In the beginning, one of the things that I didn’t understand was why I was being sent to a rheumatologist. After all, it was my eyes that were the problem not my joints.
Since then, I have learned that uveitis is an inflammatory disease, and in my case, an autoimmune inflammatory disease, not unlike rheumatoid arthritis or reactive arthritis. In fact, sometimes uveitis can be a symptom of one of these, and a long list of other diseases.
The rheumatologist specialist I have seen at OHSU is an expert in rheumatology and uveitis. A really great person to have on your side, in this fight to hang on to vision.
My regular rheumatologist that I see in Bend is part of my team of doctors. He’s the go to guy for any symptoms I might have that could be linked to a rheumatic disease. He’s also the person who prescribes most of the anti-inflammatory medications that I take. The rheum doc is the one who knows how often I need blood work, he gets the lab reports and knows what to look for.
Side effects of medications are usually the sort of thing that I discuss with the rheumatologist, or recent symptoms I’ve had that could be linked to one of the diseases we are watching for. We talk about my eyes, but in general terms, like if there is improvement in vision or not. If there is a concern specifically about my eyes, I don’t discuss that with the rheum doc. That is for my retinologist.
I’ve been through a few rheumatologists, because most of them that I saw asked me why I was there, and then looked at me like I was a waste of their time when I told them. Most that I have seen here are not comfortable dealing with inflammatory eye disease.
My current rheum doc is fantastic and conservative, which I like. He was a doctor in the military and had to treat uveitis, so is comfortable with treating me. I feel lucky, because in Central Oregon there isn’t a vast menu of doctoral options. I like that he’s conservative because it makes me feel that the dose of a medication I am on is not outrageous. If he ups a dose, I know that he is comfortable with it. If a higher dose than he is comfortable with is on the table, he tells me his concerns and then sends me over the mountains to the experts, so that I can have all of the information I need to make a decision.
It’s good to feel a measure of safety in this unpredictable world of chronic uveitis. Glad that I found a great rheumatologist!
Remember…if you have a question, they are welcome. If you have had a similar experience or your own thoughts to share, please feel free to leave a comment.
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