I had my first appointment with a rheumatologist this week. I was referred by my endocrinologist, as she suspect that I have another autoimmune illness that hasn’t been identified yet. Since I complained of joint and muscle pain, she thought rheumatology would be the correct department.
I first met with a resident who took a very long time going over my entire medical history, went over what little I did know of my family medical history and all of my symptoms. I had taken some picture showing muscle inflammation and bruises. He examined all my joints and my muscle strength or lack thereof.
I was afraid that my symptoms didn’t make sense and that he would think I was making it up. Earlier in life, when my asthma first started, there were many medical professional who questioned my sanity, asked my parents if there was any problems at home, asked if I was trying to grab attention. I was even told by a doctor that I needed to learn how to breath properly because girls all want to make themselves look pretty and refuse to take big breaths. The asthma attack grew worst and someone finally took me seriously and with the proper testes, it was clear that I had asthma. This fear of not being taken seriously has stayed.
The resident took all his notes and went to see the rheumatologist, who after a long wait both came back to talk with me. After reviewing my case, they are thinking that I may have more than one unidentified autoimmune illness. She asked me a few more questions, examined my skin (and found things I didn’t even notice) and then told me she would run a battery of tests to help determine what’s wrong. She explained that many autoimmune illness have similar symptoms making it difficult to pinpoint. It could also be my Graves Disease, even though stable, causing trouble. She explained that it would take about 2 months to get all the testing done and she wants me during that time to keep a pain journal in which I write down every little thing even if it doesn’t seem important and take pictures of anything strange or different. She also asked that I find out my family medical history in more detail for the next. In 2-3 months when we meet again, she will take the test results, my pain book with all of the detailed information and pictures and she would sit down with a few doctors and go over my case. She assured me that they would get to the bottom of it all. She explained that in their domains it is normal to have a-typical symptomatic people and it’s their job to make sense of it all.
Although it will be at least 2-3 months of fact gathering before they even start the diagnosis process, I still felt like bursting with happy tears. They are taking me seriously.