Stiffness. Pain. Swelling. Every day. The lab results bore out the symptoms I was facing, and I was not surprised in the slightest. My erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a test that shows inflammation in the body, was through the roof, and my doctor was not pleased. The inflammation markers were way too high and dangerous if they continued that way.
I woke up every morning with so much discomfort. It affected my sleep greatly as the inflammation, while not painful at night, still made my body not relax enough and I wasn't getting restful sleep. As I had previously mentioned, the pill medication the doctor gave me was not working. I had thought it was initially, but it was clear, just by looking at my psoriasis lesions and the tiredness and the fluid ever-present in my knees, that any positive outlook was likely a placebo effect. And all this after my body finally got used to this new medication and the bowel issues disappeared! Just my luck!
It was time to discuss new options. One was a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, or DMARD, which is a very old "tried and true" medication. However, it did not please me to hear that it is used on cancer patients. And it surely didn't help when the doctor casually mentioned that a not-so-low percentage of users experienced hair loss. I was/am already balding, and the thought of my hair thinning even more did not please me in the slightest! But it was only a weekly dosage, despite being five pills taken at the same time, which I found weird, yet not something I'd have to remember to take every day, so I reluctantly said yes. The doctor, as always, was understanding and never gave any option as a last resort.
I regretted every moment of that DMARD. Severe fatigue, nausea, and likely the anxiety of worrying about hair loss made me hate it rather quickly. I had to take folic acid to supplement the medication, which annoyed me because psychologically, it meant that the medication somehow couldn't function on its own without having a "correction." In my mind, no medication should require a vitamin supplement.
I also had to take a cough medication to reduce the stomach issues. In fact, this was something I discovered myself online, and while the doctor had never heard of it, when I asked her about it, she did her research and was happy to authorize me to do so after seeing the positive effect it can have. This also made me happy, as my doctor was willing to learn new paths of treatment.
Despite the reduction in stomach problems, I still was a mess with the drug. It also didn't help that a friend with rheumatoid arthritis informed me he took it for years with decent success, but even his doctor was slowly weaning him off the medication due to newer and better treatments available. I gave it about a month, and the doctor had no problem taking me off of it. What was my next step? In my next blog, I'll discuss the new options the doctor presented to me!
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