Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Well… RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)… or NOT?

I don't know!!! Argh!

I think the rheumatologist likes me to think not, but he has asked me to go back to see him in four weeks so he can run some blood tests on me. See, he can't know for sure!

The ankle so far has been getting better everyday. Last Thursday (4th day), it was still swollen like this (inserting the link instead of the actual picture to protect the foot-phobics). But on Monday, I was already able to walk slowly on my own without the crutches. By now (about 10 days after the onset), I can walk like a normal person. That's good because I didn't like the attention I got when I was walking like a 90 year old grandma. But of course, if you know me well, you know I'm not my normal self yet because I usually walk twice as fast as a normal person. The swelling has gone down substantially, but it looks purple now around the ankle and there is still discomfort in it when I move. But at least, I can walk now.

The doctor says having abnormal blood test results such as a high RA factor does not necessarily mean that I do have RA. After examining me up and down, he concludes I'm in a good shape. Most likely, the episode is just my body's over reaction to a subtle injury I had that was not picked up in either the X-Ray or the MRI. I have been accused of being melodramatic occasionally by the hubby and now a doctor confirms it! Good grief!

When he told me, "Don't worry. Go home and enjoy yourself!" I almost felt a little disappointed. To me, something had to be wrong when something as debilitating as that happened to a person. If the doctor could confirm what was wrong, it might sound awful or frighteningĀ  (e.g. RA), but at least we can start acting on that — diet, medicine, or anything — so it does not happen again. But now, nothing will be done or can be done, then how do I know that it won't suddenly happen again and maybe even be worse next time? (The thought of that just sent a chill down my spine.) All right… I guess I'll have to trust my doctor at this point. After all, he seems like a super nice guy, and he shares an office with Christine Thorburn, who came in 5th in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Women's Individual Cycling Time Trial. (BTW, my doctor's name is Andrew Rozelle and he asked me to call him Andrew. See, I told you he was super nice!)

– So, can I get back on my bike now?
– I'd rather you give it at least another week.
– But this is Bohlman-On Orbit, the only Low Key Hillclimb I had wanted to participate in badly! (Omitted here are some lengthy explanations on how painful this hillclimb is, which obviously sounded pretty convincing to the doctor.)
– Okay, if you really want to do it, fine. The worst case is it will swell up again…

Wow, so I might actually do it? Only a week after when I thought I might be disabled for life? Ha, that's a twisty turn on my life's path! Well, we'll see what happens on Saturday!

Update (2 hours after I wrote the post): Erik just remembered to tell me that the rheumatologist called home in the evening. (I was not home because I went to watch Michael Jack's This Is It by myself.) After I left the doctor's office, he talked to the radiologist who took my MRI and got a hold of my MRI. (The MRI images in the CD I brought him were not very clear.) It turned out that the situation was worse than he had thought. He mentioned that there was lot of fluid and swelling around the tendons and ligaments. So, he did not think me riding on Saturday would be a good idea because pushing hard could have a good chance of tearing the Achilles Tendon or other ligaments. Oops, shut down! That's okay though because in this case, ignorance probably would not be bliss.

16 Responses

  1. Krishnaon 05 Nov 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Hey Mei,

    Your foot looks awful! Glad to hear you may be back on the bike now.

    Krishna

    mudworm

    I spoke too soon. The doctor called and said no. Or, at least, not yet. (See the update above.) Good luck at your CX race on Saturday, Krishna!

  2. Julieon 06 Nov 2009 at 10:35 am

    Good seeing you this morning, Mei. I bet it felt good to be on the bike even if you were just taking it easy. Sorry you are going through all this. It stinks! Feel better soon and keep us posted.

    mudworm

    Erik was not too happy that I rode this morning. But I made the plan before hearing about the doctor's call. I did take it super easy, but I was so happy to be out on the trails again. It was a gorgeous morning!

