Thursday, December 28, 2006

DMARDs and Biologics - A love/hate relationship

It's that day again (well, it was a few days ago, but I was slacking and didn't publish this post)--"shot day" as I have come to refer to it. I both love and hate this day, the day that I take my once weekly doses of Enbrel (the shot) and methotrexate (8 little pills).

Love
I love the day because, well, until about 4 months ago when I started taking Enbrel, I was in ridiculous amounts of pain nine days out of ten. About two months after I began taking Enbrel, I started to have fewer days of pain--now about four out of ten. My previous drug cocktails (Plaquenil, Azulfidine, Methotrexate) helped some, but not nearly as well as the new mix of Enbrel and methotrexate. Up until a few months ago, I was pretty much dependent on prednisone to be able to function at home and at work. Up until this week, I've been off of prednisone for about three months, and hopefully, in a few days, I will be able to completely taper off of the prednisone (6 day quick taper course, though that usually doesn't work and I end up hovering at 10-20 mg of prednisone for quite a while).

HateI hate this day though because it is a reminder of my illness. I am reminded that I will never get better, that each time I take the meds I will be weakening my defenses against illnesses, that the possible side effects could hit me at any time. Of course, there is the pain of the shot itself. Enbrel (the pre-mixed syringe) burns like fire as it goes in. A few seconds of pain is worth it for the relief it provides, but it still sucks. The day after I take Enbrel and methotrexate is rough (nausea, fatigue, weakness), but again, worth it in the long run.

It is difficult, once you find a drug regime that seems to work, to realize that your body can (and will) still revolt. Previously, I didn't worry about that because the drug cocktails I was taking didn't really work all that well, so I expected more pain. Now, after a few months of feeling the best I have in years, I feel let down that the Enbrel/methotrexate combo isn't working as well. The pain is breaking though, and worse, it is coming at me stronger in joints that never bothered me that much before.

I am at war with my body, and I think it is winning this week.