Welcome to LivingRheum. My name is Jo-Ann. I started this blog almost 4 years ago to focus on living well with a rheumatic disease. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 2000. I am happily married to my college sweetheart Eric. We have been blessed with 3 amazing boys Alex, Nate, and Kevin. We live in a fairly rural portion of Rhode Island with our 2 dogs Daisy and Max and our rabbit Nala. For the past 20 years Eric and I have owned and run a Land Surveying business. He is the Land Surveyor, I am the business. So he is my partner at work as well as at home.
I decided to start this site for people like me who not only were looking for support in dealing with the daily ups and downs of arthritis but also as a resource for those of us who are looking for information on what can help us live healthier, happier lives with Rheumatic diseases.
When I was first diagnosed with RA I went through denial and then depression. I felt like this was happening at worst possible time (as if there is a good time for this to happen!). My son Kevin was still in diapers not even toddling around yet. He needed me for so many things and I felt like my body was not only failing me but him as well. At that time I had two very active young boys to contend with as well. I learned the hard way that things were not going to be the way that I planned and that we were going to have to make a great many adjustments. At some point I decided that I could sit back and let RA take control or I could try to find ways to make my life better.
After 9 years of immune-suppressing drugs and countless doctors, and finding my symptoms not improving, I started questioning my original diagnosis. I went back to when I first started experiencing symptoms and looked at what happened prior to my RA diagnosis.
Prior to my RA diagnosis, I had tested positive with Lyme disease and had been treated for several weeks with antibiotics. When my symptoms didn’t improve, I was diagnosed with RA. I was told that it was a false positive Lyme test.
So I began to wonder, what if it wasn’t a false positive Lyme test, what if they got it wrong. So I decided to consult with a Lyme specialist to try and find out if it was possible. After 3 hour consultation going through my entire medical history, he told me he believed that I had Lyme disease and wanted to run some tests. Lucky for me, blood test confirmed that not only did I have Lyme disease, but I also have Babesia and Protomyxzoa Rheumatica. I had a long road ahead of me, but there was hope that I could be cured.
And so a new journey began. Unfortunately, 9 1/2 years of uncontrolled inflammation has caused joint damage. I need a new hip and there are deformities, but the future is hopeful.
I created LivingRheum to help others live well with rheumatic diseases and now I am hoping to educate people on Lyme disease as well.