it’s been exactly a month since i received my diagnosis for RA, and i have to say, i feel pretty great.

my rheumatologist put me on prednisone taper (20mg for one week, then 15mg, then 10mg, then 5mg). i noticed the drug kick in right away but was a little nervous about the side effects — everyone said i’d be hungry to the point of no return, gain weight because of it, and feel whirly or unable to sleep. all i really felt was the sensation of my heart beating rapidly and as if it were coming out of my chest when i’d do any sort of physical exertion (even walking up stairs or down the hall quickly). some nights i didn’t pass out on the couch as early as i normally would, i’d be up until i fell asleep easily around midnight. after i tapered down to 15mg and especially to 10mg, i didn’t notice the heart beating anymore, nor did i notice evening awakeness. i pretty much seemed like my normal self.

that said, i am continuing on the 5mg now. some mornings i wish i were still taking 10 (which my doctor said i could do as needed but i haven’t). now that i’m down to 5mg, i notice a bit of swelling in a few of the knuckles that gave me the most problems originally and the tingling feeling in my feet is sometimes present for just 3-4 steps when i get out of bed. such a significant and total improvement from where i was four weeks ago when i could barely walk for hours upon waking up. i’ll take it!

i know the prednisone is a miracle drug and mask, just causing the symptoms to disappear and doing nothing to stop the RA itself from getting worse. the next step is to start on 150mg of plaquenil per day. i was supposed to begin last week but because i had a horrid chest cold, the doctor told me i had to wait until back to normal so my immune system could heal. the plaquenil is a dmard, so it’s going to stop the RA by weakening my immune system.

at the first follow up exam with my rheumatologist, he immediately wanted to put me on methotrexate — the most commonly prescribed DMARD and what is commonly used as a cancer drug. i’ve heard this drug is incredibly evasive on the body but also very effective. i was open minded and when the dr. told me i’d need liver tests every three months i figured it would just be a fact of life. so my next question was: how will this medication effect other medications i’m taking? it won’t, he said but that probed a new question: how much alcohol do i drink on average? i wanted to be honest… let’s face it, i have an active social life. i told him i’d guess about 10 drinks per week on if i got out on friday and saturday with friends for a few drinks (happy hour, anyone?) and then once or twice with a friend for dinner during the week. he immediately changed his mind and suggested the plaquenil.

basically, i’d have to drastically change my lifestyle to go on methotrexate. he didn’t suggest the plaquenil at first because it is slower to take effect (if it even does at all) meaning i’ll need to stay on the prednisone longer than planned… which isn’t great but isn’t all that awful either.

together we agreed the plaquenil was worth a try. i expect to be back to my cough-and-congestion-free self again on monday and will start plaquenil hen. not expecting any side effects other than an annual eye exam to check for blind spots (nbd!).

otherwise, everything has been going so much better than before i was diagnosed. i am back to popping out of the bed in the morning, i have energy (not sure if i was really fatigued before or just normal-tired), and my hands have all their proper rings on their proper fingers — basically what i’m saying is, no pain! 

the bruised color and swelling in the mass in my right foot is (for the most part) gone too. this could just be the prednisone taking effect but we’re going reimage it in a few months. if it’s a rheumatoid nodule after all, it may go away once the drugs kick in. fingers crossed.

my yoga practice has been strong and back to normal with the exception of being super busy and not getting to class as often as i’d like. can’t complain… things are good!

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