Friday, September 7, 2012

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis part 2 ~ My Medication

One thing about RA is that it is an invisible disease. If you look at me you would never know that I have this life changing chronic systemic inflammatory disorder. There is no cure. Only different medications to help treat it, but it will never go away.

The first course of medication the rheumy started me on was Methotrexate (mtx), as well as continuing the Prednisone. The Prednisone acts like a bridge so that when the mtx finally starts to work, I would be weened off the Prednisone. Didn't really work. Due to the Prednisone weakening my bones (I have been on it many times before because of my asthma), I also take extra calcium and vitamin D.

Over the past year I have come to dread Mondays and Tuesdays. Monday is the day that I take the mtx. It makes me feel like shit, to put it nicely. Imagine your worse morning sickness (or flu for those who never have had children). That is what I feel like, only I don't throw up. It does take a few hours to kick in and then it kicks my butt. I get super ass tired and tend to spend the next two days in bed. Tuesdays I am still tired and nauseous, but I am also in the bathroom. A lot. I will spare you the details. Methotrexate in very high dosages is used to treat cancer such as Leukemia in children. If I feel this bad taking 30mg once a week, I feel for the kids who have to take 1100mg every day.

I started taking the pill form of mtx then changed to the injectable form. I really had no problems giving myself the shot. Maybe at first, but you get use to it. I would close my eyes before stabbing myself in my belly fat, then I would open them and push the plunger. The shot made me more tired but a little less sick. I eventually changed back to the pill form when I learned there was a shortage of the injectable. The kids with cancer need it more than me in my opinion.

Not only does mtx make me feel like crap, but it also damages my liver. I have to have blood work done once a month to make sure my enzyme levels are ok. If they are high (which has happened a few times so far), I have to stop taking the mtx. Eventually a flare happens about a week or so later on. I have to watch my alcohol consumption. Not that I am a drinker, but I do enjoy a margarita during girls night out. My first rheumy told me that I can never ever drink again. He was older, like my dads age and always seemed kind of tired and grumpy. My new rheumy (who is hot and near my age) said that an occasional drink is ok. He said that my girls night out, birthday and anniversary drinks are ok. Both of them also said to not get pregnant. No worries there unless God wants to play a cruel joke on me. The mtx is a very toxic drug and can cause lots of birth defects.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Why don't you take one of those medications they show on tv and be all better?". Well, I am. I have been taking Enbrel for the past few months. What the commercials don't tell you is that it can take 3-9 months before it could work. It doesn't work for everyone and if it does work, eventually it may stop working and then another drug is used instead. Rinse and repeat. It is not a "magic pill" like it seems on tv. So far I don't feel better. In fact for the past few days my ankles have been hurting bad. I know I am in a flare right now. I still have joint swelling and damage being done. I am still stiff and sore. I am still in pain.

Here is all the medications I take just for my RA. Some people take even more than I do.

The orange pills and the vial with the orange tipped syringe are both Methotrexate. I have both forms but only use the pills. The mtx and Enbrel are taken once a week. Everything else is taken daily. They are from left to right, Calcium, Naproxen (I am asking for better pain pills at my next appointment. I have been taking some of my husbands Vicodin at times), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Prednisone (which I am not on right now but have extra in case).

Currently I am not on the mtx. My last enzyme levels were extremely high and the rheumy asked me to stop taking it. He called me personally to tell me a few hours after the blood was drawn. Scary times. When he put me on the Enbrel, I asked if I could stay off the mtx. He agreed to see if the Enbrel alone will work. So far it hasn't, so I have a feeling that I will be back on it come my next appointment in November. Uggg.

Off to take a shower and use up a bunch of spoons.

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