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Last fall when the weather suddenly turned extremely cold, I awoke one morning feeling about 120 years old. Every joint in my body, on both sides, was extremely painful and stiff. I'd only need to be sitting down for 5 minutes, after moving around for a while, when I'd stiffen up again. During this period, I also felt unusually physically ill -- extreme fatigue and lack of appetite. This acute phase lasted approximately 6 weeks. The pain and stiffness gradually lessened and became manageable. But, I was then hit with stabbing pains in my feet and lower legs, numb and tingling hands and feet (basically all the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, which can result from RA). Then, just as those symptoms were lessening, I was hit with severe Raynaud's symptoms -- had to wear mitts and three pairs of heavy sock in our heated house just to keep functional. When the weather became warm in the spring, the Raynaud's symptoms were replaced with many Lupus symptoms -- rashes and red/swollen/itchy/burning hands and feet. Now, the joint problems again seem to be dominant. So, I seemed to fall under the category of mixed connective tissue disease. A recent positive anti-CCP test ruled out Lupus as a primary diagnosis. From what I understand, those with positive anti-CCP have a 95 percent chance of having RA. This, plus my bilateral symptoms, was enough for my doctor to feel confident in making a diagnosis of RA. My rheumatoid factor test is negative -- but it is so in approximately 20 percent of RA patients.

I've done a lot of alternative things that may be controlling my discomfort (supplements, change in diet). But, based on visual and functional changes I'm seeing in my body, it seems there is some disease progression.

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