When I was 33, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I will be 36 on Thursday. I started out taking several different drugs with no real relief, each flare coming on worse than the last one until finally, I was unable to get out of bed. That was when I started taking Arava about 2 years ago. I started out with 20mg per day dose and did well for a year. Side effects are not severe other than some intestinal stuff that I won't mention and my hair falling out but I take Folic Acid to counteract that. Since I was doing so well, my rheumotoligist and I decided to lower my does to 10mg that lasted for about a year. That was when I decided I was in remission and did not need meds anymore. I decided this without talking to my rheumatologist of course. That was the beginning of April.
After I made this decision I had a regular follow up appointment with my doctor and told her the news. She was not pleased but asked that I promise to call her when (yes she said when) I had a flare and not let it go untreated as this can cause permanent damage to my joints. She understood my need to prove something to myself I am sure she sees patients like me all the time. My reasons were pretty simple, how would I know if I was in remission if I was on medication? I also am not supposed to drink while taking Arava so I enjoy a glass of wine here and there guilt free, and last but not least I hate needles and when on this drug I have to have my blood checked every 6 weeks. I was tired of all that and wanted to see if it was necessary.
Evidently they taught my rheumatologist a thing or two in medical school and it was necessary. This past Saturday night Brent and I cleaned my car. While he did the outside I did the inside. You would not believe how gross it was but the bottom line was it took a large amount of scrubbing (manual dexterity) on my part. Sunday morning I was in pain and could not open my left hand. It has continued and my left foot among other joints are now bothering me.
I started back on the meds last night. Unfortunately, it takes 6 to 12 weeks for them to kick in....it is going to be a long summer with my old friend RA.