I have never written about my journey with Hashimoto’s (thyroid disease) or Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. Of all the topics I cover regularly, it hasn’t fit into my editorial calendar. However, it’s on my mind a lot. I have been drafting a post about trying to follow the Hypothyroid Diet and how my joints are really aching. I hope a change in diet will change that.
However, I haven’t had the time to try the diet or write the post.
And now the pain has moved into my feet and is becoming worse. I am scared.
Chronic pain tends to over run your life.
But let me back up a little.
When I was 16 weeks pregnant with my second child, Jelly Bean, I began having a strange swelling in my hands. I know it was exactly at that point, because my co-workers convinced me to go see a doctor and they were unable to do any x-rays because I was 16 weeks pregnant!
A week or so later, I began having horrible pain in my knees and feet. Such terrible pain that sometimes when I stood up, I thought I might collapse. Climbing stairs was excruciating on my knees. And my legs started swelling.
I brought all of this up to my OB/GYN who laughed it off and just told me “You’re pregnant! Of course your knees are going to hurt and your legs are swelling!” I felt like an idiot for even bringing it up!
However, it did bother me that the pain was so extreme and that my legs and feet were swelling. I had not had any swelling during my first pregnancy, and I had not gained much weight by this point so I was confused as to why my knees would feel this way.
Fast forward the next 36 weeks. The pregnancy went fine (thankfully) and I delivered at 40 weeks. No issues with the baby, but the pain and swelling persisted.
Three months later, my knees were still swelling and the pain was so bad, I was terrified that I would drop my infant in the bath tub each time I stood up to take her out of the bath.
I could not squat down and play with my two young children on the floor.
I could not run after my almost 3 year old toddler.
I was miserable and only just turned 33! But I felt 83.
When I mentioned it to my mom, she encouraged me to go see my Endocrinologist as soon as possible. Yes, I see an Endo. Because I have had Thyroid Disease (Hashimotos to be precise) diagnosed at the age of 20. This is also an auto immune disease. No one told me they often “run in packs” until I began showing signs and symptoms of other auto immune diseases.
He immediately told me he believed I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and sent me to a specialist.
Looking back, I am still surprised that my OB did not ask any further questions, especially given the fact that when you google “joint pain” “swollen knees” and “pregnancy” – LUPUS jumps right out at you.
Turns out that I had the magic combination.
- A pre-existing auto immune disease.
- A very stressful job and life (I was also going to school full time to complete my Masters and I was chasing a toddler around in my free time!) and
- I was pregnant. Pregnancy matched with these other factors can trigger lupus and other issues.
So, I went through an extensive battery of blood work, physical exams, and questioning before it was determined that I definitely had more than one auto-immune disease. Trouble is, with crossover symptoms, it was difficult to diagnose RA or Lupus or other secondaries.
Therefore, my official diagnosis is: “non differentiated tissue disease.” I am being treated for Lupus and my thyroid disease but being monitored every six months in case more RA symptoms or (others) decide to add to the fun.
Recently the RA symptoms began resurfacing. The joints in my feet hurt and are swelling. My fingers are swelling. My body feels like I got hit by a truck for about the first 30-45 minutes of each day.
This does not make me happy.
Monday I will tell you about a resource I am using to help and why I chose now to bring up the topic!