Back in March of last year, I saw my doctor since my wife had suggested that I might have sleep apnea, so my doctor referred me to Kaiser Permanente's sleep clinic. After going to the earliest opening they had a half year later in September, they said I most certainly do have sleep apnea. After the doctor then said that, if untreated, a slew of bad health problems could follow; thus, we should treat it using a CPAP machine.
So, I bought a CPAP machine in October and started using it by the end of the month. While I tried using it, especially in earnest at the outset, it never seemed to actually me sleep nor feel well-rested. The only thing with which the CPAP machine has helped me is serving as an aid in falling asleep. I find that not only does it, in some way, seem to hinder my breathing, but that there is also some uncomfortability on my face with the mask.
Separately, I noticed within a week or two of using the CPAP machine that my fingers would no longer straighten all the way. Additionally, there was some pain in a couple of them. Furthermore, there was some swelling in my fingers, as well as, more noticeably, my hands.
At first, I thought what was happening to my hands and fingers was because I laid differently when using my CPAP machine - when I would read books at night in bed, I would lean my chin on the back of my hands and, perhaps, it was that pressure on my hands that was causing the pain. I wasn't sure if that was the case or not, but that was the only change I knew in my life.
In any event, it didn't go away and my fingers remained curled, but I figured it was merely a temporary condition. Since I had some difficulty and trouble at the gym with lifting weights, I decided to stop in early December until I could figure out what was going on with my hands/fingers (I didn't know if the pressure on my fingers might be problematic with regards to weight-lifting). I then went on a trip at the end of December through the beginning of January to Israel and decided that, if my fingers continued to stay curled, I would go see a doctor about them. As it turned out, they did not get better, so I went to see the doctor in January. When I saw the doctor, I told him about what was going on with my hands/fingers and he referred me to an orthopedist.
While on the aforementioned trip, a seemingly unrelated incident happened: one day, we were in Jerusalem and walked a lot and it made the arches of my feet hurt, resulting in my feet swelling. At the time, I chalked it simply to being part of so much walking and/or the uncomfortability of my shoes, perhaps. However, the soreness in my arches and the swelling didn't go away after getting back. I had thought it would last for only a few days and then it would get better, but it never went away.
When I visited the orthopedist, I told him about both my hands/fingers as well as my feet. He wasn't really sure what was going on, so he sent me to get an MRI. After having scheduled the MRI, I then discovered it would cost over $1100 for the MRI on my hands, so I decided not to spend all that money on my hands. Having related that to my orthopedist, he then referred me to a rheumatologist.
When I went to see the rheumatologist in March of this year, he told me, after seeing my blood draw results, that I have rheumatoid arthritis. It took me a moment to try to process it. I had heard of the condition from commercials that I ignored. I was shocked about this, but also totally naïve about it. I then asked about how to fix/cure it, to which he responded that there was no cure (at this point in medical research). So, I then asked about treatments, none of which seemed particularly good or short-term....
(to be continued)