I have a thought that has plagued me since I received results of some clinical bloodwork on Tuesday. The more I consider it, the more irritable I get about the revelation — although I will be the first to admit that I am probably jumping to conclusions. But the nagging feeling that I’ve been the subject of a scam of some kind persists.
I’ve not made it any secret that I am diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and type-2 diabetes (t2d), the latter of which was probably helped along to be part of my life quite a bit by my alcoholism. The RA is something I was diagnosed with about 14 years ago, the t2d about 3 or 4 years ago.
I went in for a routine t2d checkup on Tuesday as a prerequisite to getting refills on my prescriptions meant to manage the dysfunction. As part of the discussion, the nurse practitioner asked me about my RA. The thing is, I had a hard time getting in with my RA doc (my second one, incidentally) just prior to the pandemic because she was on light work loads due to recently giving birth, then the pandemic rolled in and I never got around to setting up a visit to get my prescriptions for that filled. When I ran out, I figured, why the hell not see what happened, especially considering that we were in a pandemic and the meds actively suppress my own immune system (RA is your own immune system attacking your body, creating inflammation of the joints). I didn’t want covid to hit me because I was immuno-suppressed. A year later — my condition is not better, nor worse. The same level of pain, in general, as when I was taking meds. So I’ve been working with the idea — screw it, save money on meds that are really toxic and avoid 4-6 more blood draws and about 20 hours of wasted time each year, asking the RA docs to consider changing the program (which isn’t seeming to do much ) and have them tell me that we’re staying the course.
I went on with the NP to say that I’d be curious to see what one of blood markers for generalized inflammation would look like, considering I hadn’t been taking meds for over a year. That test measures the c-reactive protein in the blood. There is another test more specific to RA, but insurance companies tend to balk at it being given too often and CRP is relatively cheap, so they tend to overlook the frequency of the test. She added it to my already drawn blood test orders, curious herself.
I got the results the same day, expecting it to be pretty high, all things considered. It trended near the upper threshold of normal to much higher all these years, even when medicated. Without going down the rabbit hole, than means I was trending around 45-75 while medicated with the normal number being <50. I expected to see at least above 50, considering I have not been managing my RA with medication.
I got high teens. High fucking teens. About as normal as normal can be.
Keep in mind: the reason for my quarterly blood draws for the RA doc were to monitor a number of toxicity concerns due to the immunosuppressant meds I was taking. Liver function, kidney function… I got pulled off of one drug a few years back because my liver numbers spiked insanely high from one test to the next, and I had not been drinking for near 10 years, so it wasn’t the booze. Then there was the additional eye tests because one med can cause blindness in some patients (another hour added to any traditional eye exam). These meds are potentially worse than the disease they are meant to treat.
So — here I am, unmedicated and pulling extremely normal CRP numbers.
And it makes me wonder — was I being groomed to be one of their fucking bread-and-butter patients so they can go on golf holidays?
No one listened to me with the RA docs about how things never seemed to improve. Going further back, I was told my aches and pains in the joints were due to carrying an extra 20 lbs (at the time, it is more now), that I just needed to get insanely thin for my build. One general practitioner laughed at me when I asked if there was test for the pain I was experiencing in my joints — and she shut up quickly when my CRP at the time was 60. Was it the alcohol? I don’t know, but now I wonder if it was something to do with my liver that spiked that high CRP number that turned me into being RA-diagnosed. No one ever even concerned themselves with my alcohol intake other than to tell me I should slow down and I didn’t hide my consumption levels.
I don’t know, but I’m irritated as hell about the past 14-15 years and thinking that maybe I got suckered into this whole BS thing with RA, which may have then pushed me over the edge to t2d with the increased stress on my liver due to the medications and the one, short-lived, steroid I was given that has a known side-effect of increasing blood glucose levels (it was the replacement when my liver numbers spiked and my glucose went from borderline to screaming hot, like about as high as it can go without killing me quickly, that same time period).
And are they pulling the same BS on me with my Type 2 diabetes? One has to wonder at this rate.