How My Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis Put My Body Under Constant Surveillance
My rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis has my body under constant surveillance. I am so observant of what is going on with my body because of it. I constantly assess how I’m feeling. Stiff? Sore? Fatigued? I ask myself questions to determine if my body is signally a change in my disease status.
Because I’m dealing with a serious disease, my plan is be aggressive and proactive with treatment. That means being nimble and able to change courses quickly.
So, what does this constant surveillance look like. It has two parts. The first is what my doctor monitors. The second is what I monitor between appointments to know if what I’m doing is working and then to give as accurate report as possible at the appointment.
What The Doctor Monitors:
At this point I am getting routine lab draws and ultrasound readings of certain joints prior to my appointment to give a peek at what is going on around the joint. I am as interested in this information as my doctor is.
As a result of these tests, I am comforted to know my kidney and liver are monitored. It is comforting to know my blood counts and inflammatory markers are being routinely looked at. This lowers my stress level concerning my disease.
My doctor inspects my joints by feeling if they are warm and if they are swelled. She also feels how my appendages are moving around. This is all important information to indicate if the disease is active and how it physically exerts effect on the joint.
What I Monitor:
Because my body indicates disease activity by pain level, swelling, stiffness and fatigue, that is what I focus on.
Do I wakeup with stiff fingers? Or legs? What about pain when I move or touch the joint? How am I feeling in general are all questions I constantly ask myself.
If I’m stiff or feeling pain I ask myself the 5 questions corresponding with my *FRESH* acronym. What did I eat? Have I had 7 to 8 hours of good sleep, and if not, has it been due to discomfort or tending to our sweet pup. I take note if there is a lifestyle habit I can attribute the symptom to. If it persists, the doctor will know.
Fatigue is a huge indicator of systemic inflammation. I can tell my level of fatigue by how much I accomplish and if I am interested in a new project around the house. I keep a running tab on if I’m feeling under-the-heap or setting goals.
Why this matters
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is progressive and potentially very destructive. It is systemic, therefore can cause problems with other organs, such as the heart. Employing a constant surveillance of how I’m feeling allows me to better catch any changes with the disease to better manage it, therefore helping to slow or prevent further damage to my body.
I’d love to hear of your tips to do a constant surveillance of the body. Please leave a comment to share your wisdom!
Take good care.
photo credit: Chris Yang of Unsplash