All posts filed under: Drugs

The core treatment for RA is an arsenal of drugs

I thought I was going bald, it was just the MTX

About six weeks ago, I started noticing my hair thinning. I thought it was odd because my dad had thick hair in his older years. I expected my hair would do the same. My hairdresser also noticed the thinning. It was real. Next, I started noticing bunches of hair on my comb. “My hair is falling out,” I thought. Right again. I quickly realized that it was the methotrexate (MTX). Hair loss only occurs in 1-3% of those on MTX. I have been on it for five years and the last three years I have been giving myself 25mg injections. It works for me. I am also on hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). Plaquenil can also cause hair loss. I started taking MTX every eight days instead of every seven. Every nine days starts an RA flare. I stick with the eight days. I also cut the Plaquenil to 200 mg daily from 400 mg daily. My hair is no longer falling out. However, my hair hasn’t grown since my last haircut. Unfortunately, it was the second worst …

At the infusion center

I am taking a big chance. I went to the infusion center for a dose of Actemra. Actemra blocks the activity of the messenger cytokine, Interleukin-6. It was the  same routine: sign in at the reception desk, weight, vital signs, 20 questions. I am in a recliner with my feet up. IV started. Blood work. Tylenol and Benadryl to avoid side effects. I think this was the routine for all my infusions. My son, David, was with me. The Actemra infused without incident. I didn’t die. We were there for three hours. I had mixed feelings about this drug. It stemmed from several considerations. I have had a lot of bad luck with the biologics. The last was the TNFi Remicade. After two doses I became so ill I thought it was over. I felt weak and lethargic. No appetite. It lasted a month and I survived. I was reluctant to try another. Actemra was the last one available to me.  My RA Doc feels the drug is safer than no drug because the progression …

Actemra as a possibility for My RA

My journey through the biologic DMARDs  began with infusions of Rituxan. I had no relief from my RA with Rituxan. Next in line were infusions of Orencia. Orencia gave me about 20% relief. At the time it was better than nothing. Orencia worked for over nine months and then stopped working. At the time I had a worse than normal flare and developed a horrible flu. Up to that point I hadn’t had a cold or a sinus infection for 3 years. After about six weeks I was started on infusions of Remicade. Remicade has three loading doses scheduled 2 weeks apart. I completed the loading doses and then became terribly ill. I felt like I was in ‘a failure to thrive’ situation. Absolutely no energy, listless is a good word. I moved into a bad flare which overshadowed the side effects of the Remicade. I was in a bad way for over a month. Remicade is a TNF inhibitor (TNFi). The recommended suggestion is that if a TNFi is stopped because it doesn’t work, another TNFi …