I thought I would respond to your post, as I have autoimmune issues. I am not sure why, but at this point I am not waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think my plate has reached capacity (at least temporarily) and it would just not be right to drop something else on me! Ha! That may be naive', but it is how I am feeling at this time. However, I did go through a period where I definitely thought about "the other shoe" dropping. I went through my immune diagnosis in a short period of years, so it left me in the shoe dropping state for a while. My family and friends would say, "What else?" and I would answer, "Who knows!" I have been diagnosed with endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, lupus, pernicious anemia, Fuchs' Dystrophy, and lastly a brain tumor. I have also had a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, however, the lupus and last two diagnosis are most likely just one systemic arthritis. Opinions seem to differ on which one. So, I have had my feel of problems since 2000 of what I can handle for the moment!
When you see your rheumatologist, they will most likely run a large panel of blood work. It is extremely important to have panels of blood work done at the rheumatologist. One of the things they need to look for is your ANA titer. This is often a flag that you have autoimmune issues. Although, in some cases, it can still be negative, even with a disease. If your numbers are quite large, it is more definitive. My titer is usually 1:1240, with normal being 1:40 or less. I, too, have had hive issues, but only brought out by prescription drugs and the sun. When I have them, they are off the scale! Since radiation, I am still battling daily scalp and skin problems around my ears and upper neck even at almost seven months out.
I want to say I am sorry you are going through this and hope your issues will pass with time! I totally relate to the joint pain as that is a daily issue for me. At times, my joints swell. I have drug reactions off the scale, so it is not easy for me to be treated which is my main problem in dealing with the issues. If you can take medicine without drug reactions, that is a great help!
My coping mechanism is just to take things day by day and keep as active and involved as possible. I have a good support group around me and feel blessed. I don't look like anything is wrong with me, so in some way maybe that helps?? Although when I visit a doctor, maybe it hurts! I have remained positive for the most part. I have a very good friend with fibro and we commissurate together! I also know people through church who have similar issues. I will say when I had my GK and things did not turn out totally as I had hoped, it was hard. My immune system seemed to react to the radiation in an adverse way and it was not easy for me to be positive in the beginning. I had really gotten my hopes up that things would go great. I was on countless prayer lists and had tremendous support. I kept thinking everything would go so well. I was so disappointed when I had problems early on. It was hard for me to handle the new issues on top of my old issues. I had to go through a period of acceptance that I had more issues to contend with now. Whether it was right or wrong, I did not feel it was fair to have more problems. Also, I have had little luck in finding a physician to help, so it complicated matters.
On the bright side, even though I am still battling some issues, it is getting much better. I don't know if I am just over the initial shock of what can crop up post GK, or it is getting better. I think it is slowly getting better and I am able to cope better, as well. Also, I have had a very special person on this board who has helped me in such a great way through pm's (you know who you are)! It is so helpful to have someone who you can relate to on a very personal way with the same health issue(s), such as the AN or other health issues.
I wish you the very best on your visit with the rheumatologist. I hope you feel better and can get some help very soon. Please keep us posted with your condition. I don't think I answered your questions one by one, but hope I have helped in some way!