“Persistence is stubbornness with a purpose.” -Richard DeVos

Competitive. Bulheaded. Stubborn. Adamant. Obstinate. Hardheaded. Headstrong. Immovable. There are lot of names for people who will never give up. Some of them imply it’s a good thing. Other names imply that there’s something wrong with it.

I like to call it persistence.

“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” -Joshua Marine

For nearly eight years I was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. I took all of the medications and had reconciled with the idea that I would never be able to live my life the way I truly wanted to live it. I would take shorted hikes. I would watch soccer from the sidelines. I would stay home every other Friday night to give myself my biweekly injection.

Like a zombie, I went to every doctor’s appointment. I would sit there while they recited my medical history. They would tell me that I was in pain and I would correct them. “I never had any pain. Only fluid on my knees.” I don’t think they ever heard me. It was all so automated.

The fluid on my knee eventually turned into a cyst on my knee (hence, the name of this blog).  The cyst on my knee started pushing my calf muscle out of the way to nest itself into the back of my leg.

I spent nights crying on the couch because no one would hear me. Doctors would tell me that I needed to give my medication more time. I would tell them it wasn’t working. They wouldn’t hear me. I was near a point of giving up and resigning myself to a life of inactivity.

“The difference between a quitter and someone persistent is one tiny moment.” -Sean David Jenkins

I had a total of three surgeries; the final one removed my cyst which had grown to be bigger than a baseball. Biopsies from that surgery came back consistent with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had been treated six years for Rheumatoid Arthritis. No medication controlled or even slightly improved my symptoms.

I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands. With access to a medical school library, I started searching the [electronic] shelves everyday at lunch for something to help me make my case. In the past, I had brought articles from the internet and doctors would scoff. I decided that I would make them listen. It was time they heard me.

After seven years of misery, I found an article about seronegative Celiac disease and joint inflammation. This was it. I spoke up loudly about the article I found and stood my ground when the doctors tried to tell me the article wasn’t relevant to my situation.

“Stubborn people get themselves in a lot of trouble, but they also get things done.” -Anna Paquin

In my own journey and suffering, I’ve learned about the balancing act needed for a good doctor-patient relationship. I’ve learned that patients need to listen to their own body and need to speak up for themselves. So many patients are not heard by their doctor and don’t know if anything can be done.

The best defense is a good offense, that’s what my coaches used to tell me. If there is anything that people can take away from my story, I hope they know that they can educate and stand up for themselves. You don’t have to suffer. You just have to be a little bullheaded.