Self Care Can be Scary and Unsexy

Hello everyone! I haven’t been here in a month and I’m back to frankly discuss my chronic illnesses- seronegative rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Just for a little info seronegative rheumatoid arthritis is:

“When a patient tests negative for rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibodies, yet they still display strong symptoms indicative of rheumatoid arthritis, they can achieve a diagnosis of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.

The seronegative part means they don’t possess the antibodies that seropositive patients do. Otherwise, seronegative patients may also simply possess extremely low levels of the antibodies – not enough to warrant a seropositive diagnosis.

Many seronegative rheumatoid arthritis patients go on to develop antibodies years after their initial diagnosis. This sometimes causes the diagnosis to change to a seropositive rheumatoid factor or anti-CPP diagnosis.

This is one of the many reasons that a patient can still be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis even if they are seronegative.

Symptoms of Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis

Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis patients must possess a distinct set of symptoms in order to be diagnosed. This is because the lack of antibodies in the blood makes it more difficult to reach a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

Some of the most important symptoms in diagnosing seronegative rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Joint pain, stiffness specifically in the hands but also in knees, elbows, hips, feet and ankles
  • Joint swelling and redness
  • Joint tenderness
  • Symmetrical symptoms and in multiple joints
  • Ongoing inflammation
  • Morning stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes
  • Fatigue
  • Eye redness

Though this is not an exhaustive list, the majority of these will support a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. If we compare these symptoms to seropositive rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, there are many similarities. However, many patients see these symptoms evolve and change over time.

It is thought that seropositive patients experience a more severe disease course than seronegative patients. But studies have also shown that in some patient cases, the progression is comparable and sometimes is there is little difference.” (Source)

And Fibromyalgia is:

“Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.” (Source)

Spoon theory is:

“The spoon theory is a disabilitymetaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. “Spoons” are a visual representation used as a unit of measure in order to quantify how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person “recharges” through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.

This metaphor is used to describe the planning that many people have to do to conserve and ration their energy reserves to accomplish their activities of daily living. The planning and rationing of energy-consuming tasks has been described as being a major concern of those with chronic and fatigue-related diseases, illness, or conditions. The theory explains the difference between those who don’t seem to have energy limits and those that do. The theory is used to facilitate discussions between those with limited energy reserves and those without. Because healthy people typically are not concerned with the energy expended during ordinary tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, the theory helps healthy people realize the amount of energy expended by chronically ill or disabled people to get through the day.

Spoons are widely discussed within autoimmune, disability, mental and other chronic illness online communities, as an emic descriptor. The term spoonie is sometimes used to refer to a person with a chronic illness that can be explained with the spoon theory.” (Source)

Lucky me, I have both! Also, I am garbage at moderation and measuring my spoons. (Gee, who would’ve guessed that someone with a history of extreme dieting would be terrible at moderation?) Sometimes I am an epic fail at acknowledging my limitations- this month was one of those fails. It is ok to fail, you’re not alone. Below is some info on self care, support and just some random love for you. I see you.

<3, Me

The Shitty Side of Self Care

The AMAZING Hannah Daisy and Boring Self Care

National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association

Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Resources

Chronic Illness Support Resources

Coming Out As A Spoonie

RA Infographic

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