Before 2009, the only knowledge I had of Rheumatoid Arthritis was from the commercials promoting new treatments. I had always disregarded the disease as simply something I would never get. My naive mind saw it as 'plain old arthritis', an issue that only 'old' people dealt with as they grew older. Needless to say, I was wrong.
Step1: The Beginning
I first began to notice the symptoms during my junior year of highschool. Being an active swimmer and dancer, this pain was not acceptable. I originally went to my primary physician due to knee pain, and was sent to physical therapy (Which I'm convinced made my joints worse). After three months of no results, the disease had not only gotten worse, it had moved to my fingers and wrists.
Step 2: False Diagnosis and a bad doctors visit
By this point, it was taking me a god awful 45 minutes to get out of bed and moving in order for the morning stiffness to slightly go away. My fingers however, continued to hurt througout the day. Because of the pain, I was unnable to dance and swim certain events. Frustrated from the pain, we decided to return to the doctor. She then falsely diagnosed me with Chondromalacia Patellae, a softening of the cartelige under the knee-cap. She also ordered that we go see an Osteopathic doctor to get my hands checked out.
This was by far my worst experience, considering the osteopathic doctor then suggested that I may have a tumor growing on the inside of my right middle finger bone, and that it may cancerous. We had an x-ray and mri on both hands and knees, the results showed some slight swelling, but no cancerous tumor. It also showed that I did not have Chondromalacia Patellae.
Step 3: The Sports Doctor
By this time, my mom had become extremely irritated at seeing her daughter in pain, and having no answers. So being the awesome strong minded person that she is, she took matters into her own hand. She did the research and soon had me in to see a very highly rated sports doctor. He actually suggested that I go see a different physical therapist, for it may have something to do with the way I walk and my joints. He was the first person to suggest joint damage, which prompted more research from my mother.
Step 4: The Rheumatologist
After the new physcial therapy treatments proved unsuccessful also, she immediately made an appointment with a rheumatologist (who has seriously saved my life). He looked at my symptoms, joints, and mri's and diagnosed me with what I would call sero negative rheumatoid arthritis. Meaning that I have all the symptoms and signs of RA, but my blood test proved negative for the RA factor. I continued to remain negative unil this past June (2011), when my diagnosis was changed to adult rheumatoid arthritis. \
I have moved away from my rheumatologist, but have continued to see him (Seriously such an amazing doctor. If anyone needs a juvenile rheumatologist in Phoenix, let me know!). I have been on many medications (which I will soon post about!), and have been in remission once, but recent came out of it.
I hope my story can show how hard it is to become diagnosed with this auto-immune disease, and to show you not to give up if you are in the process. It can be treated, and it WILL get better. I will go into detail soon about the medications, and if you have any questions feel free to ask!