I had my visit with the Rheumatologist today. It's the first time I've seen one in perhaps 7 years? It was a long time coming. She took a thorough history and did a basic examination on me, looking at my joints and various tests.
My main concern over the past year has been the fatigue, body aches at night which cause me to have trouble going to sleep and my concentration. The concentration problem as been a huge concern for me. It takes me weeks to finish a book because most days I can only read about 5-10 pages at a time. On a good day I can get almost 50 pages read and that is awesome. I am constantly second guessing myself at work because I feel so foggy a lot of the time that I convince myself I have done the wrong thing. It's mainly things with entering things into the computer; not really the main part of my job. My memory used to be so sharp and now I have to make sure I write things down when I remember. The other thing I have noticed if I want to say something and I have trouble remembering a word, I actually have to picture the word in my head before I will be able to say it. It is incredibly frustrating. I don't think it is noticeable to the person I am talking to but it can be a huge effort for me to have a conversation, especially if I am asked something. There are rare occasions that I will have a good day and feel awesome. They are few and far between but when I do have them I remember the day very clearly. On those days I actually feel invincible. I feel bright, free of tiredness, excited, very clear headed. I feel like I could fly almost! The last time I had one of those days was last year in September. I actually still remember the one day about 17 years ago I woke up and felt amazing! I had a long sleep and woke up feeling full of beans, ready to just jump out of bed and tackle the day. I wish I could have those days more often than once every few years.
One thing I did remember to ask her was about diet and autoimmune diseases. I have read in a few places that nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes, eggplant, potato) are bad for people that have inflammation based health problems such as arthritis and lupus. My rheumatologist said there is no truth to this claim so I am able to eat these vegetables freely which is wonderful news. Eggplant happens to be one of my favourite vegetables!
The outcome of the visit was that she thinks I'm in the group of people that have Lupus but do not have the full blown disease of organ involvement etc. but do have chronic low grade inflammation that causes the symptoms I am having. I certainly am thankful that I don't have the disease that bad and am able to work, go to the gym and function day to day. I have been prescribed hydroxychloroquine 400mg per day and ibuprofen as needed. I currently take ibuprofen most days to get to sleep. The bonus was I got them on prescription so I got a huge packet (180 x 200mg pills) for $3! The hydroxychloroquine is slow acting so will take about 3 months to kick in but I am hoping it will improve how I am feeling day to day. I am especially hopeful that my mind will clear up and I won't feel so much like a fumbling idiot.
Finally, I do think that lately these symptoms I am having are having a big effect on my motivation and training. As I am so fatigued most days I do have to force myself to go to the gym. The interesting thing is, unless I have having a particularly bad day, I am still able to perform in the gym. Like I said to my rheumatologist today, although I am less active than I used to be, I can actually do the activity but it takes a lot of willpower to get up and do it. Finding that willpower every time I need to go to the gym is exhausting in itself. Imagine having to fight yourself every time you needed to go to the gym. Ugh. I want the days back where I wanted to go.