Ten years (in August) I have been diagnosed with RA. I have been through all of the traditional drugs to treat my RA. At my last appointment with my Rheumatologist I requested, we went over the pros and cons and we ultimately decided to, take me off of my Orencia. It was just not doing anything for me. I have been stable for so long that I can FEEL when there is a difference and there just wasn't one. That's a lot of money to be throwing away for no result.
I saw my doctor on Friday. She looked at the still flaring hands and feet and said that it was time to start again. She looked at my record. She listed the LONG list of meds that I have gone through and that have failed. She looked me directly in the eye and said "We have exactly 2 options left. Actemra and Xeljanz, everything else has either failed, and the one other drug we have left is Remicade and that has to be taken with Methotrexate so we have to rule that out." We went on to discuss the two options- both are different pathways, both are home given rather than infusion. One is a shot, one is a pill. Dr. Chase said that given the choice, she would go with Actemra only because it's been around longer so there's been more time to find out any side effects. I trust her, so that's the way we went. But let's face it- either/or: one fails and we move to the next one and then that's it. We will be out of options unless something great comes down the pike.
For a moment, when she outlined where we are and what my options are, I just wanted to cry. I felt hopeless, like a giant failure. I know, I know. It's nothing to do with me-it's my particular RA. It just took me from the moment she said that until I got home to get to that point. I responded beautifully to Methotrexate and would still be on it had it not begun attacking my liver. That is what bothers me the most. Most of the rest of the drugs were okay at first but then just stopped working. Some, I never even felt a difference.
As for the pain meds- I am already on SO much from my perspective. Pain meds, anti-inflammatories, Postheraptic neuralgia meds and muscle relaxers- plus Lasix for the constant water retention/swelling. From here we would have to go to narcotics and I am just not ready to do it. I don't want them. It's bad enough that I have to carry a case when I travel just for my meds, it's bad enough that I have to take a plethora of pills morning, noon and night. It's bad enough that I have enough "fog" from the Fibro and RA that I lose my words. I am not adding the haze of a narcotic on top of it.
Today I call Actemra and set up their lovely co-pay card (thank goodness for these!) and then talk to my pharmacy about sending the first 3 months worth of shots. We shall see what happens but hopefully, this one will be "The One". I am figuratively crossing my fingers for it.