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Seriously??

Hey everyone! Let me quickly get you caught up on the last month of “stuff”, and then I will explain the exasperated tone of my post…

First off, my permission to run lasted all of 48 hours. When my orthopedist had more time to think about it, he decided that we needed to find out if the running was causing the high metal levels, since the MRI was inconclusive. So, I got a phone call (luckily just after squeezing in the most lovely 8 mile run) telling me to knock it off. I am, of course, not happy about it, but I want answers and if this is what it takes, so be it. I’ll have my blood work repeated at the end of October, and if it’s still funky they’ll repeat the MRI to see how the fluid on the hip looks. Then I guess we’ll go from there.

The oncologist then weighed in (not directly with me, more in a whisper-down-the-lane kind of way that took 2 weeks) and said he knew of no connections between cobalt and chromium levels and melanoma, and he didn’t see a problem with waiting to see how things shake out. So no insight or clues to anything there.

I then saw my new internist, and first of all let me say how much I LOVE her. I came in and told her everything I had going on and she didn’t put on her Nikes and sprint to the nearest exit. Quite to the contrary, hers was more of a “bring it on” kind of reaction. I like that. After a thorough exam which included an ultrasound of my heart (I don’t know why, but it was cool looking), the most detailed family history I’ve ever been asked to give, and a complete review of my other doctors’ reports, she candidly declared that I was a mystery. Boo. BUT, she wasn’t about to throw in the towel. She ordered a bunch of blood work and told me to see a rheumatologist, and then report back in a month.

A rheumatologist? Oh yes. I’ve neglected to mention it in my posts here, but I’ve been having join pain, stiffness and swelling in my hands and feet for the last 3 months. I totally chalked it up to the metals, since they happened at the same time, and my internist agreed that the timing was suspect. She thought that a rheumatologist might know if there was a metal connection or not. I was game, since it had gotten to a point where I couldn’t make a fist with my left hand (it’s ok, I told people, I punch with my right hand).

I love my rheumatologist. He’s a super great guy, and another one who didn’t run screaming when faced with the task of caring for me. And he has a good sense of humor, which is important to me. However, neither of us were laughing when my blood work came back: I have rheumatoid arthritis.

Hence the title of this post.

I mean really? Is this truly necessary? I kind of thought I had enough going on, but sure, let’s add something else, shall we? Now, the thing about having cancer is that you start to measure everything by “Can it kill me? No? Ok, we’ll deal with it.” This is hardly tragic, but it’s not a tiny thing either. And it’s all complicated by the cancer thing – because a lot of the big guns in the rheumatoid arthritis-fighting arsenal are a little sketchy when it comes to cancer. So I’m going to have to get every RA medication ok’d by my oncologist. I already have a call in to him about 2 meds. We’ll see how many weeks of talking to nurses and assistants it takes to get an answer.

In the meantime, I’m starting on prednisone tomorrow (and very much looking forward to getting thirsty and fat – my previous experience with the drug). If the oncologist is cool with it, we’ll start methotrexate in about 4 weeks, and then see if we need to hit a biologic med or not (but those are the ones that are especially sketchy with the cancer stuff, so we’ll see). If we can treat it aggressively I could even end up in remission for the RA. I would like that.

So the plan is now as follows: start treating the RA, get my scans at Mayo at the end of September (and hopefully see that the tumor is on the run and everything else is clear), go on vacation (yay!), then revisit the hip and metal levels. Oh, and not have anything else come up. Seriously.

That’s the scoop for now. If you’d like to linger in the Land of Jen (and really, who wouldn’t? It’s full of fun and surprises!), I will tell you a little story…. (Or you can be done reading. Really, it’s ok. That other stuff was really long.)

Back to a month ago…

Initially I handled the moratorium on running with a great deal of poise and grace. I should have known something was up right there. But the emotions eventually caught up to me – at 10:30 on the night before I was scheduled for a long bike ride with some girlfriends. My tire wouldn’t pump up, and the more I tried, the more it deflated. I just couldn’t get it to work, and as I began to get more and more frustrated, I had the thought, This wouldn’t be happening if I could run! Aaaaand the next thing I knew I was having a meltdown rivaling that of any petulant two year old. Like a full-on tantrum, complete with wailing and throwing things. So much for poise and grace. Once I pulled myself together enough to determine that the tire was flat (and I have no idea how to change a flat), I had the desperate thought to text my girlfriend Jeannine. She is a dear friend and a hard core runner, and her husband is big time into cycling. Did I mention it was 10:30 on a Saturday night? Yeah. I did that. I asked if I could bring my wheel over, and they graciously agreed. So, at 10:45, I pulled into their driveway, and before I could even exit my car they were out of their house like a pit crew. I stood there with my swollen, tear-stained face and meekly held out my tire, which Marty took and immediately began working on. I turned to Jeannine and just whispered hoarsely, “I can’t run.” She nodded and hugged me, and we stood there silently while Marty finished fixing my flat. And then I was on my way back home, with a repaired wheel and a mended heart. That’s the kind of friends I have: friends who will hug you and love you when you have a flat – knowing all along that it was never about the flat.

So thanks to you all. I am blessed to have your support, love and prayers.

And I hope my next update is really boring. Just sayin’.

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