My battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren's Syndrome, Thyroid Disease, and Fibromyalgia
I was employed at the job I had always dreamed of having. I began working with the elderly in 2009 while doing home health care. After doing home health care for about a year, I had the desire to take my job further and found a company in my area that assisted in the costs of college for their employees and decided I wanted to be a nurse. In order to get my foot in the door so to speak, I gained employment in the food service department. I never had the desire to stay there in the beginning, but not long after I started I began to realize there were opportunities for advancement in this department as well. I began doing dishes and cleaning everything from dishes to tables and to the kitchen. It was not the most glorious job but neither was home health and that was not why I was there. Getting the chance to interact with the residents was the icing on the cake so to speak. I began to realize their meals was something that gave them a reason to look forward to getting out of bed. Something I truly began to understand as time went on. So I decided to put the nursing on hold and try for a management position which would take time, hard work, and some college education.
I was promoted to a cook, then head chef, and then transferred facilities to train under another Certified Dietary Manager that I respected. Shortly after my transfer, I was awarded a full scholarship to get my CDM (Certified Dietary Manager) degree. I was estatic! I would soon have a salaried position with benefits and my own food service department to run. It was job security and I got to see the residents everyday. I began to notice some pain and swelling in my hands as my first symptom. Since I had Carpal Tunnel Surgery previously, my first visit was to my orthopedic doctor. I used my hands in excess on a daily basis and thought maybe the condition had returned. I received trigger point injections first to no avail. My general practitioner decided to do some more detailed bloodwork which came back with the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. My heart sank. I was referred to a Rheumatologist and began treatment. I was unable to tolerate the initial medication. All the while my symptoms were worsening.
After a few months of excruciating pain and coming home from work in tears, I knew I was going to have to put in my notice at work. I was no longer able to perform as I needed to do. My last day came within weeks of my first day of classes and an interview for a management position at a brand new facility. After about a year of trying various pills for my condition that had now caused pain in various parts of my body including my legs, ankles, and wrists, I began injections at home, then chemotherapy infusions every month. At this point I was only able to leave the house in a wheelchair. The infusions got me out of the wheelchair, but everyday I seemed to have a new symptom. Excessive dry eyes and mouth led to the diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome. This now at forty has caused me to have ALL my teeth extracted and dentures after a lifetime of proper dental care. My most recent diagnosis is Fibromyalgia. I walk with a cane most of the time. I ride the motorized cart at Wal-mart. I am in a considerable amount of pain daily. I have been on chemotherapy for almost three years.
If you have never heard of the Spoon Theory, it basically says those with chronic illness are allotted a specific amount of spoons daily. You use too many spoons in a given day and then you are home bound the next day. I constantly find myself trying to be "normal" and using too many spoons. I pray for the day I don't have to count them.