Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Brave Sister

My older sister Lauren is a mother to 3 beautiful & bright kids.
She is a supportive wife. She is an athlete. She is a spiritual woman.
She is a fun & understanding sibling. She is unique.
She is amazing.
I love her so.

Recently this 29yr old has been going through some really rough times. I think about her a lot, and my heart breaks for her. I know she is strong. I know she will overcome & tackle yet another mountain. But she is still my sister, so I still worry about her.

Lauren was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (aka RA). An auto-immune disease that is quite similar to Fibromyalgia. (sorry if Im spelling these wrong). She just posted on her blog about it (for those of you who read her blog I'm sure she would love to hear from you! Leave her a comment!)--but I am including part of her post below (it's really long) because I think she can explain her story better. I just wanted to share it with the people I love- I like to know what my family/friends are going through--and this is what my sister is going through...

Dec 18th- the day after my 29th birthday I was at the gym when my wrist started hurting really bad. I am some what of an over achiever at the gym- so I just assumed I had pushed myself too hard during some of my lifts or whatever. So I rested my wrist, for a week. And it just got worse, like a LOT worse. Well, now its the morning of Christmas Eve, and my sweet husband calls me, to tell me, he has made a few calls & got me in to an orthopedic surgeon that DAY! He didn't want to wait one more minute- I was bit embarrassed but agreed to go. To be honest I was a little bugged that Patrick was so worried about me. You see, I always joke that Patrick treats me like I am made of glass. He is always SO concerned about me when I am sick or hurting. It can even come off as extreme at times, like when I am pregnant!! But I guess truthfully I am grateful he takes such good care of me, because heaven knows, I wouldn't do it for myself! I always think its NEVER a big deal (even when it is) if it has to do with myself. Probably because I don't want to be a wimp.

Anyway, that doctors appointment was the first of many. We did x-rays and my medical history, and the doctor noticed symptoms consistent with something called Rheumatoid Arthritis. That prompted MRI's, blood tests, and more Xrays. I came back positive for Rheumatoid Factor- a major indicator that I did indeed have RA. I was referred to a Rheumatologist. Then started even more tests. Blood tests, xrays, sonograms, MRI's, and detailed physical examinations of my joints. Finally in March I was diagnosed with RA. And I have begun the process of finding treatments that might work for me.

Now, I have just told the medical side of the story- unfortunately there is more. And I feel like I am finally just going to tell it all in one place! After my Christmas eve appointment to which I heard that I might have RA. I didn't believe the doctor. AT ALL. Arthritis?? me? I am a healthy 29 year old! It just didn't fit in my brain. And i had never heard of rheumatoid arthritis- so I dismissed it, knowing nothing else about it. But weird things started happening really soon after.

The pain in my wrist started "spreading" to my other wrist. And it increased, for no reason at all. I started hurting in my hands, and in my fingers. in like EVERY bone in my wrist, hand, and all of my fingers on both sides. And the pain would throb up into my forearms too. It was miserable! I started not being able to use my hands at all. To get myself dressed, to hold my baby, to pull the blankets up and over me at night, not even to hold a simple paper back book! It was so painful!
We went back to the doc, and he did more tests, and gave me medicine. So we waited for results, and tried the medicine-and it didn't work AT ALL. It was very discouraging. And the pain increased! and spread some more. Now my elbows hurt, and my shoulders, and my lower back and my hips! It was so weird!!! I started not being able to move in the mornings. I was so stiff, and mostly so so SORE. Fairly soon the pain was in my feet and ankles. Again it felt like it was in EVERY BONE in my foot, and toes, and ankles. Both sides. It felt almost like my wrists, hands and fingers- now it was just in my feet, toes, and ankles as well!! I stopped being able to walk smoothly, and put weight on my feet at all. And then my spine started.... and it started to hurt between EVERY joint all the way from the base of my skull down through my lower spine. I couldn't move.

