During the treatments for my cancers, my RA was uneventful. Yes, I did have monthly flares that lasted just about 12 days. Yes, I was always in a simmering level of pain. I grinned and bore it like a good Irish Catholic girl. Instead, I focused on surgery, radiation and life changing drugs. I even completed a cancer rehab program.
One day as I was starting a Zumba class, my ankles screamed in a pain that was the equivalent of trying to dance on joints full of shattered glass. Determined, I tried moving my feet differently (how many ways can you move your feet, you might ask). After 10 seconds, I realized that it was futile. I stopped. Since then, it has been downhill. It was a steep hill, I might add.
Although I am on Methotrexate (a life saver for me), Plaquenil, (Sulfasalazine did not work for me), meloxicam, prednisone and all the supporting drugs, I am still progressing. All the little joints in my feet and my ankles are inflamed and swollen. The swelling has moved into my feet and ankles. I am so swollen that it is hard to walk. And that is just the joints in my feet. However, I have no intention of boring you with the rest of my joint assessment.
My point is that RA, in a large number of cases, keeps getting worse. The drugs eventually don’t work, and the choices of alternatives keep getting smaller.
I had an emergency appointment with my rheumatologist yesterday. Yes, my RA is out of control. Time for a biologic (she had been suggesting that we might need to go in that direction for a while now.) Boy am I ready! The eyeopener was that with all new drugs out there, my choice will probably be only one drug. Possibly two. Why? I had cancer. I probably still have cancer. Most biologics are not compatible with cancer. I did not know this. Scary thought.
I was given a pneumonia vaccine booster, sent for a shingles vaccine, a new prescription for more pain medicine and lots of labs. All prep work for the next step. She will track down a clearer picture of my thyroid cancer, discuss options with colleagues and discuss the next step at next week’s appointment.
Phew! I am supremely lucky to have my doctor. She belongs in the Doctors Hall of Fame.
18 months after diagnosis