If we could only find the humor in side effects, there would be room for irony. Think about drug commercials. They talk about how wonderful life is after you take their drug, and then they talk about side effects and the wonderful things about the medication are over. (I guess that would explain why the dancing stopped.) Actually, there are more side effects than there are positive aspects of the medications. (Yes, a small price we pay to try to feel better.)
So the next time you are wobbling around due to dizziness, nausea, and extreme fatigue, remind yourself that “Celebrex is not for everyone. You shouldn’t take Celebrex if you are pregnant or have had allergic reactions or asthma symptoms from taking aspirin. In rare cases, serious stomach problems, such as bleeding, can occur without warning. The most common side effects include indigestion, diarrhea and stomach pain.” (Common on, keep trying until you will see in the humor in it!)
Is the point of taking medication is to feel better in one place, i.e., your joints, to feel worse every where worse? With all the side effects, are meds really worth taking? Someone should tell the drug companies that patients like feeling queasy, having indigestion and diarrhea, and it would make sense that my arthritis does not stop me from calling 911 in case of bleeding without warning. The average Joe sees the logic, why can’t the drug companies?
Let’s take a medication for depression. “Anti-Depress Drug#2’s most common side effects include insomnia, dry mouth, diarrhea, tremors, agitation, sweating, and decreased appetite. Well, it is nice that patients are able to take their depression off their mind and find something else to concern themselves with. I guess I wouldn’t mind being a sweaty, cranky insomniac over being depressed. Thanks to the frequent diarrhea and decreased appetite, I saved money because I did not have to go to the gym.
Now, I will try not to make my own mother blush here, but Viagra’s side effects are quite interesting aren’t they? What is “bluish vision?” An erection lasting more than four hours? (Sorry Mom, I had to throw that one in.)
I really think that the drug companies really should leave the information about side effects to the doctors to explain, first. Second, maybe they could focus on medications that don’t force people in their 30s to fall asleep in the middle of a company meeting (it wasn’t me), or cause them to be depressed, overtired and crankier than a toddler who has missed his nap.
This is my way of venting about side effects. It is nice and all that I finally remember how to walk without wobbling, but I swear the dizziness, nausea, sinus symptoms, and extreme yawning (fatigue) are making me insane. This is worse than Obama’s proposed healthcare plan.
Many of you have asked me how Humira has been working for me, and I have been hesitant to respond. The reason for that is because I am simply not sure. I just want to find a whole bunch of wood and just knock on it over and over. I took my first injection only two weeks ago and I will be taking my second this morning.
It is has been exactly one year since my official RA diagnosis and in the past year, I have not lived one day without pain. I do not even remember what it is like to be “normal,” as if any of us suffering from a chronic pain condition know what normal is.
For the past two months, I have dragged my left foot around hoping that I will be able to move normally again, and that I would remember what it was like not to be in pain from my knee down to my toes. (Get this! I have been wearing the same pair of hippie slippers day after day because nothing else fits due to the swelling in my ankle and foot. And Boy, are they ugly slippers!)
In addition to my foot pain, I have had days where I have not been able to buckle my seatbelt or the baby’s car seat – I am so grateful for my wonderful nine year old – he is my rock, and he has helped me through those tough days. There were days where I have had to type at work dealing with pain in my wrists and my fingers. Even resting my elbows on my desk is painful. There were days where I was too weak to clean my house or even get out of bed. It has been very hard for me to walk a quarter a mile from my office to the parking garage. I have to rest because my legs do not want to move and my hips and my back feel like they can no longer take it. There were days where it hurt just to pick up the baby and I was afraid I would drop him. Fortunately for me, he walked before his first birthday. And yes, don’t forget the days (short-lived) that I could conquer the world (or at least my life). Did I mention the brain fog? I could definately do without that.
