Day 4 - #HAWMC - A Letter to "Myself" at the time I was diagnosed knowing now what I did not know then....
Dear Rhia (self),
You had already "figured out" that something must be wrong with your immune system. You had been through enough doctors, tests, had so many symptoms resembling Lupus, RA, and several others like Sjogren's and Raynaud's that you really did not know much about.
When the 1st round of labs came back, from my own PCP (who diagnosed me at first), he knew that you needed to see a specialist. Although you come to find out your PCP has been more beneficial with the Lupus and Lupus Flares, that the Rheumatologist, who concentrates more on the RA than the other Autoimmune diseases.
You now can recall the first Rheumatologist, even though he was quite elderly, had just came back to work after a stroke himself, but his diagnosis, just after a thorough examination gave proof enough to show not only did I show signs of Lupus, RA, Raynaud's, Sjogren's, but had findings of probable MCTD, and that was almost more frightening than the Lupus and the others.
My moments that now I wished I had realized that ALL RHEUMY"S are NOT THE SAME, is something I wished I knew when I was first diagnosed. That caused me going through at least 7 specialists, each of which had a different "edge" and look on my diseases, or lack thereof. Most of them were only "blood work" driven. Not anything to do with all of the symptoms I had for years and years.
I could have saved myself a great deal of stress, worry, and getting nowhere, had I known to search for the "proper" Rheumatologist from the beginning. I've also come to find out my doctors here at my local Urgent Care know more about my conditions, than my Rheumy's for the most part. Plus if I am in a severe flare, there is no way I could get into my Rheumy in Dallas quickly. With those at Urgent Care I can be in and out, have the medications I need, and be hopefully on the road to curving the flare, without having to drive 40 miles each way, and maybe not getting what I need.
When I found out that I had 2 or 3 other 1st cousins, all on my Mom's side with RA, then we each began to piece together that this could very well be "genetic".
I wished I had known more about Sjogren's, for one. Maybe had one doctor done more about the Sjogrnen's I would not have lost ALL OF MY TEETH WITHIN A COUPLE OF MONTHS, requiring severe pain, and many dentists visits, to have all of them pulled that were left, and then try to deal with dentures, and the expense of over 15,000.00! Now I am still left with "pretty straight" teeth, BUT "fake" in nature.
So, I also wished I had more knowledge of how I could have been a volunteer and advocate before I myself had been diagnosed. I think had I been involved in some ways with the organizations who help us I may have felt "better" about myself, and not so ashamed of what these illnesses can do to us, our minds, bodies and souls... plus relationships, friendships, and the way people "see" us after we are ill.