at some point we all have to come clean.

Hey there chickadees.

And welcome to another installment of: I am so sorry, I’ve been keeping secrets again.

Sometimes, I just need to frame it up on my own first.

It doesn’t mean I love you any less.

This time, I’m writing to tell you that I had some not-so-great news recently.

Read: also, not-so-terrible.

In any case.

For the past 8 weeks, give or take, my body’s been in a fairly terrible place.

Around Labor Day, I woke up with swollen fingers and stiffness in my joints.

I ignored them, like any normal, usually-healthy, 28-year old girl, and left on a cross-country work trip that lasted about 10 days.

Things got worse. My hands and feet were giant-sized, my bones ached, and I had to sleep with hotel pillows under my legs.

It must be all this salty food, I reasoned. Or the drinking. And the long hours. And the lack of sleep, I was sure.

A little nagging voice in the back of my head might have mentioned that this had never happened before as a result of any of those things, but I pushed it away.

When I got back from my trips and I felt increasingly miserable, I made a doctor’s appointment.

Which was about when things got a bit scary for me.

At the same time my doctor was giving me blood tests, x-raying my chest, and sending me for an echocardiogram, I was simultaneously not sleeping, losing my grip on simple things like coffee cups, and starting to ache in my shoulders and my knees.

I started a Couch to 5K program with my dad, partly because I want him to be a runner like me, and partly because my joints hurt too much to run more than 90 seconds at a time.

But I knew I had to keep moving, chickens.

Thankfully, my blood, organs, and most importantly, my heart (please don’t let it be my heart, I thought to myself), all checked out.

My bones still ached.

In a fit of I can control anything through my sheer willpower, I cut out caffeine. And meat. And salt. And alcohol.

I was hungry.

And cranky.

I was basically living on sweet potatoes and grapefruit juice (chicks, I don’t even freaking like grapefruit juice…sick), since I had deemed those healing foods.

Despite all of that, my rings still didn’t fit.

My fingers couldn’t fasten buttons, pull up zippers, or tie shoes in the morning.

I thought about investing in velcro sneakers and dresses, for just one second, when I was trying to figure out how on earth I could get up early enough to complete the lengthy task of getting dressed and still get to work on time.

I swam so much that I couldn’t tell if my shoulders hurt because of what was happening or because I was slamming them into the water out of frustration.

Finally, finally, I went to see a rheumotologist last week, who took one long look at my swollen hands, listened to my story, and told me I have rheumatoid arthritis.

Which is not awesome, when you’re not thirty.

Or really any time at all, I guess.

To be honest though, for it to have a name and a plan was literally all I needed to feel like I could get a handle on what was happening to me.

Like one of my historical bffs Winston Churchill, I do better when I have something to fight against.

My doctor gave me a shot of steroids, explained my options (more steroids) for what is a chronic (read: not going away) condition,  and sent me on my way, armed with information and a couple of possible treatment plans.

The steroids made me feel like myself, and honestly, chickens, that’s what I needed.

I know they won’t last forever, but sometimes, you just need a jumpstart.

Next up: tackling this head on, because it’s the only thing I know how to do.

Also, being thankful for my friends and family, who insisted that I eat something other than a sweet potato and also kept me from doing ridiculous things (read: kettlebells) when I couldn’t make a fist over the past two months.

So I’m letting you know why I might be moving a little slower than usual.

But then, I’ve never been one to equate being down with being out.

I’ve got that 5k to hit next month, after all.



Filed under Chicago, Did I really do that?, Near Disaster, Reflections, Running

9 responses to “at some point we all have to come clean.

  1. I’m sorry, girl. But I’m also so happy you caught it and now have a way to combat it. I feel a lot of us are never proactive like this and could learn a thing or two…

  2. sorellaaglio

    I love you sorella, to the moon and back. I am proud of you for sharing this with everyone – a classic story of listen to what your body has to say. xoxo

  3. Auntie Rosemary

    You have the will of a tiger and you never give up. You will face this disease head on and educate yourself and do what your doctors think is most effective. You come from good strong stock and you have an enormous support system that loves you more than the heavens and the earth. I love you Nikki, with all my heart. If you ever need someone to lean on, I’m always here. I know I have to stand in line to have the opportunity to be a soft place for you to fall (and I am, Indeed, a very soft place to fall), because you have a loving, strong, tight family who will always surround you with love. When I grow up, I want to be like you. You set your sights on a goal and you don’t stop until you achieve it. It’s called ambition and Grandpa always said it’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or talented. If you don’t have ambition you are lost. You will always be ok. Because you are ambitious. You believe in yourself, and that is half the battle. I love you, my little Nikki Panda. Don’t ever forget that. xoxo.

  4. Diana Zajic

    Nikki, I can help. Call me. There are lots of options. I am living proof. I have had RA for over 15 years. The biological inhibitors have kept my RA from progressing. Steroids never helped with my swollen hands, shoulders or joints–Didn’t help with the pain, and didn’t curtail the symptoms. Get on something like Remicade, Humira or Orencia. I have not slowed down yet because of these drugs. Love you

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about this, Nikki! You have such a strong spirit and seem determined to tackle this head-on. Keep your chin up! You’re doing great already.

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