Hello and Welcome,
Who am I… and why am I here?
My name is Teresa Thomas Bohannon.
I am one of the many people who was merrily going along their way in life only to one day find out that I had been stricken with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has been eight years now, and for the most part I have been one of the lucky ones…if there is such a thing when it comes to a disease that can and often does destroy organs and eventually lives. I’m still here, and to the eyes of most people I look amazingly hale, hearty and healthy. My family knows different, of course, as do a few close friends and more observant associates and co-workers. I make no secret of it, but I don’t talk about it much either, but if you watch closely you will see the painful movements anytime I sit, or work, or type, or rest, or keyboard, or walk too long.
It all started a few years back when my joints started swelling and aching and I found that I had so little grip in my right hand that I could barely stand to turn a doorknob, and actually did not have the strength to do so in most cases. My doctor and I thought it was merely early onset arthritis and so I began taking a miracle prescription that eased the pain and all was well for about a year. Then the news came out that the miracle prescription created all sorts of nasty little problems like heart and liver failure and so I stopped taking it, and just started getting by on over the counter aspirin and Tylenol.
At that time, there had been, for several years, on the back of my right hand, what the old-timey people used to call a Bible Cyst. It basically is a fluid filled lump that grows and recedes depending on how much you use the muscle involved. In my case since I was already working heavily on the web and computers in general–as an adult student, author, web-designer and dedicated gamer–my cyst almost always stayed engorged to a greater or lesser degree depending on how many deadlines I had going at any given time. Of course, the greater it grows, the more stress is created on the the skin and the underlying nerves and muscles and the greater the degree of associated pain.
The reason these cysts are referred to as Bible Cysts is because traditionally the quickest way to deal with them has been to catch the suffer unawares and whack it with the biggest book in the house…which in the case of many homes is the Family Bible. I say unawares, because usually this remedy is only employed when the cyst is already so engorged that it is about as painful as a person can bear. As you might imagine whacking it with a huge book is not particularly pleasant either. It fact the reaction is almost Tom and Jerry cartoonish since it usually elicits and loud “Yikes!” or “Yowlllll!” or other choices words as the newly healed dances around the trying to take their mind off of the sudden transition from dull, throbbing continuous pain to a sharp, knife stabbing style attack on the senses.
At any rate, my Bible Cyst lead to the discovery that I was in fact suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. About ten years ago my Bible Cyst took a growth spell and acquired a size that was really quite gross and disgusting in appearance and quite magnificent in size. It was not a particularly pretty sight. I am not a particularly vain person, and even less so about my hands, but I can pretty much guarantee you that very few women would like to walk around with a humongous, fluid filled cyst sitting on top of their hand, and neither did I. This time was different however, before I could always back off on my keyboarding and using the mouse and gently massage the lump away–-this time it was not going anywhere and in fact seemed to be growing more aggressively.
My lightning fast son the martial arts teacher decided to relieve me of my painful burden one day and asked me to lay my hand down flat on the table so he could see how big it actually was. Foolish creature that I was, it never occurred to me that he would coldly, callously and cruelly take matters into his own hands for my own good–-but he did. Before I had time to even think or withdraw, he did a powerful palm strike on the back of my hand and flattened the cyst…thereby, of course, leading me to do the aformentioned combination War Cry and Bursted Bible Cyst dance.
The odd thing is, he really did me a favor. My Bible Cyst came back just as bad if not worse because just as it had the last time it did not recede on it’s own no matter how much I gently tried to break it up by massaging it, or no matter how much I babied my hand…but this time instead of going the home remedy route I went to see the Doctor. He then referred me to a surgeon, who made an appointment to remove it. The surgery was performed under General Anesthesia and so I still recall to this day the moment after the Surgeon sliced it open and said, “This is no cyst. It’s Rheumatoid Arthritis. Take a biopsy and have it confirmed and then refer her to a Rheumatologist.”
And so eight years later here I am, mostly hale and hearty and healthy on the surface–one of the lucky ones because there is some factor in my blood that makes me one of the people who are less likely to be horribly crippled by the disease–-but still having to deal with a life filled with medicines that create nausea and threaten my eyesight…and a daily dose of pain and fatigue that has seemed to intensify over the past two years. I read once that within twelve years of initial diagnosis the disease will progress to the point that it takes over your life…I now believe that.
Thus, this blog. I set up RSS feeds to keep track of breaking news and other items of interest to RH sufferers; because that is the best part of the web and it’s original intention, sharing education and information. If you are one that suffers from RH or just know or love someone who does…Welcome. I hope that you will find something of use here.
Smiles…and Good Health,
Teresa Thomas Bohannon