Not Throwing Away My Shot

By Michael Bootle
Updated 2024-03-24 14:26:12 | Published 2022-09-26 02:28:37
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  • Psoriatic Arthritis
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    • In the Psoriatic Arthritis section of the iMedix Blog, delve into topics around this inflammatory arthritis linked to psoriasis. Find information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and living tips, providing valuable support for patients and their caregivers.

woman preparing syringe

In some of the online groups and social media communities I'm part of for psoriatic arthritis, I've noticed a trend of people trying to avoid medication. Some prefer to explore diet and exercise as alternatives, while others worry about the potential side effects of medication. I have a great deal of respect for both perspectives.

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Upon receiving my diagnosis, my doctor immediately discussed medication as a possible treatment option. Personally, I didn't hesitate to start taking medication. My mother has always believed in the power of medication to cure ailments, and I share the same belief. I was in my twenties when I was diagnosed with arthritis pain and psoriasis, and I was absolutely miserable. Medication seemed like the best solution.

For my first medication, my mother's friends who had taken it warned me about potential side effects and suggested taking it on a Friday to allow for recovery on Saturday. As always, my mother's advice proved valuable. I felt quite ill on Saturday – with a terrible headache, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Despite this, I continued taking the medication. Eventually, my doctor switched me to an injectable version, which he believed would be easier for me. While it helped to some extent, I still experienced difficult Saturdays. Last summer, I had to go off the medication due to being on antibiotics, and I noticed a significant difference in my pain and stiffness, as well as the appearance of psoriasis spots. This confirmed that the medication was indeed helping me.

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In addition to that medication, I have also tried various disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These are different from over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. I started taking these early on in my treatment, and it was through this process that I became familiar with the concept of prior authorization with insurance. This entails the insurance company approving the doctor's prescription, which can be a lengthy and important process. During this time, I had to self-administer injections using a syringe in my stomach. It felt unnatural to stick a needle in such a sensitive area, but I eventually got used to it, although I still disliked it.

A few years later, I was prescribed a new medication in the form of an auto-injector pen. This was much easier for me to use. All I had to do was rest it on my stomach, press a button, and the needle would automatically go in without me having to see it. I barely even felt it. This second drug also significantly improved my disease, allowing me to regain control of my life. However, it also came with the warning that it could make fighting infections more challenging. Since I frequently dealt with infections, my doctor suggested switching to a third medication that was easier on my immune system and didn't require injections. Although it wasn't as effective, I chose to stick with the second drug due to its positive impact on my symptoms. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I chose what was best for me.

Currently, I'm on my fourth medication because the second one started losing its effectiveness. These medications are not like short-term drugs that you take for a week or two and then get better. I will likely be on them for life. It's a lot to process and manage because psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that doesn't simply go away. However, I understand that these medications can help prevent further damage to my joints and overall health. It's important to note that not all medications work the same for everyone, and some may not work at all. I have friends with arthritis who have tried numerous medications in search of relief.

Like all medications, there are potential side effects to consider. Before starting any medication, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare professional and pharmacist. They can provide information about potential side effects and advise on what to look out for. In my case, one of my medications interacts with antibiotics, so I have to stop taking it when I need to take antibiotics.

For me, I have made the decision to continue with my medication regimen. I take one injection weekly and another medication every four weeks. I know that these medications have improved my quality of life and continue to do so. While they don't cure my psoriatic arthritis, they help keep it under control for now. Choosing to take medication was a decision I made and am content with. Yes, there are drawbacks, but I weighed them against the benefits and chose what felt best for me. I encourage you to do the same. Stay connected with others who have psoriatic arthritis for support by joining our Facebook Support Group.

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