Tag Archives: Joint pain

Moving

Well, I am moving in less than a week for my husband’s job, and I am starting to stress out big time. I’m not good with change, and this is a lot of change all at once. We are moving to a completely different city one hour away from where we were before. It’s taken the four years that we’ve lived here for me to finally get comfortable and make friends, and now we’re moving. There isn’t a bone in me that wants to move, and I’ve seriously been dreading moving day.

We will have a new home which I love, but I will admit I’m nervous about because of the stairs. Normally stairs aren’t a problem. I do the stair master at the gym, which, BTW ladies does wonders for the booty. But when I’m having joint pain, or a really bad flare, I worry about getting in and out of the house. It was a concern before I chose this place, but it was the best choice due to location and space.

Then there’s the job hunt. I’ve interviewed at a few places, but I haven’t signed a contract yet. I have this huge fear about about getting stuck in a miserable practice that is completely profit driven, instead of patient centered. I had a really horrible experience with my first job that I was at for two years. I’ll tell you the story sometime, and you’ll understand.

And the packing is making me crazy. It isn’t just that it’s physical labor but it’s emotionally taxing. I am very sentimental and I save everything. I’m talking receipts from a romantic dinner my husband took me too three years ago and clothes that I wore in high school (they will NEVER fit me again). Moving is the best time to de-clutter, and I’ve had to grudgingly throw away a lot of things that I’m seriously attached too.

With all the stress and change, I’m starting to worry about having a flare. And that’s when I realize, I just need to stop, take a deep breath, and know that everything is going to be OK. Life is going to be full of change, especially when I have lupus. I just have to have relax and have faith that I’m on the right track. God’s got a plan for me far better than I could even imagine.

Rain, rain, go away!

So, my knees started to ache a little last night. I thought maybe it was from my beastly resistance training workout, but when I woke up this morning I heard the soft downpour of rain.
I’m sure many of you have experienced this. Cold or rainy weather worsening joint pain or body aches.
I’ve been doing some research, and I wanted to find a scientific paper on the affects of weather on joint pain and lupus. I haven’t found anything other than speculation of joint pain being related to humidity and barometric pressure. Here is one link I found www.specialtyclinics.med.sc.edu/joint_pain.asp

If anyone has seen any good articles explaining the relationship between lupus and bad weather, please feel free to share!

My Story: Part 5- Family

I also waited in telling my family, but for different reasons. My parents and two sisters live in a different state and I didn’t want them worrying about me. I knew they would want to come up and see me, and I lived in such a tiny place, and could barely take care of myself, I wasn’t ready to host them.

I told them a couple weeks after I was officially diagnosed, but I minimized it considerably. They naturally want to see me and I agreed to let them come a couple months later, after I had moved into my new place with my boyfriend.

When they came, it was like nothing was different. I had been on the high dose steroids for a couple months, and my energy and pain levels were almost back to normal. I was able to take a day trip out to the beach with them and spend the day walking around the city another day. The only thing that was slightly different about me was my shape. My mother had bought a couple dresses for me and when I tried to put them on, they wouldn’t zip up the back.

My family went back home with the sense that everything was normal, and I was fine. The lupus had resolved, and I was no longer sick. Part of me had wanted them to feel that way because I didn’t want to stress out my not so healthy parents, but another part of me wanted the attention, and wanted them to be concerned. I would feel jealous when they would go running to my sister when she would have a mild asthma attack, while I was suffering with something far more serious.

My family really didn’t understand until I came home for a week on vacation. I had been having serious fatigue and body aches. Usually when I went home on vacation, I was always out visiting with my friends, coming home only to eat with my family. Since I went to medical school and college in different cities, an hour away from each other, I usually did quite a bit of travelling and overnight stays. This time it was different. I stayed in bed all day, not even wanting to go out for special mother/daughter time.  I think it really hit my father when he saw me walking bent over because I was so stiff.

I still hide a lot of what’s going on with me, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to keep it all a secret. I can share my feelings and receive the support I need, without distressing my family. I don’t  need shut out the people who love me anymore.

My Story: Part 4: Love

My boyfriend and I had only been dating for a couple months when I had been diagnosed. He also was a resident so he had an idea of what the disease meant. Neither of us really knew what a life with lupus meant, but we knew it would not be an easy one.

I remember one day driving with him to a wedding a few hours away.The conversation of having children came up. If I had a kidney biopsy, and things looked pretty bad, I may have to be on medication that could possibly prevent me from having children. With the anti-phospholipid antibodies, even if I could get pregnant I may not be able to carry a pregnancy. And then there was the concern for my own health, having bad flares during pregnancy. We talked about freezing eggs, in vitro, surrogates, and adoption. Pretty heavy stuff for a new relationship, but I wanted to make sure we were both on the same page. I didn’t want to get too attached, only to have him realize it was too much to handle and leave. He had told me before that he really wanted to have children, and that passing on genes was the purpose of life. I told him then I would understand if he wanted to end  the relationship.

