Sunday, April 25, 2010

Self Diagnosis

Last night The Lovely Daughter and I were curled up in bed reading and talking and somehow, don't ask me how, we got onto the subject of my various aches and pains. Probably because I tried to do something like move.

"Mom," she asked, "do you ever mention to your doctor how many parts of you hurt?"

"No," I said.

"You LIE to the doctor?" she demanded.

"Not exactly," I said. "It doesn't really come up."

"How can it not come up?"

"How would it? She asks whether I am healthy (other than the strep/sinus/whatever infection I'm there for), and I say that I weigh too much but my BP is fine and I walk three miles most days and I'm fine."

"Mom. Think about it. Your knees, your hips, your back, your shoulders, your elbows."

"Well, I am a little concerned about this recent problem where my shoulders and upper arms hurt when I raise my hands high to stretch. I can't understand why that is happening."

"Mom! And what about that last sickness, the one where you mostly slept for five weeks?"

"I did a lot of other things besides sleep."

"You didn't do a single thing you didn't absolutely have to do."

We started looking around online. My symptoms sound ominously like RA. Especially the symmetrical part. And my back.

Now I remember. This conversation got started because I said that I am beginning to feel like my spine is frozen in place.

Who knew you could get arthritis in your spine? Not me.

We read some more. It is all extremely disturbing. This thing does not stop with a few achy joints. This is lifelong, degenerative, all-encompassing. It involves problematic meds. It involves health insurability problems. (Maybe not anymore.) I read all of Songbird's entries. I think about my grandmother's gnarled fingers and complaints about back and joint pain. I realize that I have, very, very, very gradually gotten used to compensating for almost constant pain.

I am not a hypochondriac. Far from it. People tell me all the time about symptoms which have propelled them into a doctor's office and I think, "Really? Is that something I should be paying attention to?"

I sure hope we are completely off base about this.


  1. Robin...I hope you are off base as well.

    **oops..well...not in that way...but in the wonderings about your joint pain**

  2. Dear heaven, I hope you are way off base. But perhaps you should investigate it?

  3. Hi Robin, you should really have it checked out. Generally one of the worst parts of RA is pain and swelling in the hands and feet and you did not mention either. The back involvement is not real typical either. As you know, I have RA but thanks to modern drugs am currently in remission with no symptoms at all. The current availability of biologic drugs has greatly changed the outcome of this disease. If RA is what you have then starting appropriate treatment can make a tremendous difference. Stacy W (using anonymous as I have other profile available)

  4. I join you in your hope...but I think you need to print this posting, your symptoms and your questions, and take all of it to your doctor as soon as possible. Online resources are helpful, but CAN be confusing & misleading without a medical education. (I know this from experience of researching Katie's illness.) Please do see your doctor for tests, and don't try to diagnose yourself; that's your doctor's job. You are busy enough without that new assignment! =)

  5. Yes. See your doctor. And it's also possible that it's stress. Or age. Or both. I get achy often. I have found that more exercise besides walking has really helped. BUT you need to make sure you are healthy enough for more exercise, should you wish to get it. I'm talking about yoga or swimming or a fitness class....I too, hope that is not RA...

  6. I concur with the others who have told you to get yourself to the doctor. The internet is a wonderful tool. And can be a doctor's biggest enemy. Hoping it's nothing more than stress but...

  7. Robin - I teach classes for the Arthritis Foundation and have received training on most forms of arthritis and controlling it. Please talk to a rheumatologist but please also avoid self-diagnosis. They run a variety of blood tests to diagnose in addition to listening to symptoms.

    I would suggest that in addition to your walking that you add some gentle stretching. You can contact the Arthritis Foundation in your area to check if they have water classes or land classes that would be appropriate - these are more like gentle yoga, your walks would still be the primary aerobic portion of your exercise.

    Let's face it - when you get to be our age, everybody has a bit of some form arthritis even if it's just wear and tear related. This organization has made a huge difference in my life. Feel free to e-mail me off blog if you wish. I could go on and on.

  8. Robin - my prayers and wishes for you that this is not RA. I am a big self-diagnosing person and I understand the need to do that. In this case,I will echo others and gently say that a doctor would be best.

    I was getting very achy, for what it is worth and did NOT go to the doctor for it. In any event, I was being treated for vitamin deficiency - in particular vitamin D. However, I began to take a whole regimen of vitamins and my own achiness has greatly subsided. Not sure if this will be helpful to you.

    Peace and prayers. And thanks for commenting at my blog - it is a gift to meet you and see what you have here.

  9. boy, the fun just keeps on coming! praying for your visit to the doc--a good, accurate diagnosis and hopefully ruling out RA or anything else. gentle hugs (so it doesn't hurt...)

  10. I agree that diagnosing yourself is not a good idea. But getting a diagnosis, IS. :) I have a good bit of RA in my family and so I tend to be hypersensitive to the idea...get it checked out early and often!

    Hugs (gently).

  11. Robin, do some research on fibromyalgia. do this even before you see a doctor. there are still doctors who dismiss fibromyalgia as female hysteria. it was a physical therapist after shoulder surgery twenty years ago who diagnosed my fibromyalgia - though I'd had the aches and agonies for quite some time before that. A good rheumatologist, however, should take you seriously and check for fibromyalgia right away. The immense stress you've been under for years now is definitely a factor here.

  12. Robin, I thought I had left a comment yesterday. I do hope you will see your primary care doctor soon about these symptoms. In my case the pain presented as extremely severe (like having knives shoved into the joints) with stiffness in my knees that made standing up from a seated position difficult-to-impossible, and with obvious swelling of wrists, fingers, ankles and toes. There's more to it than symmetrical pain, but I do hope you will find someone to evaluate your health soon.

  13. This is a road I have walked every day for six years with my husband. There are many, many differences now from the time your grandmother walked the road.

    You have a lovely daughter. She is wise. Like her mother.

    We have found that there are many wonderful things that have come from the RA journey. I'll share if you ever want to hear about them.


  14. SB, thank you. This is nothing like what you describe, which sounds like going to the dr was a no-brainer.

    So, ok folks, I will make an appointment for a physical in June. Or July. Sometime.

  15. FWIW, my husband's onset was almost exactly like Songbird's.

    I think I misread your blog because I thought you were saying you wish you didn't have it but that you were already diagnosed with it.

    Self care can be difficult, it can seem so self-centered and selfish.

    But, for those around you it is comforting to see you take care of your precious body.

    That's what I gleaned from The Lovely Daughter's words.

  16. RA is not good. Do not go there...

  17. aie... please see your doctor soon...

  18. I'm hoping that by now you have already scheduled the appointment for the unnamed future date. I've had RA for a long time and while it is all of the things you have named, it is also treatable. No one who looks at any of my joints (without the aid of x-rays or other imaging) has any idea how long (over 40 yrs) I have had some form of RA (first JRA). Don't let it beat you before you see medical professionals who can help.