Yes, I was gone, thanks for noticing. I wasn't kidnapped by aliens, or Hugh Jackman, either, darn it. The truth is I haven't given a single thought to writing in the last three years.
About a month after I made my last post to this blog rheumatoid arthritis hit my husband Michael (now you know how I came up with my pseudonym) like a brick between the eyes.
One day he was fine, the next he was falling apart. By October he couldn't walk without a walker. He spent Christmas in the hosptial.
The doctors kept looking for cancer. They couldn't find it because it wasn't there. When a neurologist told me that Michael's sediment rate (the number of dead red cells in your blood) was over the moon I knew it was an autoimmune problem.
I was right. I should have gone to medical school. I should also write a book about what Michael went through, but I'd get sued for telling the truth.
Once I got Michael to a rheumatologist his health began to improve. He had surgery on his left hand to reattach the tendons in his fingers that were being severed, one by one, by a bone spur. One genius ER doctor told Michael that the flaming red basketball on his wrist was a skin condition, and he didn't need an x-ray for a skin condition. He's also had both of his hips replaced. He's fine, now, thank God, and our 11-year-old grandson thinks it's totally cool that Grampy has titanium hips like the Terminator.
Three years ago Michael was the healthiest 58-year-old man on the planet. He exercised every day, lifted weights three times a week (the only thing that saved his muscles from atrophy), ate right, didn't smoke or drink, and RA knocked him flat on his back.
From the Mayo Clinic website here are the symptoms of RA:
Joints that are tender to the touch
Red and puffy hands (RA attacks small joints first)
Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on your arms (these are rheumatoid nodules)
Morning stiffness that may last for hours
Michael experienced morning stiffness and wrote it off to this age. (Clearly he missed the 60 is the New 40 Memo.) He ran low-grade fevers and thought he'd over-exercised. His left wrist pained him now and then, and occasionally it was puffy, but again he thought he'd overdone it.
God forbid you should ever experience any of these symptoms. If you do make an appointment and see your doctor. If you don't like what he or she tells you, if it doesn't feel right to you, find another doctor. If you don't like the second opinion ask for a referral to a rheumatologist.
Thanks to those of you who noticed that I was MIA. Now that Michael is well again, lifting weights again, and most important, smiling and laughing again, I'm starting to write again.
Just thought I'd let you know. I'll keep you posted.