I first heard of autoimmune diseases when I met my best friend Cec. She’s got Lupus. All I knew then was that some things trigger the disease and then it starts attacking her skin. And sometimes the attacks have been so major that there are holes on her skin or parts “eaten” away completely.
The cardiologist at Nairobi Hospital mentioned that all my tests had come out clean but he felt that he should check for autoimmune disease. And they run the tests and were very shocked. Because one where the normal range is 1- 5, I scored 70 and another one where the normal range is 1 – 20 and I scored more than 200. As in more than 200 and the lab guy stopped counting. The cardiologist was in a panic and called the specialist to conduct a review.
- While squeezing my hand, are you in any pain? No
- Tapping each joint in my hands, any pain? No
- Hitting my backbone, going through all joints, any pain? No
- Squeezing my knees, any problems here? No
- Rotating my ankles, any issues with your ankles? YIKES. Yes. The reason why I came to hospital. I couldn’t walk. My ankle is swollen. It is painful…
He looked very confused. According to him, with my results, I should not have been able to shake anyone’s hand due the pain I should have been experiencing. He seemed to think that the results were not mine and that there was a misdiagnosis.
So he asked me to tell him about all the pains I had felt in the recent past.
I went hiking on Ngong Hills and fell while coming down the last hill. I twisted my foot then sat on it so my hip joint had been in pain. However, other joints have had sympathetic pains. So my elbows, shoulders and other hip joint also were in pain at some point. I also had a “pea” in my elbow and it kept travelling from one side to the other and also to my knuckles.
The light went on in his eyes. Njenva, you have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Also known as RA.
No I don’t! What is that!?
He went on to explain what it was and I also googled and read about it but didn’t think he was being serious. All the descriptions that were out there were not what I was feeling. I just couldn’t walk. That was it. When he suggested that I begin medication immediately, I thought he was kidding. Serioulsy? And talking of steroids and chemotherapy type of drugs. Really? Since I knew I was going to take Mrs. Adrian to India in 3 months, I requested the doctor to allow me to think about it for 3 months. And he said that it was going to be time wasted that cannot be recovered.
Fast Forward to 3 months later – which was last week. At a Rheumatologist’s office in Gurgaon, India. After taking another round of tests just before coming to India. And after a very hard 3 months. “You have severe rheumatoid arthritis. If you don’t start medication immediately, you’ll be in a wheelchair within a year. Can you see how your fingers are deformed? Your type develops quickly. We need to get you on medication ASAP!”
I can’t believe how fast things changed in the 3 months.
- My walking style has changed. Hipilicious calls it the penguin waddle. I take the stairs like a baby. Both feet must be on the same step otherwise the pain I have in my feet is horrendous.
- I can’t use my fingers for some things that you don’t have to normally think about. Who thinks about using a finger to scratch an itch, turning the tap to shower, peeling an orange, opening a jar or turning a key? I have severe pain every time I try doing any of this. Some days are good, while others….
- To say hi, I now prefer waving to bumping fists or shaking hanks. I dread going into meetings where people will want to shake hands. Or where people will start judging your character by how hard your handshake is.
- My knees pain even when I am sleeping! As in my dreams have an element of paining knees. I have cried in my sleep on so many nights, including one where I had forgotten that Hipilicious was sharing my bed and she asked, “Are you crying” and I said nooooooo….
- I am not a morning person but this thing called “morning stiffness” makes sure that I am in pain from about 4.30am to about 10am even as I am not ready to face the day!
- Driving has become torture.
And today I have just come from seeing the doctor who will be my Rheumatologist. He has confirmed (for the fourth time!) that I need to be on medication ASAP. I am so scared of the negative effects of the medication for RA. Njenva MUST start taking RA medication by 4th September 2015.
But I know that God’s got my back. He has shown himself in various ways:
- Mrs. Adrian being SO WELL during the trip to India where I was to be her attendant. I think she ended up being my attendant! I thank God for her good health, for such a time as this!
- Hipilicious agreeing to drive. We fight over this so many times but she has been driving me around when we have to run errands together.
- Skinny being agreeable to me sending her upstairs when at Mrs. Adrian’s place. Coming down a slope/steps is like medieval torture to my knees.
- Jumwa just being my right hand girl. Running errands for me and never complaining.
- My prayer partner Tweetie for checking up on me EVERY SINGLE DAY. And for praying with me and reminding me of God’s word that promises me healing.
- JINK for being there for me. Nas for hosting me at her place so that she can monitor my health (what she thought!) while I worked from home. All I wanted was free internet….. IMO for running up down and sideways to source for funds and her help when DRAMA went down in India. KYS for praying for me and listening to me whined and threw tantrums.
- Nyaguthii who is currently still hosting me at her place. That is 10 minutes away from work so I don’t have to drive for long. (Though I think her security guards have agreed that I am a victim of domestic violence since I limp and I only check in after 11pm!)
- My boss has been so understanding, I feel like crying when I think about it. She has allowed me to work at my own pace, delegate like crazy and take as many breaks as I need – without deducting my leave days! And still send me “love” notes every so often to say that she wishes me well.
It has been the hardest thing I have had to endure in this life of mine. And this RA? It’s got a fight coming. It will not know what hit it! My sisters and I have been praying today. And God answers our prayers. ALWAYS