Until just about three years ago, I was quite an active person. Most of my life I’d thought nothing of zipping around Manhattan on foot – 10, 20, 50 blocks at a time. Then, almost overnight, my knees began to freeze up. Walking became painful. My right knee began to swell. I consulted a doctor at another hospital, who soon performed orthoscopic surgery. Not only did it not improve the situation, but my ability to walk continued to deteriorate in spite of physical therapy. The doctor pronounced my condition “a mystery.” By Christmas of 2013, I was struggling to walk even with a cane, and had begun to be aware that my arms and hands weren’t working properly. At that point, I asked around among my concerned friends, and was advised to come to HSS.
Rheumatologist Dr. Whitman tentatively diagnosed me on my very first visit with psoriatic arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatic (PMR). He prescribed a number of tests with specialists to rule other conditions out/in, and within a month I was also found to have Hashimoto’s disease. So, I have a hat trick of autoimmune disorders.
Being diagnosed was an incredible relief. Nobody likes to be sick, of course, but having a diagnosis meant I could be treated. I began to improve right away, and I’m in good shape for a person with multiple autoimmune diseases. Haven’t needed a cane for a long time.
Having a great rheumatologist is like having a private chef. He creates a recipe just for you. The ingredients include changes in diet and a combination of medications. I meet with Dr. Whitman regularly, and if the recipe needs tweaking, he tweaks it. I also meet once a year with surgeon Dr. Sculco, so he can keep an eye on my minor osteoarthritis.
Having chronic diseases, as I do, isn’t great, of course, but I feel so fortunate to be living in a time and place that has ways to treat them. Dr. Whitman is the Wolfgang Puck of rheumatologists. Thank you, Dr. Whitman!