RA Diagnosis story
This week, there is a three part blog running on the site Test-Guess-And-Go http://testguessandgo.com/ . I am thrilled that the site administrators Laddie and Sue have agreed to host this long blog. I am so grateful to them for allowing me to provide this particular content to them, and I hope that as site administrators they are pleased with the result. When you turn over control to your site for even one little post it is so difficult that site administrators just do not do it very often. I do not know that I could give up control of something I had obviously worked so hard to build.
When we discussed the blog I was given some ideas that I might explore. One of them was Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and how it appealed to me. Regular readers of my dribble here on TUDiabetes.org, know that over the years I have mentioned some of my background with RA, how I feel about it and the impact of the disease on my life. This series expands on that story and makes it more personal. Writing the series was cathartic. I had to face some issues that were very personal in a way that I have never done in writing, if that sounds like something you would like to read, I hope you drop in to Test-Guess-And-Go and some or all of the series.
Yesterday the blog discussed the most personal part of how I was diagnosed with RA. In part, I tell the story of the pain I caused my oldest son over his beautiful new car. This incident cuts to the bone when I retell it or even think of it. Even today 15 years later I remember that incident as if it were yesterday.
It also tells the story of how I was unable to accompany my younger son on his college visit while I was so left sidelined in the visitor’s center. Indiana University (IU), the place Pat attended, is also the University I graduated from (at a regional campus) twice and more important a place where my mother was accepted, and given a scholarship but could not attend first because of finances then because she married my father.
In my household, as I grew up, attending IU was held up as a high standard. My mom never regretted her choices but she always aspired that her son, or grandsons would someday attend that campus. It was a very big piece of work left undone. There I was with Pat on the campus that meant so much to my family sitting in the visitor’s center while he toured campus. It was not my best moment and I suppose in a way it marked the end of the beginning of discovering I had RA. I mean let’s face it when you cannot walk the campus you love so much with your son then you have to admit that something was very wrong.
In a way, as difficult as these two events and others proved to be, they gave me my life back. Within a few weeks of the visit to Bloomington I was diagnosed and on a new path. Sometimes folks ask what differences between being diagnosed with RA and Diabetes are. In many ways it was the same but different. I was living my life and going forward, in both cases. I thought I was doing well in both instances (in retrospect I was not living well with RA), and finally in both cases I felt a tremendous sense of loss. Loss of independence, loss of being carefree, and the loss of the life I liked so much.
In other ways, RA was so much worse. RA was like a massive blow not just to me but also my family. When I was diagnosed with Diabetes I was living at home, 17 and if I was not alone, I certainly felt alone. With RA I was married two fine sons that I love beyond all measure a loving and caring wife and the one thing that defined me completely, a career. Less than 9 years following the RA diagnosis I had to give up my career and I think the day I walked out of the doctor’s office I knew my career was at the beginning of the end.
So if you read my blog yesterday on Test-Guess-And–Go I hope you see it as a story of beginnings and ends. It was the beginning of knowing what was wrong, and the beginning of the end of my career, but also the end of feeling so bad and not knowing why. If you read the blog yesterday I hope you enjoyed the diagnosis story, but I also hope you stick with the series which next discusses treatment and finally the RA / Diabetes connection. I hope it will be worth your time.