  3. Royon 06 Nov 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Damn. I was hoping you'd be better sooner. I hope this doesn't keep you off your bike too long. As difficult as it is take care of yourself. You still have to clean Anza/Jackson. It will still be waiting for you.

    mudworm

    Ahh… there is someone there who will keep me honest. I was so close to cleaning Anza/Jackson. Oh, so close! It does take a lot of focus to ride it in one shot without any goofs, doesn't it?

    Roy

    Ooo. I hope you weren't bragging about cleaning it. I hope I didn't let any cats out of bags, etc. It isn't easy. It took me a long time to do it. It seems like there is always something to throw you.

    mudworm

    Close, but not yet. I'll get it clean. Hopefully sooner than how long it took you. ;-) (No, I'm not competitive!)

    mudworm

    Oh, BTW, I did ride on Guy Fawkes Day, so it's not all bad. :mrgreen:

    Roy

    I hope you brought fireworks to celebrate.

  4. Alison Chaikenon 06 Nov 2009 at 4:48 pm

    So sorry to learn that you are still laid up, Mei. Is there any reason to suspect rheumatoid arthritis? I feel compelled to mention that my brother has had problems with gout, even though he exercises as much as you and me and is a vegetarian. Recently I had a routine physical for my new job and was told that (squeamish alert) my urine is unusually alkali. Could that be related to gout, I wonder? Or sports drinks? The physician told me that in most ways (e.g. HDL cholesterol), I am one of the healthiest patients she's ever seen, but I do wonder if lots of exercise can take a toll in unusual ways.

    mudworm

    Among many possibilities that my podiatrist listed after seeing no stress fracture, one was gout, but he said if I did have it, I would be the only pre-menopausal woman who got it. It seems to happen mostly in men and sometimes in post-menopausal women. My labs show high RA factor and very C-Reactive Protein, etc. From reading, my understanding is there is no simple criteria that a physician can use to decide if some condition is arthritis and which type (among 100+ types). It takes time… I'm reading the Paleo Diets for Athletes, and I would think it's a good thing that your body is alkali because the muscle wastes are acidic.

  5. Alison Chaikenon 06 Nov 2009 at 5:26 pm

    My doctor also commented that my creatinine level was high. Reading up on creatinine, I see that a high level can be related to either kidney malfunction or recent muscular stress. I know which choice I'm picking!

    Taking good care of yourself as an athlete is more complicated as we get older. We pay much more attention to diet and exercise than most people, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to understand what your body is trying to tell you.

  6. Jeanneon 12 Nov 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for the blog postings Mei. I can't believe how swollen it was. Did you show the doctor that picture?
    Everyone should know you are back to climbing in the gym and back to kicking my butt. I'm waiting for your clearance to ride Coe, because I want to go with you.

    A new theory just popped into my head. (readers – I thought a bug bite, pinched nerve, now this) A coworker talks about eating gluten-free, and how eating wheat wreaks havoc on her body. I googled gluten/joint pain, and it sounds like it is even possible you had a food allergy, that it can cause joint pain. Think of what you ate that day and the days before.

    mudworm

    Hi Dr. Jeanne, keep the theories coming and one of them may well turn out true. ;-) Yes, I showed the pic to the doctor on my camera. Not sure if he could see well though on that tiny screen. Good point about eating gluten-free. I recently just heard about Paleo Diet, which is a bit more than just gluten free. I have started looking into it. Then I read some "Success Stories" on the site and got motivated. However, sweets are my achilles' heel. It doesn't help sitting right above the best bakery in the area five days a week though.

  7. mudwormon 21 Feb 2012 at 10:22 am

    I read this article recently: Discover which foods and chemical additives cause arthritis inflammation, gout and fibromyalgia pain. Since I'm trying to avoid another episode of what I described in this post , I want to keep the article for reference, so I'm putting it in a comment. In case the article disappears one day, the main foods to watch out for are: Nightshade Vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, and eggplant), Purine-laden Proteins (I don't want to give up red meat though), Wheat and Gluten, Trans Fats, MSG and Artificial Sweeteners.