Pain without pain relief

February 3, 2015

I’ve been having a flare-up for the last three days or so in both feet and ankles, hands, and my right wrist. My shoulder too, I think (sometimes it’s so hard to tell which pain is which). And, in great frustration (and pain), I’m out of pain medication. Once again these new, stricter FDA regulations on narcotics are causing me additional and unnecessary suffering. And I know I’m not the only one.

So, sorry for complaining, but I think this issue needs to be talked about. I’d also like to point out that if I had easier access to pain treatment (which is obviously legitimate and not abusive), I would not be missing work this week. I’m losing. My bank account is losing. Society/the economy is losing. And my sweet kindergarten students are losing their teacher.

Here’s a good opinion piece I read today from The Boston Globe by Donald N.S. Unger:

“My Chronic Pain Isn’t A Crime”

This hits home, unfortunately.

Actemra (tocilizumab)

January 31, 2015

infusion3

Receiving my Actemra infusion, 1/26/15

 

Monday, January 26, I had my first Actemra infusion. I’m not sure how to feel or react to this, exactly. Hooray? Congrats to me? Holy shit? THIS BETTER WORK? In any case, it’s a new chapter in my RA life. Actemra is now the fifth biologic drug I’ve tried since I first began biologic injections/infusions, starting with Enbrel in autumn 2002. I can’t believe I’ve been on them that long! Luckily (I’ve been very lucky) I haven’t had problems with side effects with any of these still fairly new medications.

Before beginning Actemra on Monday, I received bi-monthly Remicade infusions for about seven years (for the second time). I had been on Remicade once before from approximately 2004-2007, then I switched to Humira injections because I moved to France briefly to teach English (my doctor and I decided it would be easier to do injections in a foreign country rather than trying to sort out getting infusions while abroad). When I returned home to Minneapolis from France, I switched to monthly infusions of Orencia, basically because I really hated giving myself shots; I never got used to doing it. I can’t remember how long I stayed on Orencia, but my rheumatologist and I decided that if I was going to stick with I.V. infusions, Remicade seemed to work a bit better for me. So after a brief time on Orencia, back to Remicade it was.

A few months ago my rheumatologist and I finally decided that it was time to change my RA treatment and try a new biologic. Remicade just didn’t seem to be working that well anymore. I was on prednisone more often than I wasn’t due to frequent and stubborn flare-ups. One of our main goals for my treatment has always been to stay off of prednisone. And now that I try to remember, I think it’s been at least a few years since I’ve been off of it consistently for more than a few months at a time.

So! While starting a new medication can be scary and worrying, I’m also trying to be hopeful and positive that Actemra will be a good turning point in helping to stabilize my RA and maybe even put me into “remission” for the first time. I’m so ready to have a good long stretch of significantly decreased pain and flares and especially a nice lengthy period of NO PREDNISONE.

I hope this works.

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2015

dietcoke

Today is Day 1 of NO DIET COKE. And Day 1 of actively working on my New Year’s resolutions–or “intentions”–as I wrote about them in a recent article on RheumatoidArthritis.net.

I wrote about five main ones, but there are so many more. Maybe I should start a blog about resolutions and how many I can actually fulfill? Hmm. Not a bad idea although it could prove to be quite depressing when I resolve to, say, reply to all of my e-mails one day and instead wind up on the couch watching a marathon of The Love Boat. Um, not that I’ve done this before, of course.

But today, I did not drink one single can of Diet Coke! What did you do or not do?

Here’s the article if you want to read it:

“New Year’s Intentions”

I hope everyone has a VERY HAPPY New Year and that you will find success and joy following through with your own Intentions for 2015!

Could I do a podcast?!

December 5, 2014

So I’ve been recently thinking about the idea of starting my own RA/arthritis/health podcast. I already volunteer at an awesome community radio station in Minneapolis, KFAI, and I have a passion for radio, storytelling, journalism, and spreading arthritis awareness.

Would you guys listen? Would anybody listen? Could I do it and not sound like a total moron? Let me know your thoughts, please!

Here’s an article I wrote for RheumatoidArthritis.net recently about the change in federal regulations regarding certain pain medications. I’m not very happy about these changes, to put it mildly. It’s now even more difficult for people with chronic pain to get the relief they need. Luckily I live in a state right now where I’m not required to go to the doctor for an office visit just to get a handwritten prescription from him (and therefore charged $200+ for the office visit). A couple of new friends I met in New York and New Jersey over the last two weeks have to deal with this. It’s ridiculous and discriminatory, in my opinion. Something needs to be done! Nobody should have to be in pain in the first place. Nor should anyone be forced to suffer additional pain because of government laws that hurt patients instead of helping them.

Here’s the article:  “A Major PAIN”

Opinions

August 18, 2014

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Hello from beautiful North Carolina! I’ve been here since August 12th, initially for a medical appointment at Duke University Medical Center with an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist/surgeon. The appointment was a huge let-down, to put it mildly. But I’m glad that I decided to extend my stay and make a holiday of this trip. I’ve been staying on an incredible little island called Ocracoke, which is part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks since last Friday night. I really lucked out in choosing this place, as well as the cute and charming B&B I randomly found online. I’ve been so impressed with the island, the village, the B&B, the beaches. Everything.

You can read more about my Duke and NC experience in the post I recently wrote for RheumatoidArthritis.net:

“First, Second, 20th Opinions”

Tomorrow is my last full day here and I’m sad thinking about it. I’m not ready to go back home! I love the ocean so much and I have to say that island life certainly agrees with me. Alone time is something that I’ve been severely lacking for several months; I didn’t realize how much I needed this vacation.

Countdown!

July 22, 2014

PREDNISONE TAPERING COUNTDOWN DAY…?

I’m not sure what week/day I’m on except that I went down to 7 mg at the start of this week. HOORAY! I WILL reach 0 soon. Staying at 0 is the main goal, though, and that tends to be tricky.

Milligram by milligram I will get off of this drug. Then the next hurdle–tapering off the Xanax and Vicodin. I’m not looking forward to that. I’m actually really nervous of withdrawal/tolerance side effects, but I know I can do it.

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