A lot has been going on lately with my RA and I really haven’t wanted to talk or write about it. But, I suppose I should give some sort of an update. I’m still on the evil prednisone, but I’m starting to taper down as of today. I saw my rheumatologist last week and he increased the dose to 20 mg (I think I was on 10 for a week or so) for a week and then told me to call him, which I did yesterday. My flare-up has definitely improved since starting the prednisone again but I’m still having pain in both ankles. After speaking with my doctor’s nurse yesterday afternoon, she relayed the message that I’m supposed to start tapering down to 15 mg for four days, then 10 mg for four days, then call the office again. She said that since I haven’t seen a lot of improvement increasing to 20 mg that I should start to taper down. That’s certainly fine with me – I hate being on the stuff. However I’m willing to put up with prednisone’s nasty side effects or just about anything else to make the flare-up and pain go away. My Remicade I.V. infusion was also last Friday so hopefully that will start to kick in.
Wow I haven’t posted in nearly two months – sorry for that! Things have been crazy and busy and…challenging. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery in October and I’ve actually been suffering through a pretty bad flare-up for the last 2-3 weeks. BOTH ankles have been really painful making it difficult to walk or be on my feet much. My hands and wrists have also been bothering me during this time, so I’m fairly confident it’s the RA flaring up and not something else. But who knows. My next Remicade infusion is Jan. 27th so hopefully that will help get rid of it. I also finally managed to speak with my rheumatologist’s nurse today and she told me that my doctor wants me to go on prednisone again for the next couple weeks until I see him on Jan. 26th. Great, PREDNISONE. I’ve been trying so hard to stay off this drug; I haven’t taken it since August. Before that I was able to be off of it for an entire year before a bad flare-up forced me to go back on it again. The thought of taking it now is very depressing and makes me feel anxious and kind of sick inside. But what can I do? The pain and swelling in my ankles is driving me crazy – it can’t go on like this.
I had my Remicade infusion yesterday and it went fine, as usual. And it was boring, as usual. There was a young girl in the “infusion bay” next to me who was watching TV and had Ru Paul’s reality drag show blaring. So annoying. There was a young guy in another bay blabbing really loudly too, which was also getting on my nerves. If I have to sit hooked up to an I.V. for three hours I’d prefer it to be quiet, but eh, what can you do? I had planned to read a lot more of my book but instead wasted a lot of time playing with my new iPhone. So addictive! That’s all I have to report, really. I’m glad the infusion is done until the next one in eight weeks. Then I’ll have to start fighting with my insurance company and deal with the stress of getting financial assistance for the year. My insurance “starts over” January 1st AKA turns to crap. I know I shouldn’t complain though because at least I have insurance. I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who have RA or other chronic illnesses who can’t afford insurance. It’s criminal, really. I end up paying a ton in out-of-pocket costs, but I’d be so far in debt if I didn’t have any insurance.
Ah, what else is new? I drove again tonight for a bit. Exciting! I also have not taken any pain medications today, although I might have to pop a Percocet before bed. Ok, I’m going to go watch a movie or something.
I just read this article on BBC.com about the drug firm Merck & Co. agreeing to pay almost $1 billion to settle criminal and civil charges regarding the drug Vioxx – which was often prescribed for people with rheumatoid arthritis. I remember when Vioxx got pulled from the shelf but I had never taken the drug myself. I did take Celebrex for a while which also has major health risk warnings related to heart attack and stroke (like Vioxx), but it never really did anything for me so I stopped it. Has anybody else had any experiences with Vioxx? Or Celebrex? I’ve been really lucky over the years that I’ve never had any bad side effects from all of the different medications I’ve taken. *Knock on wood* that continues! It’s scary to think about, but a lot of these drugs for RA are very powerful and can be quite dangerous. However it can also be dangerous to not take the medications, which is frustrating.
Check out the article – “Merck & Co. agrees $1bn Vioxx settlement in US”
Sorry I’ve taken so long to post again. I’ve been busy, ah, lying around being bored and feeling pathetic, I guess. Actually it’s been almost four weeks since the surgery and my ankle does feel better, which is wonderful. I drove for the first time today which was very exciting (it really was). I only drove a short distance though so I’m not sure how far I can go without it hurting too much. I don’t want to aggravate it and set myself back, of course. I’m dying to get out of the house though!
A lot of things have been happening regarding my RA, and well, with everything really. I’m having surgery on my right ankle again on October 31st (I hope my surgeon doesn’t play any “tricks” on me in the operating room). It’s the same surgery I had five years ago – the doctor is going to scope my ankle to try to see what’s going on in there. Like last time, I have a feeling that he’ll also end up removing inflamed synovial tissue. The frustrating thing about my ankles, the right one in particular, is that nothing ever shows up on the MRIs and X-ray scans yet I continue to have debilitating pain and swelling. As the surgery date gets closer, I’m starting to get more nervous and scared, but I just hope the surgery is more of a success than it was last time. I had my pre-op physical yesterday and I’m good to go. Whoohoo! Happy Halloween, eh?
I’m so glad it’s Friday! This has been a long, stressful week. In bad news, my ankles and feet are still in rough shape and are very swollen and painful. I wound up going to the ER Tuesday night because I was kind of freaking out and didn’t want to wait for a doctor appointment. Thankfully all of the blood/urine tests came back normal. The doctor told me that she thinks I just have a random case of edema and she prescribed a diuretic for me to take for a week (Lasix). Today is Day 2 of taking the water pill and I don’t notice anything different. I also don’t feel like I’m having to go to the bathroom more often. So now I’m afraid that the swelling is from the RA. My rheumatologist’s nurse is supposed to be calling me back today about this. When I talked to her a few hours ago and explained what was going on, she didn’t seem to think that my swollen feet/ankles are from the RA. But who knows, right? Most of the time with this disease I can never get a certain answer or diagnosis which DRIVES ME CRAZY. It’s so maddening. I really hope this swelling problem gets sorted soon because I feel like I’m really on the verge of not being able to handle it. What that means, exactly, I don’t know – but I’m close to it.
In good news, my new glasses came in a couple days ago (which I am sporting in the above photo). They’re different than my old frames and a bit bigger, but I think I really like them. Change is hard for me sometimes – arthritis flare-ups, new illnesses, new jobs, new glasses. Stress! I keep trying to tell myself that change can be good. I probably look even more like a librarian in these specs, but that’s fine with me. Librarians are pretty awesome.
Ok, I better get back to “work.” Happy weekend!