This morning I am trying very hard to find all of my gratitude toward my medications. I have been dealing with a particularly nasty, unexplained rash since Monday this week and when I finally broke down and called them, my rheumy's office was good enough to get me in early yesterday (I had my regular appointment scheduled for Monday) so that I didn't have to deal with it over the weekend. I met with a new doctor in the office who is cautiously optimistic that it is environmental- though they added Lupus testing to my regular bi-monthly tests just in case- and prescribed me a Medrol pack to get working on this rash.
Steroids are used quite a lot with RA. I laugh when I hear someone say how you can't take them for longer than X amount of time (common "wisdom" seems to be a couple of weeks) when I know folks through the RA boards who have been on something like Prednisone for literally years. My medrol pack is the same thing they give me right away when I am having a flare, so I was familiar with the dosing instructions and side effects. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that though I am fortunate enough to go to sleep very easy even when I am on them- I also don't sleep for very long, which is why I have been up since 3am and am moderately cranky and trying to be grateful for the fact that my itching has somewhat subsided. I know that you can't have the benefits without the side effects, it is just wrapping my brain around that that is tough this morning. So I want to give myself a list of the benefits of my meds as a reminder as the days go on.
Folic Acid- has allowed me to keep my hair! One of the major side effects of Methotrexate (a DMARD which is a chemo drug commonly used for breast cancer as well as RA)is hair loss. There are very few things in my life that I am regularly vain about and my hair was one of them- to the point that when I faced possibly losing it I freaked out and cut it off from my mid back to the longest part being at my earlobes. The folic acid has countered that side effect and though I have noticed some thinning- it is mostly all still there. Now of course I am kicking myself and want it back but I will have to serve my time for that rash decision. f only I had known -lol.
Tramadol is my pain med. I take it two to three times a day. Though I have heard horror stories about folks becoming addicted to it, I have forgotten my meds at home over the weekend and have not had issues other than having to take lots of aleve. Tramadol is a non-narcotic pain reliever that blocks the same neuroreceptors as morphine, but without as large an addictive quality. Basically, after about an hour, it lessens the chronic pain.
Cyclobenzaprine is my muscle relaxer and the only thing we are doing to address Fibromyalgia at this time. It allows me to go to sleep and not wake from muscle pain through the night. This has helped me to lessen my chronic fatigue a great deal.
Methotrexate as I mentioned above, is my DMARD (disease-modifying-anti-rheumetic) and has been a life saver. I can't say enough about it so I will just say that having to give myself a shot every week is a small price to pay for having much use of my hands back after 4 years.
My biologic though not as drastic as the Methotrexate has also been a small wonder. I didn't mention it by name because we are switching again but it has made my nodules disappear and has taken my "completely stiff to normal" time down from 4 hours to about 1.5. That is amazing as I have change my life to accomodate getting up early enough to work out the kinks before I have to face my day.
The hope here is that these will work together to slow the progression of my disease(s) and allow me to live a fuller life. All of these as a cocktail have brought me to a point where I am functioning well again and for that - I cannot help but be grateful!