JRA has many mysterious and overlapping symptoms. However, figuring out if your symptoms are related to your JRA, or just typical human being symptoms can be challenging. Having to decipher this puzzle of symptoms your entire life can lead you to become a hypochondriac.
I haven’t always been a hypochondriac. I can imagine that my parents were pretty on top of any swollen joint, cough, cold, pain or symptom when I was child. When my knees were swollen we’d go see my doctor and usually determine my JRA was flaring and try a new medicine. When my eyes got blurry we would see my eye doctor and determine that my uveitis was flaring or during one scary weekend, determine my glaucoma was uncontrolled, leading to emergency eye surgery. When I was feverish and weak one day, I visited my PCP and learned that I had the flu. Recently I had SI joint pain, I thought it was from a fitness injury (that’s what I get for getting in shape) but as it turns out there is inflammation around my SI joints, caused by who knows what. So you can see, typically in the past when I have had a gut feeling something was wrong, it usually was.
Compounding this precedence is my tendency to go to “the bad place,” very quickly. I’m not sure if this is an Italian trait or just me being dramatic. But basically it works something like this… My puppy was lethargic and had a swollen stomach one night, and I went from thinking he had a stomach ache, to a bowel obstruction to a rare fatal dog disease called “Bloat” where their stomach twists in on itself. This happens frequently throughout my life; my husband doesn’t answer his phone in an hour = he’s been kidnapped or is passed out on the floor in a coma, I have stomach pain= I have an ulcer or appendicitis, I have an ingrown toe nail= my toe is going to get infected and cause total body sepsis. You get the point.
I was recently watching the T.V show Scrubs and it was an episode where the attending doctor, Dr. Cox (a very brash, frank, no BS kind of guy) had a baby and was over reacting about a cough. The pediatrician said to him that he has “The Burden of Knowledge,” meaning he knows too much based on his profession and unless he “gets a handle on it” it will torture him. I feel like this is part of my problem. I have had too many personal experiences involving pain or illness leading to actual infection, inflammation or complication that I will forever be sticken with “The Burden of Knowledge.”
However, I know I need to get a handle on this for the sake of any future children. With my developmental and clinical experiences as a pediatric occupational therapist, as well as my personal experiences with JRA, together with my husband’s education as a nurse and nurse practitioner…our future children will stand no chance. Every developmental milestone they don’t reach on time, or symptom that could result in a myriad of illness, I will go to “the bad place.” So how do you rid your memory of a life of symptoms and years of studying and clinical experiences? I am not sure, but I am going to try to find out how…