I'd be interested in the tests. Not that you should trust me, but I'd like to follow.
You shouldn't trust me, since I left the field in 1980.
I had two labs, one a starter lab for a rheumatology department, where the boss rarely came around though was available. That one was sort of mine. It was me who moved the refrigerator, etc. And another which was primarily a research lab in rheum/immunology with the boss at hand, v. smart. It was his lab and better for it, but I was fairly involved in the testing.
This was all a long time ago. I'd be interested in whatever showed up positive on your tests, as false positives or questionable positives used to occur fairly often back then. A 1+ at beginning dilutions might or might not mean something. A high titer is probably real.
I'll segue to another story, when I had my eyes tested at a university clinic because I figured my longtime nightblindness might mean RP.
I went to the clinic.
The resident didn't believe me, told me lots of people have trouble seeing at night. I explained how I differed from most..
He looked at my eyes for a long time, and thought I might have (what, I can't remember, but it was off the mark). Kept looking. Finally saw some dots (or, whatever) near the vessels.
He ran some blood tests. Among them was a test for syphilis, which can cause nightblindness. So I can't be pissed at him.
I went up to the desk after the appointment and asked for them to call me at home with any results, and please not at work.
So, naturally, a few days later, I get a call in a client meeting from the hospital.
Had to be terse in response, as my test was positive.
Well, hell, the test was a fluorescent antibody test and I'd done something like 10,000 of those myself. I know 1+ is iffy. I saw it, as a slide reader, as more meaningful if a person had an autoimmune problem and had been treated, thus the titer coming down. Not necessarily, as it could matter for a person just starting with a syndrome, but also could be artifact.
Thus physicians ordering repeat tests.
So, like you, Marty, I knew people at the hospital or people who knew people. I talked to the head of Infectious Disease. He agreed with my take on 1+ and suggested that I suggest to the resident another treponeme test, name I forget now.
Which I did and it came back negative.
Meantime, I'd been figuring on letters to write... Dear So and So, I have syphylis...
Ok, enough bushwa.
Maybe you do have beginning RA. If so, it seems you are in the right place.
Don't be shy... get all the info you can, ask for copies of stuff, research without panic, as there is a lot of foo foo out there.