He did the opposite. Instead of running away, he moved in with me four months after we had started dating. I was having trouble with some of my daily duties. After work, in the evenings, was the worst time for me. I’d come home so exhausted, I couldn’t prepare food for myself. Forget about cleaning. Some days my fingers hurt so bad I couldn’t pick up a dish or brush my hair. Other times, I couldn’t get on and off the toilet, or out of bed without assistance. He made a bold move moving in with me, knowing he’d have to care for me. But that’s how I knew he was a keeper.

The next few months were tough for me, and I’m sure they were rough for him too. I know there were times when he’d considered giving up, and moving on. But he stuck by me, and even married me three years later.

I know things don’t always work out that way, but I do believe in a God that provides. I believe things happen for a reason, and I believe whatever happens in our life, we should never give up. Not on life, or love, or ourselves. We always have to hope.

My Story: Part 3- Residency Continued

Although I was glad to be able to finish residency, it was not easy. There were days when the pain in my knees would be so bad I would be limping from room to room. The fatigue had gotten better with the high dose of steroids sending me into a state of jittery high, but after I had spent all my energy, I would crash hard.

I remember one overnight call, where it was an especially busy night. I was stuck in the ER doing admissions. The floors were also busy with critical patients, and nonstop codes. Perhaps it was a full moon. I kept finishing one task, hoping to be able to sneak off to the call room , eat something, and take my meds, but only to have another urgent task awaiting me. I watched the clock, 10 o’clock, 11:30, midnight.

I eventually caught fifteen minutes to eat, but after that it was back to the grind. The work seemed endless, my body ached, and I could barely keep my eyes open.  I remember finishing up my admissions, and as I was walking out the ER at 4 AM, the ER attending tells me he’ll have another patient ready for admission in another hour. I went to lay down for the hour, and prayed that would be the last one before sign out.

There was also the time when my left eye vision became blurry. I was in the middle of interviewing a patient in the ER, and I didn’t want the patient to feel I was incompetent, so I finished the interview, squinting to write my notes. Twenty minutes later, after I finished the admission, I ran to the clinic to speak with my attending. She didn’t know what was wrong, and told me to call my rheumatologist.

I went to the ER at a different hospital, and after a neurology consult and MRI, it was determined that I was having migraine auras. It turns out the constant lack of sleep and stress was causing me to have these painless migraines. I left grateful that it wasn’t any serious problems with the blood vessels in my eyes, which is what my rheumatologist had feared.

There were several other incidents here and there, and sometimes I had to be seen in the ER I worked at. Many times, I’d lay in that ER bed, embarrassed as my colleagues and other attendings would walk past, catch a glimpse of me in a hospital gown, then ask what was wrong. I never looked sick, and I always feared they would think I was just trying to get out of work.

It was a tough journey, but I made it through with lots of prayers and the support of loved ones.

My Story: Part 1- Signs and Symptoms

One of the most common things I hear in the lupus community is that it took a very long time to reach a diagnosis. Patients with lupus have very vague symptoms which can also mimic other diseases. If you’ve ever watched the show “House, M.D.”, you know lupus is almost always on the differential. We suffer through multiple tests and treatments searching for an answer. You would think as a doctor, someone with experience diagnosing patients, that I would have been able to interpret my own signs and symptoms. But, alas, I could not.

My symptoms began most likely a year or so before I was officially diagnosed. I say most likely, because I am not sure. The symptoms I had were mild and transient so I never paid much attention to them. Things didn’t start to become noticeable until my second year of residency. It had started out with knee pain. The pain was quite strong, but I was still able to walk if I wore a soft knee brace and popped a couple Aleves. I consulted with the orthopedic residents, and although they could feel a little crepitus (crackling), they couldn’t find anything specific. They said maybe I hurt myself at the gym, and we left it at that.

The next thing I started to notice was the pain in both my wrists. Being a physician, I was constantly writing or typing notes and orders, so I figured I had carpel tunnel syndrome. I bought a couple wrist braces, more NSAIDs and called it a day. I also was very fatigued, but doesn’t every resident feel that way? We run around all day, up and down stairs, pushing patient’s beds, working overnight and twenty-four hour shifts, and then coming home to study or work on power point presentations. I mean just writing about it makes me tired.

And then it was the hair loss, but I didn’t actually pick up on it. My landlady had hired a cleaning lady, and when the cleaning lady quit, she would come down and clean my basement apartment. She would get upset about the amount of hair on the floor and clogging the shower. But doesn’t stress cause your hair to fall out? And residency was definitely stressful.

Then things really started to spin out of control. On my vacation to California, I started to feel a lot more joint pain. It was in my knee, and my wrists, and now in my toes. I could hardly walk when we were sightseeing, holding back the tour groups we were in. I told myself I would get it checked out when I got back, but I knew I’d be too busy to.

A week after I got back, I started developing swelling in my face. I thought I was allergic to my boyfriend’s cat. I took Benadryl but it continued to get worse. I was too embarrassed to go to work looking like the Marshmallow Man. My vanity finally brought me to the doctor’s office.

My boyfriend took the day off and drove me to the office, since I could barely see through my puffy cheeks. The doctor took some urine and blood, and started me on prednisone for my “allergic reaction”.  I didn’t know it then, but my life was about to change completely.