Back in October, I ran my 3rd half marathon post-baby, and I walked long stretches. Walked. I never walk in races. My body was telling me to slow down. I felt achy, tired, and just could not push forward.
Afterward, my body felt creaky, like an old wood floor. I hobbled around like I had just run for hours. Every step I took hurt my joints. My left foot had been hurting me for a few weeks, but now it was yelling at me. My friends asked me how it went, and all I could say was, “Today just wasn’t my day.”
But deep down, I knew something else was wrong. These aches and pains had been getting worse since I had my son, William, 6 months prior. I was experiencing swelling in various joints, too. Maybe I had overdone it? Pushed too hard post-baby? At first, I attributed my aches and pains to getting older (but really, I’m only 30! That can’t be it!)
After multiple doctor visits and seeing a specialist, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She thinks I may have always had this autoimmune progressive disease, as I experienced similar symptoms in high school, but it “flared up” after my son was born.
You can read more about rheumatoid arthritis here. I am joining Olive along with 1.4 million Americans who have the disease.
So now what? Well, as I write this it’s been about a month since my diagnosis, and I went through all the phases of “grief”: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. My husband told me I am allowed to have moments of anger or “why me?”, but I need to move forward and figure things out. He’s right.
My doctor said of all the diseases out there, this is the “one to get.” There are about 24 different medications on the market for it, and many people are able to get it to go into remission for years with treatment, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
I continue to run because it helps my stiffness and pain so much. I am looking forward to a few shorter races this spring. I have a coach who is helping me get back into the swing of things, smart and slow.
On the days I don’t run, my symptoms are much worse. I am now taking two different medications several times a day to halt the RA symptoms and inflammation.
Mentally, some days are better than others. With my ICU nursing background, it’s very difficult for me to accept that I am a patient. I’m used to being the caretaker, and I struggle with the thought that someone might think me less of a runner or a less capable person because of my disease. I never want my son to think of his mother as being weak, and I continue to draw strength from looking at him and remembering that I can do anything. I am determined to get back to my old marathon times, and back to feeling good. My rheumatologist’s goal is to help me get there.
I purposely did not go into a long description of my RA symptoms, but if you have any questions, please reach out in the comments! Do you have RA, or know anyone that does? Have you ever had a why me moment?