All posts tagged: RA drugs

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 …

Lockdown Update

We are still locked down. We go to Costco and to Smiths. We travel out with our masks and our hand sanitizers. Those we meet are friendly and have smiling eyes behind their masks. If a person depended on reading lips to understand another, they are currently out of luck. Who would have guessed? Certainly not last September. Life changes so quickly. My garden is winding down. The squirrels are fat and happy after eating my tomatoes. The roadrunner couple I saw having sex in my back yard now have healthy teenagers who are as aggressive about eating birds as their parents. Our quail population is booming. They love quail blocks and nest along side the squirrels on a little used side of my property. I make bread every couple of days. I have many recipes for rye bread, but rye flour is now unattainable. Not enough planted by the farmers for the current demand. I also make a lot of oatmeal bread. Lucky for me. I make my own buns for bratwurst. I also …

No more methotrexate

RA Dilemma Number Five There is another dilemma to face when you have rheumatoid arthritis. I was surprised by this one. After all, I have had RA for seven years and feel I have covered a lot of ground in that time. I know infection posed  a very high risk while taking RA meds. My mind thought flu or maybe pneumonia. This one started five months ago. Suddenly and out of the blue, my right breast developed a lesion and stated to drain. I felt feverish and went to see my oncologist who sent me to the breast surgeon oncologist down the hall because she was the one who had the ultrasound machine. She came in, introduced herself and looked at my lesion. She instantly knew that it was caused by necrotic breast tissue due to radiation for breast cancer. The radiated tissue gradually degenerates, expands until it pushes through the delicate breast skin and drains. It cultured positive and I was sent to the wound clinic. Eventually, it was determined that the only solution …

Mary Man's RA Journal Icon

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 …

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 …