When the orthopedic specialist told me he wanted to refer me to a rheumatologist, my first thought was, “how come I’ve never heard of a rheumatologist?” I don’t keep up with the latest medical terminology, but he described this speciality as fairly common. Once again, I decided to go along with the plan. What did I have to lose? And maybe I could gain some more clues for my investigation.
By now, winter was in full force and I had been suffering from knee and joint pain for the last 9 months. Ever since “the incident” I just couldn’t shake the pain so I decided to go see what this latest doctor had to say. I was both excited and hesitant at the same time. I did not quite know what a rheumatologist did, but I knew this was another path for possible answers.
Upon my arrival at the arthritis clinic, I noticed that this place was different. In the waiting room I was surrounded by men and women all twice my age or older. It was then I realized my problems were insignificant compared to the pain they must be suffering. I am so thankful that I have the ability to move around as much as I do. Meeting with the rheumatologist was an event all by itself. Talking a mile a minute, he gave me the rundown of what I may have and exactly what to do about it. Obvously he had been in this business a long time regardless of how new this specialty had been around. I was impressed at how direct and informative he was, yet a little cautious to allow for his remedies. He explained that I did have inflammation in my knees which is indeed arthritis, just not what most people think of when they hear the word. Also explained were possible diseases or conditions I may have and what he would like to test. Answers were what I wanted, so tests I gave them. Before I could leave, I had several more x-rays taken, some of my chest, and a dozen viles of blood extracted from my arm. And here is the best part. After a quick steroid injection in my knee to numb the pain, he took out a large needle and inserted it carefully near my kneecap to extract the mischievous liquid. Meanwhile, he explained how the fluid could come out clear or yellow. My understanding was that clear was good because it meant my body was just healing an injury. Yellow on the other hand was bad because it was full of bacteria. The fluid in my knee: yellow. I felt so discouraged.
At my next visit, I brought my fiancee (she loves to take notes) so I could document any terms or information I might miss. And it was easy to miss. The rheumatologist again spilled out an entire class worth of material to absorb. But this time he had test results. At my previous visit, he gave me a brochure and a possible diagnosis, but the blood work apparently confirmed that I “may” have… get ready for this… seronegative undifferentiated spondyloarthropy. I tested negative for a plethora of diseases and conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout and even a gene marker that can almost certainly associates with spondyloarthropies, HLA-B27. Even with vast knowledge and years of experience, my rheumatologist did not have a straight answer or diagnosis. He decided to give me a prescription for Mobic, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, to start reducing the inflammation and a promise to return in a month to evaluate my results.