Living with RA: The onset of symptoms 

Should pain started years ago but went ignored. It wasn’t until my knees felt like they were literally on fire and I wanted to scream out in agony with every attempt to kneel or squat that I knew something was wrong.

It was in the middle of December 2014 that I began to notice the pain. At the time, my thoughts were “you’re working too hard.” Between working two jobs and dealing with public transportation I was putting too much of a strain on my body and this how it was letting me know.

Over the next several weeks,  the pain gradually increased.  Just after the new year,  I figured it was time I got it checked out.  Having just moved back to Milwaukee within the last year,  I needed a new primary doctor. After having a difficult time finding a doctor that would take my insurance I finally decided to give my mom’s doctor a crack at it. What a waste of time.

I went to this man that I quickly learned was not a doctor but in all actuality was a Physician Assistant who can do much of anything for you without the constant of a doctor. He sent me for X-rays and came back with the notion that the pain was weight related. That was an unacceptable diagnosis for me given that at my heaviest I topped the scale at 327 lbs. By this time I’d dropped down to about 305.

Since that was the best he could do,  I decided to look for another primary physician. With a number of job changes came insurance changes as well. So a few months went by before I finally found a new doctor. During that time,  the pain led me to urgent care where more X-rays were taken and all they could tell me was the same thing, “loose some weight.”

It was July before I was finally able to get in to see my new doctor.  At this point I’d been dealing with the pain for about seven months. I wanted relief. The first thing the doctor did was to review my chart. Since many of the clinics and urgent care units that I’d been too were within the Columbia St. Mary’s network, he had access to all those records. After explaining to him what was going on he said, “It says here that you have arthritis.”

He took me by surprise with that because no one had ever told me that. And that’s what I said. He said, “Well that’s what the x-ray from March show.”

“Wow,” was all that I could come up with.

This doctor put me through a battery of test that day and called me weeks later with the results. I knew that all would matter towards the treatment plan. But all I could think about as I was leave his office was how this new information was going to effect change in my life.

I spent the next several weeks doing research on arthritis and learning what it does to the body and how it could be treated.


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