The family connection

10Jul09

My grandmother just turned 75 years old a few weeks ago. She has been pretty healthy, but recently her hands have started swelling. She even got to the point where she didn’t reply to my emails because her hands hurt so bad.

When I found this out, I immediately told my mother to get her an appointment with a Rheumatologist. Apparently her doctor had told her that she had gout, although she had a strange reaction to the meds.

I grew up in a very small town that did not have a Rheumatologist. The nearest ones, of which there were two, was 90 miles away. Two weeks ago, my grandmother went to my very first Rheumatologist and lo and behold, she was diagnosed with RA. They’ve put her on the exact same medications I started on and she is doing much better.

When I told one of my friends they said, “oh I’m sorry.” I would think something like this would hit me hard, but it didn’t. I mean, I knew that RA was on my mother’s side of the family. It never occurred to me that it was on my father’s side as well, but it makes sense.

And considering my grandmother’s age, I think she’ll do okay. They caught it early and she will be on the medications she needs to live comfortably. It appears it is a less severe case than mine, which seems typical when diagnosed much later in life.

But it is strange to suddenly go from being the only one in your immediately family with this disease to sharing the burden.  At least she’ll have me to walk her through it, that was something I never had and would have appreciated.

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