Up until then I had kept a fairly good "we are going to figure this out" attitude, but about then I cracked. I am ashamed to say it- but I did. I just started crying so hard. It had been about 6 weeks since that day at the gym! ONLY 6 WEEKS!!! I had gone from running, lifting, and just plain living my life to not being able to move, use my hands, walk, or even get myself dressed alone in only 6 weeks. I was in CONSTANT pain....The pain was so intense. And I was exhausted. I mean, I have been tired before but this was like serious FATIGUE!

I lost my appetite and I had tried different medicines, none had worked, one even caused an allergic reaction as if I NEEDED any more stress at that point. :( I wasn't sleeping well because of the pain. And I wasn't getting out of bed much all day because of the pain. It was taking over everything. I was feeling so hollow- like all of my fire and spunk had gone right out the window, not that I wanted to give up, more like that I had no more fight left in me to stay strong. :(
We still didn't have any answers. From what I knew of RA, it didn't typically come on this fast, and in everything I had read, it didn't seem to be SO wide spread. I was wrong. Apparently in some cases it can be both of those things. These cases sometimes prove to be more severe/aggressive RA than others. I am hoping I am one of the exceptions...

The numbness and tingling in my legs, feet, and in my wrists and hands started in late Feb. and is still a problem. I have lots of times when I am not only dealing with pain, but loss of feeling too. It kind of feels like you have smacked your funny bone as hard as you can, and now have some one step on it while it hurts with all of their weight! It adds a whole different sensation to the pain.
I am still having problems with the pain. It is still in my entire body- most intense in my wrists, hands and fingers- also in my ankles, feet, and toes- and in my spine. The numbness is increasing too. I have been told I can do no physical activity, except in a pool. I am to stay off my feet as much as I can at home. Its kind of slow going but I am holding out hope that it will get better soon.

I am doing my best to stay positive. Some days I do OK. Others I need to work at it a little better. Truth be told- I am starting to forget what it feels like to not hurt all the time. How sad is that?

So sad right? :( She has been trying to be a mama to those 3 kids and do the best she can to be there for Patrick during all of this. I don't know how she does it. I know a few people struggling with similar things, and after reading this long list of symptoms and how exhausting it can be I feel so helpless! I want to fix people! I want to help them in some way! But I guess all (we) I can do is be there and help emotionally-keep them smiling.

I love you L0. Hang in there sis.


Glamour Girl Fitness said...

This is such a great post. It makes me a little teary eyed. I hope that your sister finds something that will help her soon. I have heard that Mat Pilates might help, but working out in general (in a pool) is a great place to start. Here post was so amazing and I will be thinking about her. :)

*juli* said...

I felt like your sister was writing about my own symptoms. I feel so awful for her! I'd like to have a link or an invite to her blog, if she doesn't mind? since we're going through the same thing. I can completely relate to your sister. I had my own little break down on Sunday with a feeling like my life was over. I'll definitely keep your sister and her family in my prayers!

Audrey {+} John said...

That is way sad. Your poor sis! i hope she feels better soon! IT makes you grateful for your health!

the organic kitchen said...

Mari i don't think I ever told you this but Roxann had RA as a child. She missed a year of school. It went into remission and has never returned. I have another friend that was diagnosed in her early 20's. After several very rough years, she too went into remission. Hopefully this will be the case with Lauren. RA is awful. You are a good sister and I am sure your support means a lot to Lauren. That is rough, especially with three little kids.

Sabrina said...

oh my. i'll be thinking of her. i can't imagine having to take care of littles while being in that much pain.

*juli* said...

Thanks, Mari! I really appreciate your support. You're a gem! I'm lucky to know you. :)

Brittany and Johnse said...

SO sad! I teared up! It makes me feel so bad for complaining today about my little fever and the body aches that came with it - when there are people like your sister out there who hurt way worse and more often! She seems like such a strong individual...I am SURE her and her family will get through this. Thanks for sharing!

lauren said...

You all are very sweet! Mari has always had such a tender heart for people who are suffering- so I am not surprised she worries about me. Truthfully, I felt like this post was a bit more whiney that I would like to come accross! :) But I tried to be honest. Thank you all for your kind thoughts on my behalf. :)