Just about two years ago, I wrote a post about life as a two-shot girl lamenting the fact that my rheumatologist at the time didn't think I was quite ready to halve my dosage of Enbrel. Though a wee bit disappointed, I felt partially relieved as the idea of shaking up my drug regimen, though it was working pretty well, freaked me out. When all was said and done, I was fine with not rocking the pharmaboat. In other words, if it ain't broke, don't stop medicating it.
That is no longer the case. After three full years of shooting up not just once, but twice a week due to the insane injection-site reactions the 50mg shot gave me, I am beyond over my double-the-shooting-up-fun drug regimen. Along with the physical fatigue that RA has brought, I have developed a bit of drug fatigue. Mind you, I am diligent in taking them all, but let's just say it's not exactly the high point of my day or week.
Now, I know that many of you are still struggling to find a drug or treatment that works, so I feel a little guilty sharing this news, but I'm so excited about it that I just can't help it. During my appointment with my rheumatologist today, we spent about an hour talking over my plethora of questions and discussing how I'd been feeling since my last appointment. I told him that I'd had to go off my shots for a period of three weeks not once, but twice in the last few months due to nasty colds....but that while off them, I hadn't noticed any increase in pain, fatigue or inflammation. We talked awhile more about how amazing it was that studies are now being done on how to safely taper RA patients off their meds- something that was beyond inconceivable only ten years ago. He examined my joints, gave me a little smile, and declared that I could go down to one 25mg shot of Enbrel a week!!!!!! Now, this is a only a trial-if my symptoms increase, I'll be back to two shots before you can say biologic. I have to get additional X-rays to monitor my joints and keep a journal about any changes I notice BUT as of now, I am cutting my dosage in half.
Take that, RA!
I'm still keeping on with the plaquenil as much as before, but maybe, just maybe, there are fewer shots in my future. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this goes well, and so are my poor little thighs (OK, they aren't so little at the moment, but that's another post), which are so over being pricked every week.
For all of you who are reading this and thinking, gee, how spiffy for her, but I can't even find a drug that works yet, try to hang on. My chat with my rheumatologist today offered a few glimpses into some promising and exciting drugs and research studies that are being done right now. There are several new drugs in the pipeline that will hopefully be ready for FDA approval within the year or soon after, and they don't involve needles! Plus, he himself is doing research on how to better and more precisely measure patients' individual experiences with their disease, including how it impacts their daily life, in order to deliver tailor-made treatment and management programs for each person with RA. I think that things are going to get better, bit by bit, for all of us. At least they are if my rheumatologist has anything to do with it (he really is totally awesome, if you can't already tell)!
As for me, when next Monday rolls around, this sick chick will only be getting one shot, and that feels pretty darn good.