I went to my new rheumatologist yesterday.   And I survived!

I always get very stressed before seeing a new doctor.  Starting from the beginning, explaining everything, terrified I’ll forget something important, or say something wrong that gives the wrong impression…once a doc has formed an opinion, it’s very hard to shift.

And many, many docs come with the pre-existing opinion that unless your CRP is through the roof, its minor pain that can be cured with an anti-depressant.

My new rheumy is not like that at all.  She looked at my blood work.  She felt my joints.   She looked at my scans.

She said it was quite obvious that I have severe and active Rheumatoid Arthritis.  She seemed quite surprised that anyone could possibly come to any other conclusion…the scans say it all, even if the blood work doesn’t.

She listened to my stories, and I could tell she believed me.  She understood that I am the kind of person that hides my pain, and that I am far too proud to use my walking stick at places where I might run into people I know.  She understood when I explained to her that I was an exercise junkie before I got sick, and I have always worked out my problems in the gym.  So that’s what I still try to do now.  It does NOT mean I am not in pain, or that my rheumatoid arthritis is mild.

She understood that when you live with pain every day, you will endure a little more to be able to do the things that you love…the things that bring you some happiness.

It was quite cathartic to talk it through.  And to have someone listen.  And to have someone care.

So when she prescribed Arava (leflunomide) I agreed to take it.  She explained it was no more likely than any biological to cause the intense emotional side effects that methotrexate caused.  She also explained that there is a washout procedure that can remove the drug from your body quickly, if side effects are severe.

She told me if I take Arava for six months, and it doesn’t help, then she’ll have no problem putting me on a TNF blocker.  But Arava needs to be tried first.

She was so reasonable, so logical, and yet still very empathic, that I agreed, where I have refused to take that drug before.

She allayed my fears, and I trust that she will be there if things go badly.  Its amazing what an empathic approach can achieve.

So I filled the prescription and took my first dose last night.

And now?  Now we wait…