I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great Rheumatologist. Dr. Nancy Scheinost is the fourth Rheumatologist I have gone to, and she has done the most to curtail my level of pain and improve the quality of my life. I wish I had found Dr. Scheinost sooner, as I might have been able to avoid the crippling deformities to my hands and feet. Dr. Nancy takes a whole body approach to treatment, such as a blood test that showed I was very low for vitamin D. ( No other doctor has ever checked my vitamin D level.) Since I started taking the vitamin D supplement, my health in general has improved, I have more energy, and even had improvement on my osteoporosis bone density test.
Dr. Scheinosts’ office is located in Bryan TX about 150 miles away. It’s a long drive, but the regular schedule is once every three months. It is more than worth the drive, (6 hours round trip), to have a caring, progressive person taking care of me. Rheumatologists are scarce to begin with but that doesn’t mean you should settle for someone who you don’t have complete confidence in. RA is a lifelong disease with many ups and downs, so you really need someone who you feel completely comfortable with.
I was diagnosed in June of 1996 with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I don’t pretend to know how everyone with RA feels, and will only tell you about my own experiences with this disease. My RA started out with a stiff and swollen finger. This came and went without concern for more than two years. An episode with the swollen finger progressed to several fingers being involved and lasted for several weeks and spread to my wrist and other joints becoming stiff or sore. I went to the Doctor and was diagnosed with a blood test.
In the summer of 2004 my husband was replacing some shingles on the roof of our detached garage and when he finished he complained about his feet really hurting. I thought the pain was coming from his toes being bent, standing on the pitched roof, but after a day or two his feet were OK. A couple of months later he start complaining about his wrists hurting. At the time, Walt was building a lot of custom computers for our business, (ICE Computer) and used his hands in a twisting manner.
After repeated flareups with his wrists he went to the doctor several times and asked if it was arthritis, thinking it was osteoarthritis from wear and tear. In his younger days he was an ASE certified mechanic and had also done construction work for a long time, but the doctor was convinced he had carpel tunnel syndrome. After six weeks of self paid hand and wrist therapy he had no improvement. Finally it dawned on us that maybe he should be tested for RA, so he insisted on the RA factor blood test and lo and behold it was positive. Not all people with RA will show positive on the blood test, but all people with a positive test do have RA.
I now tell everyone I meet that has similar complaints to have the RA factor blood test as a precaution. The moral of the story is sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and become more pro active in your own medical care.