I finally heard back from my doctor yesterday regarding the blood work that was done over a month ago testing for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The tests showed that certain things were “high”, but not definitive enough to state that Rheumatoid Arthritis is the problem. However, because it was inconclusive, I have been referred to a specialist and have an appointment on Wednesday. I am so relieved, you have no idea.
After have done some research on the type of specialist, and reading what I could, I have learned a few things. The problem that I am having is not going to be easy to diagnose, and it may take several visits and trial/error things before we know what’s causing my pain and can look for a solution. Rhuematologists do more than arthritis – they do an extra three years of medical training in the diagnosis and treatment of joint and soft tissue maladies. In addition to arthritis, they also are “experts” in things like fibromyalgia and tendonitis.
Needless to say I am thrilled to finally get to a doctor that is going to understand the pain that I have and is hopefully going to be able to help find solutions to help relieve it. Also, somewhat needless to say, I am in the market for a new primary care physician. The length of time it took for my doctor to get back to me and refer me to a specialist was unacceptable. She had my test results on June 30th, and signed off on them at that time. Yet it took another full month for an assistant – not even her – to call me, and only after I called to inquire about them (and even then it took another three business days before I was called). This was the last of many things that have drove me to this decision, but it was the one that finally pushed me to make a change. As such, if you happen to know of any great doctors in the Seattle/Redmond area, I’d love to hear about them. I got a few great suggestions from Twitter yesterday that I’m checking out, but I want to explore all of my options!
As for my hands, I took a picture this morning. It’s a little hard to see some of the swelling – but I thought I’d let you see what you could (and if nothing else, you can look and go “god Beru, manicures – have you heard of them?!). The swelling is the least in the morning, and only grows worse throughout the day, with the worst being in the evenings, often regardless of if I’ve spent 3 hours or 30 minutes at the keyboard.
So probably the most obvious thing that you can see is the swelling in the knuckles on my fingers. They get so big at times that when I type or do other things with my hands my knuckles actually knock into each other. You can see some of the swelling in the soft tissue of my fingers, but not much. Where I have the sharpest pain is between where my finger meets my hand and that first knuckle.
What is harder to see is that the top of my hand also swells. With the soft tissue surrounding the knuckles on the top of my hand sometimes doubling in size. The top of my hand never has sharp pain, but lately has sometimes taken to have a burning sensation. Sometimes my hands feel very cold and sometimes they tingle just a little, and I’m not even sure that “tingle” is the best description for the feeling. I do not believe that I have numbness.
Advil and the Topricin that I use can stunt the swelling some, but never completely alleviates it.
I never have wrist pain. I never have elbow pain. I never have shoulder pain. It is always only just my hands.
Hopefully I’ll have some answers on Wednesday. Or at least a better way to deal with the pain, and a path/plan to work through what is causing the pain. At the very least I’ll know that we are working on a better solution.
As soon as I learn more, I will offer another update! Until then, you’ll be glad to know that I finally got some video of Heroic Shannox that I’m comfortable using for a guide – even if the riplimb tank died at 8% and his dog ate my face at 2%. BAD DOG! ;)