12:30am. I sat up dripping with sweat in bed, looked around, and felt scared and confused. I was out of breath and my heart seemed to be thumping out of my chest like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. With my face tingling and my tongue partially numb I leapt from bed to the restroom seeking to resume normalcy. What the hell is happening to me? Before washing my hands and face I turned on the bright light and stared at myself. Am I okay? My face feels swollen but it merely looks hot and sweaty but otherwise normal. Was I seeing clearly? My heart continued to race and I fled back to bed. I quietly propped up myself and grabbed my iPhone and my dear friend Google. Anxiety attack? Heart attack? What is this? I was scared. My husband was sleeping ever so peacefully when I roused him. I’m scared. I feel weird. Can you look and talk to me and see if I am acting normal? Is my face swollen? Help me. We talked, decided against the ER, and an hour later I was laughing at my husband’s bad jokes and ready to resume sleep. I was frightened but surprisingly went back to sleep with little issue.
Since, sleeping has been rough. For awhile I was scared of a reoccurrence of my above episode. My husband would peacefully enter his uninterrupted slumber while my eyes remained bright and brain active and in fear. Thank goodness for HBO on demand! After a few “normal” nights my fear dissipated and I felt I had recovered. Whew! But then I woke within the hour of 2am with chest pain and feeling short of breath several times for multiple days… ahem weeks. Google directed me to WebMd and the Mayo Clinic which led me to having panic disorder, sleep apnea, heart, or lung problem. Rad!
Weeks later on a Friday at 8am my iPhone reminded me I had an appointment with my GP doctor on Monday. What is this appointment for? I didn’t have blood work order and had no idea of the purpose. Did he want to hear my adventures with RA? I decided I would cancel. I survived that weekend of ugh sleep and that Monday after not receiving a reminder call for my appointment I decided to call and cancel. Your appointment is next Monday the receptionist explained. I badly wanted to utter, can you cancel that appointment? But I didn’t. Instead I apologized for my confusion and thanked the woman. After I was frustrated I didn’t cancel. That was the whole point of the call! Damn! Intuitively I reacted that my appointment could not have been better timed.
A few days prior I got a strange feeling I was short methotrexate pills. My husband counts out my 8 pills for me every week so I never have a clear visual inside of the bottle. I shook my head at myself and cursed my worrying as I walked to the medicine cabinet. I struggled to open the RAer proofed lid, danced with success when I did it, and behold found only 7 pills left! What?! This is crazy. How did I know?
I bought a new journal recently to accompany this awesome book I’m reading called Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn (you should totally read it too). Fast forward to today. I filled the first page and a quarter with my symptoms and sleep issues that I planned to recite to my doctor at today’s appointment. I dripped with sweat and was loaded with anxiety as I waited in the office. I wiped the sweat and my husband told me jokes to ease my tension. I told my doctor I nearly canceled and dreaded the visit as the shocking diagnosis of RA hits me like a freight train when I enter his office. He chuckled. I sat sweating more.
I talked briefly about my issues. He was concerned they were drug side effects. When I spoke of my rib pain he appeared baffled about RA effecting more than small joints. Oh boy. After getting through part of my list he recommended a full blood work up, chest X-ray, referral to an ophthalmologist, and a referral for an in home sleep apnea test. His biggest concerns related to side effects of medications while my biggest concerns are the disease. Ether way the tests are good. I only forgot to ask about two things- why pain medications suck and what I can do and why I hiccup so frequently.
I came home thinking sleep apnea? Really? I’m thin, don’t snore, and don’t have any of the symptoms. Or do I? Check out RA Warrior’s article. RA warrior is a wealth of knowledge.
Other random thing I learned today in my research… ganglion cysts are related to RA! I had one as a kid (maybe 10 years old) for years and it came back for a year (I had a blast scaring my students with it… telling them is was an unhealed broken wrist ::insert evil laugh::) and went away just before my severe onset. Crazy! The journey with RA always seems to connect dots while simultaneously surprising (or startling) from around the corner. It challenges me more than I knew possible but, somehow has made me a better person. Though I sweat, a lot, I don’t sweat the little things. RA has a way of showing significance and helping prioritize. It has also helped me to listen to my intuition. I’m not a hypochondriac… this is all the real deal. I’ll keep you posted with the findings from my new tests. I always hated tests.