My Journey to Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

My diagnosis of RA happened in 2012, the year I turned 40.

My 40 year old birthday was fabulous – a great run with my running pals, complete with doing the 4T:  14 mile run (inclusive of Trail, Tram, Trolly, Train), eagle sighting on the trail part. It was a nice mix of hills and flats, and fun conversation. My running friends got me a snazzy Nike shirt and beautiful flowers, and we mingled for coffee afterwards. Amazing way to start 40.

40th Birthday post run

But my body had other plans.

I began to feel aches and pains and fatigue shortly afterwards. In the mornings, I could barely walk when I got out of bed. I would collapse in the evening from fatigue. My husband would help rationalize it to me “well, you run all the time, and work so many hours… of course you are sore and tired.” And I would agree.

Until odd little things began to happen.

I sprained my left thumb, but don’t remember actually doing anything to it. It just really hurt, and I couldn’t write with my hand. I did some taping and made a splint, took some NSAIDS (advil) and it slowly got better over a few weeks. Then the right side did the same thing. Hmmmm. At the same time, my feet began to bother me. I had just gotten a new pair of running shoes, and thought the padding was defective. I exchanged them for a different pair, but, same thing. So I exchanged them for a different brand. Nope, not the shoes…

I ran the Newport Marathon in June. My feet were killing me, but I ran a PR despite this. I remember the next day staggering down the stairs and thinking, “Hmmm. My joints are killing me, not really my muscles. That’s odd.” In the race packet was some Naproxen. I took a full dose, and it was remarkable. Pain nearly resolved. How odd.  Wouldn’t suspect that with muscle soreness.

PR Newport Marathon, just prior to diagnosis

Over the next few weeks, my knees really started to bother me. I had an appointment with my Primary Care Provider for a regular physical, and brought it up. I think she was a bit skeptical, but I pressed her to test for RA. She acquiesced, and sure enough, 2 weeks later – positive tests, and referral to Rheumatologist.

By the time the bloodwork came back, however, I could barely walk, both my knees had really flared up and the Left knee was super swollen. I could not do stairs, my hands were not functioning very well. Thankfully, I was able to get into the Rheumatologist within 3 days after the referral, and got started on some DMARDS (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug – Methotrexate) and a cortisone injection for the knee. Both of these things did wonders for my symptoms. At the time, I was training for the Portland Marathon (This was end of August, and the Marathon was early October.)  I went from hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon  to simply wanting to finish. I suspected it would be my last marathon, and I would likely need to walk much of it. Which was exactly what happened. But I had my lovely running friends to “run me in” for the final 6 miles, which helped me get thru it.

End of my running days

Over the coming months (years) I would continue to mourn the loss of running. It simply was no longer feasible for me. I have since replaced it with walking/hiking/spin bike. But I will always fondly remember the decades that I was a marathoner.

In good times, happiness, and health,
Jen

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