Monday, December 8, 2008

When Life Takes a Turn

Well, I haven't posted much lately. That's because a lot of things have been going on including preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, my 20 year High School Reunion, Christmas shopping, Holiday parties, blah, blah. I don't mean to sound flippant but in the grand scheme of doesn't seem all that important right now.

It all began, about 3-4 months ago when my identical twin sister, Regina (Reg) was experiencing all kinds of weird pains in her body. It first started out as a pain in the shoulder. Doctor thought it was strained muscle and prescribed physical therapy. Then her foot hurt. Doctor took x-rays and thought there was a fracture; nothing was found wrong. Then it was her neck, elbow, jaw, hands, feet and so on. Her family doctor couldn't figure it out and finally sent her to see a Rheumatologist...after all, all her pain was stemming from her joints.

2 Weeks ago, Reg called me at work. She had just seen the doctor and was upset. The Rheumatologist had rattled off a number of things it could be including Lupus to Lime disease to Rheumatoid Arthritis. The doctor took numerous tests and told her to come back after Thanksgiving for the diagnosis. As we discussed the different possibilities, none of the options sounded very good at all. I told her to "hang in there, and let's see what the doctor has to say". I'm sure it wasn't easy to wait, not when a dark cloud seemed to be hovering over her head.

Again, Reg called me after her doctor's appointment, this time with more definitive news. She was upset and rightfully so...the doctor diagnosed her with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is a chronic disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy joint tissue. As the disease progresses it can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, deformity, and disability. It also can be harmful to internal organs such as your heart and lungs. It is hereditary.

At 38 years old, she learned that she was going to have to fight and deal/cope with a potentially debilitating disease for the rest of her life. Like me, she doesn't like to take any drugs--meaning the prescribed kind, if she can help it. We both avoid medications at all costs. It would have to take a lot for me to pop a Tylenol and I know she's the same way. So when the news came that she would have to deal with pain on a daily basis and be on medication possibly for the rest of her life, she cried. "I'm sorry, Reg" was all I could muster.

Reg is in great shape and works out all the time. She told me that the 10 or 15 lbs weights she normally uses during her workouts have been replaced with 5 lbers. And even with that weight, it wasn't easy for her. Over the weekend, she must have rattled off 5 areas of her body that was in pain including her jaw. She was having a hard time eating, sleeping and generally just doing day-to-day chores. After this weekend, she had made the decision to start an aggressive drug treatment of steroids combined with another powerful drug to combat the RA.

And so today, she began the treatment. This blog is for my wonderful twin sister and my lifelong best friend. I vow to be there for her every step of the way.

Reg--you are the greatest and I love you...


Calyx Meredith said...

Oh! My heart goes out to you and your sister! (Seventeen years ago I was given a similar battery of tests and confusing diagnoses. After more than two months, I was told it was "almost definitely" RA. (All the titer (sp?) tests but one said so.) I was 23. It turned out that they were mistaken and I was having an incredibly uncommon reaction to pregnancy that mimicked RA. But those months of pain, and the warning that I have the predisposition to develop full blown RA at some point later in my life changed the way I look at the world.)

You two will both be in my thoughts and prayers as you face this. Your sister is so lucky to have such a staunchly supportive person in her corner.

IronSnoopy said...

I'm so sorry to hear this! I'm thinking of both of you.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Hugs to you and Reg!!!

Chi Roach said...

Hey there, so sorry to hear about your sister! That disease runs in my family as well, but I always thought (hoped) I heard that regular exercise actually helps with the disease? Maybe try holistic doctors, yoga, etc too? I'm sure there are many things you'll both be learning about it, I wish you both the best of luck! I know the day will come when running might have to stop...and it'll be a sad day for me!