Year: 2019

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Understand your RA risk

Journal, November 2, 2019 Drug choices I have written my last few articles on the subject of RA biologic drugs. Why? For several reasons. I am finally starting to do housekeeping on my web site. Long overdue. I have a plan to make my site a place for useful, easy to find information on the autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis. I have some good articles already, but I also have a bit of clutter. My new articles begin with the drugs that will affect the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. I chose Actemra because I am currently on it. Before I started the year long treatment for my last cancer, I had started Actemra infusions. The drug was working but was stopped because of surgery, chemo and radiation. I am now on the Actemra subcutaneously with the prefilled syringe. I take my second dose today. It is an easy process. I believe it will work. I chose Orencia as the subject for another  article because I had written a number of posts while I was taking the …

My Journey with Orencia

I published this series of posts during the year I was on Orencia. The following are my experiences. August 2015-August 2016 Tomorrow I have my first infusion of Orencia. It is a biologic used to relieve symptoms and slow the joint destruction of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have just read the medical insert for Orencia. The studies are hopeful. (Having statistics in college finally pays off. The infusion  will take 30 minutes. My son is going with me. He is good company and a morale booster. In two weeks I will have another infusion. At one month I will start infusions monthly. I will be happy to have the infusions as long as they help. I have read endless online comments of those who have taken Orencia. They have met with success for the most part. Success means less pain, less disability. It means more energy. It means more life. Orencia , after three months I knew Orencia was working for me one week after my first infusion. Swelling in my hands, ankles and feet gradually …

More About RA Drug Orencia

Orencia Abatacept Abatacept, trade name Orencia,  is a biologic medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Ads for it have been on tv.  It reduces the inflammation that causes some of the symptoms of RA. It is also used for adult psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Response to expect                                                                                                                     According to clinical trials of Orencia use, up to 75% of patients had a 20% improvement at six months. About 50% had up to a 50% improvement. About 13% had a 75% improvement. In these studies, methotrexate was also being given. Pill, shot or IV?                                                      …

More about RA drug Actemra

Actemra     Tocilizumab     TCZ Actemra is a biologic drug used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is also approved for giant cell arteritis, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA), systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Response to expect                                                                                                                              At 24 weeks of weekly injections, 69% of those with RA had a 20% improvement in  symptoms. Additionally, 47% had a 50% improvement and 24% had a 70% improvement. That leaves 31% with no improvement. None of the biologics work for everyone. Pill, shot or IV? Actemra is a rheumatoid arthritis drug that is a large molecule. What that means is that Actemra would not work as a pill and must …

Stronger with exercise

  October 2019 I am amazed that I feel so much better. It has been a gradual process, a yearlong process. Recovery from the treatment of a rare uterine cancer is long, discouraging at times and scary at others. I say scary because the fatigue and the use of a brain that seems murky and sluggish is not something I would want to live with permanently. My fear was that this mental and physical slowness might just be permanent. So, I am relieved, quietly jubilant. My spark has re-ignited and I feel alive again. I am now able to go to the gym without being worn out for the day. My legs are stronger. I am becoming sturdy. I am reading again. I just finished Educated by Tara Westover and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her evolution from a brain washed, isolated child into a creative, educated and accomplished woman is inspirational. In the last few months I have found a comfort zone in riding the recumbent bike for 45 minutes three times a week at Planet …

Elderly Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis

Blog: EORA, Elderly Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis October 2019 As we get older, our youthful bodies start to lose some of the agility and endurance we have always expected of ourselves. We slow down. Late nights aren’t as fun as they used to be. Food choices change. Spicy food may suddenly seem too spicy. Climbing stairs isn’t quite as easy as it once was. Aging is a gradual process and we adjust to it as we go. Some of us feel lucky to be alive. We have friends and family who have died from cancer or heart disease. We may have the experience of surviving war, illness or accidents. And we have finally learned that we are not immortal. We see the calendar pages fly by and are starting to wonder about the condition of our maturing bodies. We look more closely at our medical insurance plan and we start making appointments with our primary care providers. We are prescribed the classic medications, a statin and maybe  a blood pressure pill. We promise ourselves to walk …

Plaquenil and the eye

I have a question about the drug, Plaquenil, AKA hydroxychloroquine. My interest stems from the book I am writing, Nurse Mary’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis. After reading several additional medical reports about Plaquenil, I realized I needed to look further and to expand its section in the medication chapter of my book. Another reason for my interest was that I had been taking Plaquenil for six years for my RA.  I was taking it in addition to methotrexate injections and Medrol. I had  also been taking it while I was taking tamoxifen for breast cancer. I no longer take tamoxifen as I developed a rare serous uterine cancer associated with using the drug. None of my doctors questioned the risk involved in taking both drugs. I also made the mistake in thinking Plaquenil was a mild drug. In fact, it does treat mild RA and more aggressive RA when given in combination with other drugs. The drug itself is not mild. Hydroxychloroquine  was developed as an antimalarial in 1955. It was a refined version with …

I’m Back

I have completed chemotherapy and I have completed radiation. At this point I think I am cured. It’s been a long year. I am grateful as I have friends who are not as fortunate. In addition to  being diagnosed with another cancer this year, my computer died. The new one arrived Friday. It is nice to be up and running again. My RA doc has moved on to the VA. She is going to be working on research projects as well as seeing patients. I have followed her as I am a Vet.  She is happy. She had spent several of her student years working at the VA and appreciates its culture. She has ordered Voltaren Gel for the pain I have in my feet. The pain is a problem for me when I go to bed. Voltaren is a topical gel of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory. It arrived this morning. I will let you know if it works for me. Albuquerque has been one of the cold spots in the nation. It’s been down to …