diagnosisJ.G. Chayko launches her new blog on CreakyJoints, “The Old Lady in My Bones on CJ,” a page full of scribbles where she’ll write on the victories, defeats and day-to-day ridiculousness of life with arthritis


The doctor’s office was crowded when I arrived. The clock indicated he was already behind. I squeezed between two women, one who was constantly blowing her nose, the other trying to rear in her manic child. The receptionist, a woman who bore the years of experience in her shrunken face, peered over her glasses, proficiently surveyed the room, and then ducked behind her massive desk. I squirmed in my seat, trying to alleviate the stiff swollen joints dogging me for the last six weeks. It was November, the rains had arrived bringing the cold damp days that did little to relieve my symptoms or trigger my dormant energy.

“Miss Chayko”, the receptionist croaked. My foot got tangled with the leg of the chair as I stood up and I nearly dragged it down the hall with me. I collected myself and limped away, attempting to hide my embarrassment behind a screen of false dignity.

I sat on the exam table, my legs dangling over the edge like a child in a highchair. My doctor was a kind man who listened as I prattled on about the virus I couldn’t seem to shake. He examined my swollen fingers and elbows, poked at tender spots on my wrist, studied my puffy knees, scribbled in his chart and then announced, “I’m going to refer you to a Rheumatologist,” to which I incredulously responded “I beg your pardon?”

I was still a bit dazed when I left his office and returned to my work at the Rheumatology Clinic. I parked myself at my desk and stared at the referrals waiting to be booked. All of them described a sudden onset of symptoms – swelling joints, stiffness and fatigue. It had somehow escaped my attention that these were the very same symptoms I had been experiencing. And that’s where it all began….my unexpected journey into the world of RA.

My name is J.G. Chayko. I am a writer and actress diagnosed with this twisted disease in my thirties while working in Rheumatology. We have many names for this in the writing world – irony, paradox, absurdity, strange, weird, coincidental, eerie, unnerving, odd – there’s likely a whole list of adjectives, but I can work on a Thesaurus some other time. The result was that I was thrust into the unfamiliar world of chronic illness.

Over the next several months, living with this disease would force me to uncover the lighter side of life, to seek out the positive, to unearth the humor and adventure of living with a new illness, and in a strange twist of fate, it would open the door to a dream I had always wanted to pursue.

And now, I am thrilled to share my stories, my adventures, and my revelations on CreakyJoints. Pack your bags and let the journey begin…don’t forget to bring heating pads, pillows, ice packs or any other comforts of home – we have a long way to go.

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