This morning I rolled out of bed, stood up, and immediately stumbled. Excruciating pain shot from my left ankle. Gritting my teeth, I hobbled to the bathroom.
On Thursday, October 15th, I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis. After eight years of pain and searching and tears, I finally got my answer. My rheumatologist thinks that, after a few months on Sulfazine, this disease should be gone completely. Honestly, I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m just happy to have answers.
I got the news right before going away for the weekend with Mike. I did some research on reactive arthritis, but it was kind of confusing because most of the information out there is about reactive arthritis caused by STD. As far as I know, I’ve never had an STD, and still get tested regularly. I love and trust my husband, but you just never know in this world.
This AAFP article on reactive arthritis was pretty interesting:
Reactive arthritis usually occurs following an infection in a genetically susceptible person. Over two thirds of these patients are HLA-B27 positive. Those who are negative frequently are positive for cross-reacting antigens such as B7, B22, B40 and B42.8 A recent study9 found a similarity between some peptides found in gram-negative organisms and peptides that are in the binding site of the B27 molecule.
I am seronegative, which means I don’t have the HLA-B27 and my sed rate is normal. I do occasionally have a borderline double stranded DNA. I’m definitely curious to see if I have B7, B22, B40, or B42.
I’m still learning about this disease. I suspect that the mono I had as a teenager caused my reactive arthritis, because the timing is perfect and I’ve had no other major illnesses. But somehow I think we’ll never know. The important thing is that Sulfazine is helping and I’m able to do things like climb stairs. Small victories, you guys.
I thought that I’d feel better once I got a diagnosis, and I do. I still have pain. I still have bad days and nights. Jury’s still out on whether this will actually go away. If it doesn’t, I think I can be at peace with that. I’ve had eight years to get used to the idea of forever. But I am more at peace knowing that this wasn’t all in my head, that it’s a real illness. Now that I can say, with confidence, that I have arthritis, I feel so much better.