Three weeks after I started a new medication, for what felt like the one millionth time, I saw there was no improvement. In fact, my condition was probably getting worse. I was one of the lucky few that did not see a lot of visible signs of the RA but my range of motion (especially in my hips and knees) was getting worse. My doctor and I decided to switch back to the medication that made me feel the best (Orencia).

In early December, I slowly started to feel worse and worse, and even my weekly injections of Orencia and Methotrexate would not take the edge of the symptoms that I started to see. I was put on a two-week medical leave from work and from climbing.  You could say I was medically grounded. Upon speculation, it was unsure whether stress contributed to the flare or whether the medications had reached their limit of what they could do for me. Either way, we needed to get this flare down and fast. It was the worst flare up I ever had (this includes my first flare before I was even diagnosed). My father had to bring me my meals because I couldn’t get up the stairs and he almost had to feed me my Christmas dinner because I couldn’t grasp the fork, let alone bring it to my mouth. Talk about a depressing state of affairs.

All that aside, we decided to give the Orencia a try. Before this awful flare, I nearly forgot I had RA. I felt great on a day to day basis. I was not stiff in the mornings, I didn’t have to wake up an hour and a half before work to “loosen” my joints, and I was climbing well without strain or pain! I felt better than I ever had in the past two years!

So, the second week of January I sat for the IV infusion of the Orencia and commenced the weekly injection. Within two days of the infusion, I was bouncing out of bed and I was rock-climbing! It was absolutely amazing. I had started to feel like I permanently lost my ability to climb well.

If I remember correctly, it took a couple of months for the medication to build up in my system so that I felt the same every day of the week (versus feeling good the days after my injection and slowly feeling worse as the week drew on).

That’s ok. I have taken 4 weekly injections since the IV infusion and I am already feeling so much better. Functional would be a good word. Even the day before my injection, I may feel less able but I am still capable of doing everything normally with little pain or stiffness.

I can’t wait for the next few weeks! If the progression of this medication is the same as before I am going to feel great really soon! I am going to feel the way I did before!

Hi, I’m Monica and I have RA.

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