Slowing down wasn’t easy for Lori. For more than 12 years, she put in 70-hour weeks as a program director for a home health care agency. “I loved my job!” she said. But there was another side to the story. After long hours by day helping others get the care they needed, by night Lori sank into her own pain, so bad that she spent many nights awake and in tears. The worst part? Years of no diagnosis or misdiagnosis. “More than one doctor referred me to a psychiatrist,” said Lori.
Her family hated to see her suffer but no one knew what to do. It was only when her daughter came home one day from nursing school that things began to turn around. “She said, ‘Mom, I know what you have,’” recounted Lori. “It was the first time in 18 years that RA had entered the picture.”
Lori scheduled an appointment with a rheumatologist who confirmed what her daughter had suspected. Lori was diagnosed with RA and took her first Vectra test. “I cried again, this time with tears of relief when I had my diagnosis and a Vectra score that validated all I had been feeling. The best part was when my doctor told me I was not crazy. Finally, someone believed me. Someone heard what I said.”
At diagnosis, Lori’s RA was extremely active. After trying several medications, she finally found a biologic that helped her feel better and reduced her disease activity. It wasn’t easy at first, but Lori credits her family for providing the support she needed, “I could not have done it without them. My family encircled me and lifted me up. They gave me hope, they educated me, and they told me I don’t have to be that ‘super’ person,” said Lori. “I would not be here today if it weren’t for them.”
“I can’t work. Sometimes I have to cancel lunch or dinner dates, and I’ve toned down the holidays,” said Lori. “I’ve had to let go of the person I was and embrace the person I’ve become. Through that process, I’ve regained my dignity, my hope and some of my dreams.”
Lori and her husband Wayne raise chickens. “He calls me the chicken whisperer,” she said. “I enjoy being out there with them and talking with them. They are my pets.” She spends time with her grandkids and takes care of her garden, always leaving a bit of lettuce for the rabbits at the end of the season.
Lori said, “Vectra has allowed me to redefine RA by making it easier to treat my illness, which, in turn, has given me my life back. When I see those numbers come down, it encourages me to live a little harder because I feel a little better. I encourage everyone to ask for help. Don’t stay quiet. Learn as much as you can, and never, ever give up.”
How have you switched gears since being diagnosed with RA? Leave your thoughts and comments below. We’d love to hear how you are #RedefiningRA.