Today I *finally* saw my new rheumatologist (in case you missed it, my previous doctor retired in November, coincidentally when one of my worst flares decided to start). I had such high expectations for her. The funny thing is, they weren’t concrete expectations- like a good listener, researched focused, etc. I was just looking forward to seeing someone who understood my disease and could maybe help me. That simple.
She started the visit about 30 minutes late. Why? She actually read all of my previous visit notes, viewed my X-rays and MRIs, and looked at lab results for the past five years. She came in and simply said “I’ve written a timeline of your disease from my point of view but I’d like to review it with you so we can put you, the person, into the timeline”.
What? Why has no doctor ever done that before?
After we discussed the five years I’ve spent battling Rheumatoid Arthritis, she wanted to talk about my life before diagnosis. How often did I get sick? How was my health before I started injecting methotrexate every week?
Why? As I would learn, she was concerned with how horribly sick Humira made me yet how greatly it reduced my disease activity. She’s concerned that because I have Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s, & RA and since I have a strong family history of Type 1, cancer, thyroid disease, and lupus, I might have an immunoglobulin deficiency.
So what’s the plan? First, lots and lots of bloodwork and more X-rays of my hands and feet. And in addition to my methotrexate, we’re starting Plaquenil right away. While I wait for the results to come back, I’m researching Rituxan, Xeljanz, and Actemra as potential next biologics.
In the past, I’ve been pretty upset when switching biologics. It’s scary to me that I have already gone through Humira (twice), Enbrel, Orencia, and Simponi Aria in less than five years. But this time is different. I’m excited to get my labs done. I’m excited to start a new medication. I’m excited because today, my doctor gave me something invaluable- she gave me hope.
Hope that she can help my disease slow down.
Hope that I can keep getting stronger by powering through my pain at the gym.
Hope that there are better days coming my way.