While neither of these ailments has the potential to be fatal, like cancer, they are not fun. Rheumatoid is one of those life long things that slowly progresses. The goal is to get it to stop progressing. I have early stage RA which has not yet started to erode my bones in the joints but I have many swollen joints in my hands and feet and elsewhere.
Fibromyalgia can last for months or years or forever. Actually its described as a long term pain problem that can come and go for years. A fibromyalgia flare up can last a few minutes or a few years.
I'm special since I have both fibro and RA. I have to be special. I'm convinced that I could make a lot of money when I die selling my body off to science so they can ooh and ahh at all my ailments. But I digress. I am now trying to get my treatment started for both of these. The basic recommendations for patients with both RA and fibro are:
"The best course of treatment for patients who have both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis is to first treat the rheumatoid arthritis since this condition commonly is associated with joint deformity and disability. If it is felt that the rheumatoid arthritis is controlled based on joint exam and measures of inflammation such as sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP), but the patient still complains of pain and fatigue - consider fibromyalgia activity. Focus on improving quality of sleep through increased rest and aerobic exercise. Rule out sleep apnea if clinically significant. Consider medications used for fibromyalgia including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), and gabanergic medications like Neurontin (gabapentin) or Lyrica (pregabalin)."
My rhuematologist started me on treatment for my RA - but I was allergic to both medications. I'll see how I feel by the end of the week and call her back so she can start me on Methotrexate. These medications can take months to start working - oh, joy! In the meantime, my back pain doctor who will be the primary doctor to treat my fibro, doesn't want o put me on anything like Lyrica for now. He wants my RA to get under control - one new set of drugs at a time. But he did increase the dose of my pain patch which I'll start next week.
In the meantime, I wake up in the middle of the night - sleeplessness is a symptom of fibro but also can be caused by waking up in pain. I have my little bottle of pain pills that I carry around like it is a life support system. I am also learning to cope with the fatigue. Saturday afternoon at 4pm all of a sudden I got too tired to watch TV. When you are too tired to watch a Lifetime movie, that means you are really wiped out.
I have been perfecting my ability to be lazy which isn't as hard as you may think. The cat is overjoyed with my sedentary life style as it means he can sleep on or next to me more frequently. But I still go to the gym three days a week and have gotten advice on adapting my work out until the medications kick in - in a few months. That means I may be perfecting other skills - whininess, crabbiness, crankiness.