Reactive

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.

14 thoughts on “Reactive

  1. Perhaps eating the proper diabetic diet and losing some weight can change your glucose levels. I had a friend that did that and the blood levels went down to a safe range. I don’t know 🤷‍♀️ for sure I’m not dr

    Liked by 2 people

    • My T2D is basically “controlled” between meds and watching my sugar/carb intakes. Losing weight is always beneficial, but not always feasible due to the way the body handles things (it’s NOT a simple caloric balance equation, contrary to popular belief) and, at my age, more difficult than one would like to believe.

      I’ve been working on solving my t2d harder than most people do since the diagnosis, and there’s not a single fix that works for everyone, unfortunately; and I haven’t found a solution yet (for me). And I’ve been digging hard into the bleeding edge science of the whole thing (I’m a scientist) and there are more questions than answers out there. The historic solutions are often as bad as those for my RA, and lead to an eventual crash of the system. The newer solutions (of which I’m involved with) are gentler on the body and more sustainable, but not always effective. Or, as is the case with keto or intermittent fasting, not sustainable over the long term. If I never each cauliflower or broccoli again, it will be too soon. Even bacon (of all things) has lost it’s appeal for me and used to love bacon. And I got tired of feeling hungry most of the time (fasting). Both kicked it, but then became cumbersome (and that’s being kind).

      Now that we’re past our heat wave, I expect to hit the bike a little harder, which should help, but I also recognize that it is not gone, even if my glucose goes to normal levels and appears to be in remission. It’ll be a constant battle until I die.

      Liked by 2 people

        • I didn’t read it like that — it’s just a lot more complicated than people think and I wanted to explain just how complex this problem is that most people (including doc) don’t understand at all.

          More often than not, patient-shaming by professionals is go-to “solution” rather than undertaking a meaningful understanding of the complexities involved.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I’m luck my GP listens (I never feel like I’m on the production line, if you know what I mean) and actually gives my options in how to proceed. I get blood work from the lab and they indicate norms and where mine is. So I like that.

            Liked by 2 people

            • I left a few GPs who made me feel that way. That’s actually why I left the first RA doc — in and out on his schedule (often very late) and he showed no interest in my condition or changing things up. I gave him 9 years to fix my pain and moved on when it became apparent that he didn’t much care to fix it.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Finding a caring doctor isn’t easy. I had a pulmonary doctor that loved, he cared about your physical problems but also always asked about your mental well-being, I cried when he told me he was leaving to go work at low income community clinic (I didn’t qualify to go there).

              Liked by 1 person

            • I had a similar experience. Awesome infectious disease/Internal Med doctor, went out of his way to listen to me and even trusted me to behave with muscle relaxants (gave me an Rx for a ton of them) because he knew I was a drinker, not a drug abuser, got me a HepB vax before it was commonplace… And then he was fired for a flaw in some HR documentation.

              As far as I know, he went and dedicated 100% time treating AIDS patients at a time when no one would go near them.

              He was independently wealthy and donated all of his physician income to AIDS research and hospice care (he didn’t announce this, but it got out). I miss that man.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Over here (in the UK) your lucky to even get a phone consult with a GP let alone an appointment. Everything now is diverted to hospital emergency departments, that’s I’d you can get past the receptionists (many of whom think it’s their decision as to what treatment you might need). Rant over. Hope you’re OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rant away. I think more people need to realize that universal healthcare is not the utopian ideal they make it out to be. I’m not against the idea of healthcare for everyone, but stories like yours and others are perfect examples of why it doesn’t quite work like how it says on the label in every implementation.

      But people don’t want to see it that way here in the US. They think it just works because they say it should without considering the cases where it is less than ideal.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree, however the cost of medications is outrageous. I use a monthly inhaler it costs over $200 even with my insurance. Also the premium you pay is based on what medications you take on a regular basis. The cost of my medication won’t go done until the patient expires, then they can make a generic version. What ticks me off is that these are funded by taxpayers, yet we get no return for our investment. Okay I’m done with my rant. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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