This is my fight…
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 42 years old. I had lived a normal healthy life with no significant health issues. Then out of the blue things started to change. My feet hurt, my legs looked like sausages from my knees to my ankles, and the pain got so bad in my shoulders and elbows that sleep became increasingly difficult. My hands and fingers hurt and were swollen so badly I couldn’t bend them all the way and the cherry on top of it all – there were times I was unable to tie my own shoes.
My wife convinced me after over a month of sleepless nights and exceedingly longer bouts of pain to see a doctor. We found a highly recommended Rheumatologist and made our initial appointment. I got tested and my numbers for CRP and ESR were off the charts high. We discussed my approach to treatment, and I was adamant that we go as aggressively as possible.
I said, “doc I am young man with a wife and two children, I am not about to stop living now. We need a plan to fight this - hard.”
I started on methotrexate and Celebrex. These helped bring the immediate pain down but did not treat my symptoms as aggressively as we wanted. At my next check-up we added Enbrel to my cocktail and halleluiah our prayers were answered! My symptoms immediately decreased – so much so that I told my doctor I wanted to begin running again. As our family grew, I had taken up distance running as my preferred form of exercise. I liked to joke that it’s cheaper than therapy and more beneficial. I don’t recall the date of that first run, but I can remember that it seemed like all the pa
pain and the anxiety and all the worry started to erode a little as I put one foot in front of the other and as my man Forrest Gump says, “I just kept running.”
My fight includes monitoring my diet, continuing to run (I dropped my half-marathon PR last year 20 minutes!), and continued vigilance regarding my rest/work and travel regime. I have read multiple books about this disease and how diets can help fight symptoms. I have found several diets that have meals and methods that help fight symptoms and keep me fueled for my fight. I take bits and pieces from them all and make my own way through the kitchen and restaurants making the best choices I can based on the situation.
I am 47 and have been living with RA for over five years. I logged over 500 miles in 2018, and plan to hit 1,000 in 2019 – god willing. I am living proof that with the love of my wife, her fierce advocacy on my behalf, and the drive and determination to fight that anything is possible.
I fight for my wife. I fight for my two beautiful children. I fight for the ability to walk my German Shepherd around the block. I fight for my ability to do my job. I fight for me, because it’s my fight, my life, and my story. Most of all I want to tell it to my grandchildren and (hopefully) my great-grandchildren, so today and tomorrow and forever…I fight. #NDCQ #fortheFour
I had been a fan of the show - followed it closely and then started tagging my runs with #NDCQ and #fortheFour - motivation to keep me going and to let everyone know. I AM NOT DONE YET - lots to live for and still a long way to go.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Regards - Rob Frank