This post is a continuation of what I wrote yesterday so you may want to check that out first to get up to speed…
I should take a second to explain the “normal” progression of RA. Typically, the first three years after diagnosis are the most active and are therefore the most crucial in terms of medical intervention. Just to give you an example, a girl I went to university with went from diagnosis to spending most of her time either in a wheelchair or on crutches within 6 months. Nothing like that has happened to me and it does not seem like it is really progressing. I am not a typical case at all. Nonetheless, the test results came back and all is not well. I have some pretty serious inflammation around most of my joints in my feet and hands (as discovered by the MRIs), which suggests that this could be the case through most of my body. My rheumatologist believes that left untreated this will cause permanent damage to my joints, but she also theorizes that although I had an initial “start” of RA it seems to have never really gained momentum and progressed as it normally would. So we are kind of hoping that we can just turn it off. It is all a bit confusing to me but it is also pretty confusing to my doctor. As I said, this just isn’t typical, but my symptoms best “fit” in the RA category.
So, where are we now? My doctor has recommended that I start taking methotrexate for three months or so to see if this medication will help get things under control. I won’t bore you with the details, but if you are interested in learning more about this drug, and specifically it’s use in RA you can check out this link. The weirdest thing about this drug is that it is much more effective as an injection than a pill so I have to give myself a needle once per week. I am not scared of needles, but poking one into myself is a pretty strange experience. I should clarify that I am not injecting this into my veins (I don’t think I could do that) but into my upper thighs (“where there’s fat” is what I was told). I am three weeks into treatment and so far I have not noticed any positive changes, but apparently methotrexate takes 6 to 8 weeks to really kick in. Side effects include: feeling terrible. Luckily, this only lasts about 24 hours for me, but manifests in me having nausea and extreme fatigue. I am hoping that my body will get used to this and it will be less severe in the future. I am also taking folic acid as this is supposed to help with some of the side effects, but also replenish folic acid stores in my body that the medication depletes.
So that’s pretty much where I am right now. I am still trying to focus on overall healthy living; probably I should focus on it even more so now that I am on medication, which is potentially negatively affecting parts of my body. I go back to my rheumatologist in a few months with a fresh batch of blood work to see what is going on, if anything. In the long-term, if this does not work she can apply for a government grant for me to go on better and newer medication, but we can’t do that without first showing them that we tried all other options. I am typically pretty anti-meds, but if this can actually help to put a permanent stop on my RA then I am willing to give it a shot (pun not-intended?). I’ll make sure to write an update in a month or so. I promise it will be shorter.