I haven’t been asked this question yet, at least not in this exact way. But I’ve been thinking a lot about it, reading about, researching it. The two biggest diseases that affect me are fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Both diseases are invisible (usually), both diseases are hard to diagnose, both diseases are chronic, both diseases are without a cure. Both diseases are highly misunderstood. Both diseases cause pain and fatigue. Having them together is like a double whammy of pain.
Fibromyalgia is essentially wide-spread pain. They don’t know what causes or really much about how it works. But some believe that it is a disease in which the sufferer experiences pain in ways that are different than normal people. So, for example, when a normal person has a tender points exam at the dr, they will feel someone applying pressure to their arm or their leg. For me, that exam is like being punched. It hurts. Some days it hurts to be touched in certain places. Some days it hurts to lift my arms. Besides pain, fibromyalgia causes lots of other fun stuff: sleeplessness, fatigue, fibro “fog” (memory difficulties), hyper-sensitivity to sounds or smells or heat/cold, depression, anxiety, painful periods. You get the picture.
I am actually fortunate that I was diagnosed so quickly for this, and doubly fortunate that the first drug we tried for it has seemed to help tremendously. My body doesn’t hurt quite to the same level it did before I started Lyrica.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It many ways it is similar to osteoarthritis pain and swelling in the joints, morning stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the wearing away or degeneration of the joints. About.com calls it the most common form of arthritis. I have it in my lower back. On the other hand, about.com is right when they call RA the most disabling form of arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body is attacking itself. In the case of RA, it means your body is specifically attacking your joints, but it doesn’t stop there. Nope, RA can attack your heart and your lungs. RA can leave you disfigured and disabled in a much quicker fashion than you’d think. There’s a great idea floating around at RA Warrior that RA shouldn’t be called Rheumatoid Arthritis because the word arthritis gives a misconception. Instead, it should be called Rheumatoid (RAD). See here: http://rawarrior.com/we-refuse-to-be-mislabeled-updating-rheumatoid-arthritis-ra-to-rheumatoid-autoimmune-disease-rad/
So, that’s what’s wrong with me. At least so far. The extra fun bonus of RA (RAD) is that once you have one autoimmune disease, you seem to be more susceptible to others. And then there’s the fun of crazy side effects from medicines. But that’s a rant for another day.