I have been diagnosed with RA for almost exactly one year. I got the phone call about my Rh factor being 580 on my 29th birthday. I am also Bipolar (manic depressive). I have had that diagnosis for 2 1/2 years. This causes me to take quite a few medications. The 2 conditions play upon each other a lot. Anytime I change anything with one doctor, I have to alert the other doctor.
(Explanation on what might go on:
When I am manic (high feeling) I might not pay attention to any pain that I may be having- even pain that might slow me down when I am "normal". I almost can't tell if I feel it at all and definitely can't be subjective about what I am feeling.
If I don't have pain after feeling bad for a long period of time it can sometimes make me feel as if I am going into a manic, and I really have to consider what is going on and be proactive.
The prednisone that I take is a steroid, which can put me into a manic by increasing the dosage. When the dosage is lowered it can cause me to go into a depressive episode.
If I have pain for an extended period of time it can cause the chemical balance to shift and put me into a depression.
When I am in a depressive episode I am less able to deal with the pain that I feel, have "other" body aches, more fatigue, and generally feel sorry for myself, making me unable to be subjective about what I am feeling.)
All this to say that for the past year I have been unable to go to school or hold a job. There are times that I am just fine, you would never know that I am "sick". There are plenty of times that I "power through" what needs to get done in a day- I have 3 small children, the work is never done. But there are also lots of days like today where I spent most of the day laying on the couch while my preschooler watched cartoons a few feet away or sleeping in bed while my husband took care of the kids. These days come often enough that I would always be in danger of loosing any job that I could hold. These days are unpredictable enough that I would never be able to be counted on to fufill a shift without calling in last minute. I would not hire me right now.
I do hope that with time, I will be able to bring the medication changes under control. I hope that I will be able to control both conditions so that I will be able to be as productive as "normal" people. For both conditions I am very early in the treatment process. At least for Bipolor treatment I can expect to find the right medication comonation between 2-5 years. I think we are on the right one if we could just quit changing the RA meds. For RA? I don't know what to expect yet.