it would have been a huge bitch fest, but now I feel like I have a better perspective on the whole thing.
An important thing to mention first - I refill my pill organizer every Sunday evening to get ready for the next week. Apparently the Sunday before my appointment, I ran out of an anxiety medication. The problem is that I did not realize it until Thursday morning when I looked at the pills in my hand and thought there were not enough there. Over the course of the week I had been getting gradually more anxious and hyped up, like I was drinking more and more coffee. That Thursday I felt like I drank a whole case of red bull and it turns out that it was from the withdraw. Even though I realized the medication was missing the morning of my appointment and took a pill as soon as I went to the pharmacy, it would take a couple of days for my body to adjust.
Now the appointment - I was extremely prepared to see my rheumatologist and had a list of the most important symptoms/problems to speak to him about. My upper back/neck pain has been so bad lately and I honestly feel pretty much the same as I did when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis a year ago. I also have not had a decent nights sleep in forever. I felt like this was the appointment where I needed to get answers. Even though I have been doing really well with my anxiety lately, the withdraw and the importance I placed on the appointment added up to a really panic-inducing situation.
The physicians assistant usually makes me feel more comfortable, kind of like a mother, and is one of the reasons I decided to go to this rheumatologist. But after asking me if I was seeing a therapist about my anxiety (which she does every time), she proceeded to ask me if I ever considered Overeaters Anonymous for my weight. I know that my weight is a big issue which I am working on. But instead of addressing the issue with concern, it felt like I was being attacked.
Then Dr. Zen came in. I tried to explain how bad my upper back problems have been and that I was actually missing work because of it. Plus there was all of the cracking and grinding noises that my spine is always making when I move. He told me that my blood tests showed that the inflammation is going down and he wanted to double my dosage of sulfazine. I asked about my back again and he told me we would just have to wait until the inflammation was gone to see if it had to do with the RA or not. I asked what am I supposed to do for now and he said, "you have pain killers." But I try not to take them, were there any other options? Not right now. I asked about the fact that I have not had a good nights sleep in months and he said again that I would have to wait until the inflammation was gone.
I was so tired from the anxiety, the pain, not sleeping, and not getting answers. I was so tired of feeling like no one was listening to me that I pretty much lost it and began sobbing. And I do not mean watching a sad movie kind of sobbing. I mean making scary primal noises sobbing.
They handed me some Kleenex and waited for me to calm down, which I eventually did. Dr. Zen finally decided to refer me for an x-ray of my spine to see if there was any damage, etc, but I honestly think it was just to placate me.
After a long walk with the dogs and some time to think about things, I started to see the bigger picture and also the doctor's point of view. He cannot treat all my symptoms without knowing if they are due to the RA or not, which we will find out once the inflammation is gone. My most recent blood tests show that the newest medication is working and the inflammation is still high but it is the lowest it has been over the last year, which is really good news that I could not appreciate at the time.
But I am not sorry for the sobbing mess I became in that office because that is how I really felt about this whole situation - tired and hopeless. It was a little embarrassing, but I think they got the point.
As for how I feel now, I am more optimistic about the whole thing. My upper back is still causing me a lot of problems, especially with work but I had x-rays done on Thursday and will hopefully hear from the doctor this week. If they do not show anything, that means it is all muscular and if they do, we will take whatever the next step is. I am also trying to do as much as I can to make life more comfortable for myself. I joined Weight Watchers online and have already lost a few pounds (more on this later). I am still not sleeping well, so I am coming home at lunch and taking a nap if I need it. And although it has only been a couple of weeks, my joint pain seems to be getting better now that I am taking a larger dosage of sulfazine.