After 10 years I’m having my first arthritic flare which I am categorizing differently than my regular MCTD flares and I’ll explain why. Having arthritic flares is not uncommon when dealing with MCTD but the damage is more permanent than a regular flare. With regular flares for me they come in fast and leave just as fast leaving me exhausted from pain, nausea and an incredible sense of being knocked in the head hard with bouts of brain fog and loss of words. Now my arthritic flare isn’t like that, instead it crept up in the form of a swollen fingers and toes and over a period of a week I felt my rings getting tighter and my ability to make fists with my hands decreased over a week’s time. That might seem quick to some people but for me that is a gradual symptom I have not experienced before. Swollen hands, fingers and feet are not unusual but not being able to get them back to normal is what is unusual this time around.
I was going to see my Rheumy last week so before I went and had all my rings resized I wanted to see if this was permanent or not. I explained that I have increased my time in the Bikram studio and drinking more dandelion tea in order to get the fluid off and he gave me an unexpected blow that this is not fluid retention but this is an actual arthritic flare in which my tissues are damaged and causing growth in my finger joints. After I had a moment to get over my shock we discussed my options. The most obvious are to increase prednisone yet again and see if that inflammation will decrease, try some different medications all together or move south. The last one might sound like a joke but the truth is my doctor recommended moving to warmer climate and soon. This is a topic that of course pops up from time to time with my husband and me. We do believe our long term plan is to move south to warmer climate but I have strong family roots in Maine and two incredible nephews that I can’t imagine not seeing on a regular basis.
It looks like I’m back to options 1 or 2 again. Trying new medications come with risks; will they work, what are the side effects, what are the long term effects, how will I feel, how will I have to change my current routine, is the medication switch permanent? These are the questions I ask myself and my doctor. Once we establish some of this information it seems the wisest thing for me to do is up my prednisone. I know the effects, I understand the differences and it is not a permanent change, so that is what I decided.
I started taking the papaya supplement but it hasn’t been too long yet so I’m not ruling it out but what I have found thus far is that it hasn’t really helped my hands by my stomach feels so much better. With the medications I take and the damage to the stomach lining I have bouts of nausea and cramps as well as bloating and this has really helped that greatly. They are chewable tablets so it almost feels like taking antacids but they taste way better. I have not need any Prilosec since I started taking them and in general I find them a good supplement to add into my daily routine. Over time if I get relief with my hands I will be thrilled so I’ll keep taking them to see what happens.