All posts tagged: Orencia

Mary’s RA Journal

Mary’s RA Journal May 2021 Year nine I was diagnosed with RA eight years ago. The onset seemed sudden. But was it? My RA started in my feet. I was one of the 20% whose symptoms started in their feet. My internist thought I was too old to have RA. He seemed to think my feet were fine. As recent as eight years ago, rheumatologists did not routinely examine a patient’s feet. They believed RA started in the small joints of the hands. Examining the feet was inconvenient. Examining the feet took too muctook to much time. My symptoms increased. My pain became severe. I was very sick. As a victim of an unresponsive healthcare system, I finally sought relief in the ER. I was fortunate to be seen by a knowledgeable doctor who treated me and sent me to a rheumatologist. My career as a rheumatoid arthritis patient began. I spent years on methotrexate which helped me about 50%. I tried most of the biologics in between being treated for three different cancers.  Orencia …

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RA Journal Progression

Mary’s Arthritis Journal May 8, 2021 I have always been amazed by those who can work through illness. I once had a friend who had a chronic leukemia. During episodes of chemo, she found that she could not sleep. Instead of watching endless Netflix, she spent her nights researching and writing a successful blog on ghost stories. She used her down time to her advantage. I am not like her. I wallow. I vegetate. My brain seems to stop working. When my rheumatoid arthritis is sending inflammatory messengers throughout my body, when pain is attacking every moveable joint, when I have depleted my stores of coping, I retreat. My body feels sick. My research goes on hold as does my writing. My mind is stuck in a quagmire. There is only a wish to escape and a hope that there will be an end, and in that end, I will be alive again. I will be okay. My flares are becoming something to be feared. My ankles and my toes remain swollen. It is very …

RA flares without the biologics

I am living through my days without methotrexate. I am not on any of the biologics. Hydroxychloroquine is no help and has been set aside. At first, I felt left alone in the world without armor.  Would a flare become so severe that I would spiral down and down into total pain and immobility as I had in 2013? That was my fear. For years, a low level of pain humming in the background has kept me company. I have a degenerating spine. There are long fancy words for what has attacked my spine. Plainly said, I have a bad back. I could say I inherited it  from my dad. I am accustomed to pain. Now I have RA. Over the years I have learned to ignore the humming pain. However, there is a tipping point after the start of a flare where something needs to be done. As a flare starts  pain grows louder in the small joints in my feet. The rest of my feet ache. My left ankle develops sharp pain making …

Seven year anniversary and infection

It was seven years ago this month. I was acutely ill with my first encounter of rheumatoid arthritis. My illness had not been given a name yet. A week before that I had seen the ER doc who started me on prednisone and who was  sending me to the rheumatologist that I would see in about another week. I had very little sleep. A few hours a night at most. I was in excruciating pain. Life was not good. I can look back with a sense of relief. I no longer have the kind of pain that made me think I had broken glass shards in my joints. It took several years after my diagnosis for my RA to settle down. I never went into remission. My inflammation has always simmered. Methotrexate was my base. I finally settled into 25 mg subq once a week. It helped. After a few years my pain was never quite the same as it was originally. My feet became central to my discomfort. Custom orthotics and Dr Comfort shoes …

Infection and off methotrexate

I stopped taking Actemra. I had only two doses this time. Last week I stopped taking methotrexate. I had been on it since 2013. All this was at  a suggestion from my oncologist who was helping me battle a severe breast infection. The infection started in October 2019. I went to a wound clinic for a month. I had surgery to debride necrotic, radiated breast tissue 13 December. Then the infection returned. Perhaps it had never left. I also developed a severe cellulitis. The cellulitis covered my entire breast or what was left of it. Now the cellulitis is down to a couple of inches. The whole thing was caused by  the radiation treatment that I had for breast cancer in 2013. The radiated tissue became necrotic and infected. It is not uncommon. I wonder what part my RA drugs played in this long standing dilemma. This infection has gone on for three months. I do know that methotrexate should be stopped while a person is on an antibiotic. Methotrexate should not be used at …

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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?                                                    …

EORA or YORA another RA category

Imagine my surprise when I learned about the initials YORA and EORA. YORA is an acronym for Younger Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis as is EORA for Elderly Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. I came to a new understanding of where I am in the scheme of things. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) can strike at any age from babies to the elderly. The elderly’s association with RA can be of long standing disease or it can be a new development. People who develop RA after age 60 are considered EORA. That is me. There are some notable differences with elderly onset RA. Initial symptoms may include large joints. With younger RA  onset small joints of the hands and the feet are usually first signs of joint involvement.  The shoulder joint may be a presenting joint in older onset.  My shoulder was involved initially as was the joints in my hands, wrists, feet, elbows. Initially I was in severe pain. Older adults may have more generalized symptoms. My grip was weak. I lost weight. I couldn’t sleep because of the severity …