Hope, In the Midst of Pain

It’s been a difficult summer at our house.  I really haven’t written about it, but I’ll share a few things now.

Eloise, my sweet wife of 42 1/2 years, hurt her knee in late spring (from playing with the grandchildren of course).  It was so painful for a few weeks that she could barely walk, and actually it hurt too much to drive.  Difficult stuff for a very independent woman!  It certainly changed her day to day life, and naturally mine too.

She had begun experiencing wrist and arm pain even before she hurt her knee.  Because she works on the computer so much, we naturally assumed it was carpel tunnel.  But not working on the computer brought no relief.

Her first stop was her internist.  He wasn’t quite sure what the knee injury was, but he recognized the wrists and hands as Rheumatoid Arthritis, and recommended she see both an othorpedist and a rheumatologist.

While waiting to get in to see the orthopedic guy, the knee began to improve.  He diagnosed it as a torn meniscus and prescribed exercise.

While waiting to get in to see the rheumatologist (8 week wait — underserved specialty you know), the pain from the arthritis continued to get worse, and began showing up in more joints.  Almost you name the joint, it was painful.

Eloise is a professor of education, and thankfully had the first part of the summer off.  She had regained her ability to walk and drive by the beginning of July when she began teaching two graduate classes.  While it’s been quite painful, she has taught like a trooper.

Yesterday was a big day.  We got to go see the rheumatologist, praying that she would offer us hope of relief and improvement.  And thankfully, she did exactly that.

From across the room, she told us that there was no doubt that Eloise had rheumatoid arthritis.  Her physical exam revealed that it is affecting most joints — not a surprise to us.  But it was great to receive a definitive diagnosis, to know that treatment could begin, that relief was on its way.

The most encouraging thing to hear was the doctor saying, “My goal is to help you get back to 100%, and I have every confidence that we’ll be able to do just that.”  She talked to us about treatment plans, what the starting point would be, and how we could expect things to progress.  The plan included some things that would help in the short term while the meds that will control the RA begin to work.

Eloise asked for and received a handicapped tag.  Those of you who have watched her trying to get around have no questions about her need for one.  But the doctor told her that it would only be a temporary tag because she was going to get better and not need it.

Hope.  It’s a huge thing.  Eloise doesn’t feel better today physically, but she certainly does emotionally because of hope.  We’re thankful beyond words.

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