Remicade (infliximab)

July 23, 2010

More terrifying - the needle or me with no makeup?

I had my Remicade I.V. infusion today which went well, as usual.  Today’s session was especially nice because for most of the three hours I was there, the entire place was empty.  QUIET!  While nurses took my vitals, pumped my veins with a steroid, saline, and finally Remicade, I tried to relax and read my book.  These bi-monthly infusions are kind of a pain, but I prefer them over having to give myself injections of Humira or Enbrel weekly or bi-weekly (which I have done before).  The  Humira injection is especially painful due to the preservative that’s in it (the worst stinging pain you can imagine as soon as the needle pierces your skin).  Yes, I’d much rather have a nurse gently hook me up to tubes than to have to stab myself with a sharp dangerous needle every two weeks in the fat of my lower abdomen or upper thigh.  I’ve been on and off Remicade since 2003, and throughout all of the tests and trials of other similar medications, so far it’s been the one that has worked best.  I feel very fortunate that during my decade of having RA I haven’t had a lot of trouble dealing with side effects from all of the strong medications I’ve been on.  Other people I know and have heard about have suffered almost more from the meds than the actual RA.  It’s a very frustrating and “Catch-22″ situation – what’s worse, the disease or the drugs?

Here is some “fascinating” information about Remicade from their website — if anybody’s interested in what is coursing through my veins at the moment:

REMICADE is a biologic therapy that recognizes, attaches to, and blocks the action of a protein in your body called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is made by certain blood cells in your body.

  • The immune system protects the body by responding to “invaders” like bacteria, viruses, and other foreign matter that enter your body by producing antibodies and putting them into action to fight off the “invaders.”
  • In plaque psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, adult Crohn’s disease, pediatric Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ankylosing spondylitis, TNF can cause your immune system to attack healthy tissues in your body and cause inflammation and damage.
  • If these diseases are untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the body’s bones, cartilage, and tissue.
  • REMICADE will not cure inflammatory disorders, such as plaque psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, adult Crohn’s disease, pediatric Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and ankylosing spondylitis, but blocking TNF-alpha may reduce the inflammation in your body.

COMING SOON:

A possibly lengthy, hopefully not boring post about the hula-hoops I have to jump through and numerous handstands I must do in order to afford to get this treatment.  Without insurance , the total charges for Remicade and its administration = $6,275.00 – EVERY TWO MONTHS. I probably don’t have to tell you that my crappy insurance doesn’t pay for all of it. Thank God for The Patient Access Network Foundation, which has allowed me to continue with Remicade and therefore let me live a fairly normal life (instead of one of intense pain and probably bound to a wheelchair).  But yes, more on this later.

(P.S. My knee is better and it does not miss the peas)

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