This has been the norm for me for the last year. I have found my strength in the smiles on my children’s faces and in prayer. I have accepted it and I have accepted that pain is apart of my life. I don’t take anything for granted like being able to get up in the morning without that same pain that I have had in my foot for the last two months. Yes, you read that right. The realization that the pain in my foot has subsided is something I never anticipated. Of course, the stiffness and the inability to move my leg and foot are still there, but the pain is nearly gone.
It could be the Humira, it could the entire medicine regime I take everyday, or it could be me running towards remission (okay, I am thinking big), but I don’t take it for granted. This is my first big accomplishment with my rheumatoid arthritis and I wanted to share it with the RA community of bloggers. This may seem like a small victory, but for me, it is big, especially considering that I have not had a break in nearly a year. Small victories can turn into big victories.
I don’t know what the future holds and I know that there will be setbacks. I don’t even know if remission is possible for me, but I have hope, and I know that I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I have always been a positive and resilient person, and even when life hands me lemons, I make lemonade with a smile. Underneath that smile, I always hold on to hope no matter what my struggles were.
In the last two years, I have been handed obstacle after obstacle, and yes, there were times where I wanted to give up, but I always reminded myself what I was fighting for. I fight my children, I fight for my marriage, and I fight for my health. My children and marriage won’t be successful if my health isn’t.
RA has forced me to give up some of my career dreams, but it has also opened my eyes up to a brighter picture and for that, I am grateful. I would describe it as needing glasses, and if you wear glasses or contacts, you know exactly what I mean. Things are much clearer when you put on your corrective lenses, aren’t they? I am not unhappy at the things I have given up, and I am actually grateful that I was given the opportunity to stop and smell the roses. And if not for RA, I would have never known how sweet smelling those roses were.
UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.: The stiffness and feeling is coming back into my leg, knee, ankle and foot, and I am having a hard time keeping my balance. Apparently, I have forgotten how to walk without limping, pain and stiffness. Isn’t RA wonderful?
I finally received the approval for Humira and despite the high expense of the medication, I was able to get assistance towards the cost of the medication from Abbott Patient Assistance Foundation so I wanted to pass this piece of information on to anyone thinking they cannot afford the cost.
The cost and the approval of the medication has been very nerve-wrecking subject for me in the last month as RA has left me with so many questions. When I first was diagnosed, I did not know what to expect and I didn’t know where this journey would take me. I can tell you that I have changed in more ways that I could have imagined. I have changed in the way that I view the world, the way I view my life, my religious thinking has evolved, and I appreciate everything in my life and I take nothing for granted.
My life has, of course, gotten a little tougher because I am unable to do as much as I used to. I am working mother and I am also working on master’s degree in legal studies so I am slowly incorporating changes in my life to adapt to the worsening of my condition However, I am hopeful that my condition will show the improvement that I need it to when my life is less stressful and less chaotic, less busy, and less _______________ (insert your favorite noisy adjective here.) As many of you know, the American College of Rheumatology met last week in Philadelphia to further define rheumatoid arthritis and to incorporate new criteria to for diagnosis and treatment so there is always reason to be hopeful.
But —- I wouldn’t change a thing. I am grateful for the gifts in my life, and I won’t let rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any worry about my conditions take that away. Check out my latest Examiner post titled “When a working mother lives with an arthritis-related condition .”
I received a letter from my insurance company denying my Humira request due to a pre-condition waiting period. I am pulling together ALL the forms necessary for waiving or shortening the waiting period, but I am not thrilled with this. Has anyone gone through this frustration?
I am frustrated mostly because of how long it will take for me to get approved and start taking my Humira. It is the anticipation for waiting to feel better that is difficult to bear. With my conditions, sometimes it feels like I am going around in circles trying to get the answers I need, just to simply feel better.
Any advice to hasten the process would be appreciated. Or if you have any ideas to help me keep my sanity intact so my sailor mouth doesn’t kick in as it did when I sorted through the mail Saturday in front my nine year old.
If you hear someone mumbling in French (Pardon my French), please excuse me. It is not an uncontrollable reflex these days.