As the biological medicine Cimzia slowly stopped working for me over the past couple of months, and I awaited a new treatment regimen from my rheumatologist (it’s Humira and the first injection is tonight!), the symptoms of RA began to flare up including an increase in joint pain, stiffness, butt kicking fatigue, and a general blah feeling. I told my doctor that I was fortunate to get in 3-4 hours of continuous work in a day. It was not uncommon to need a nap or to be in bed by 8:30 at night and sleep 11-12 hours. Some sort of quick, temporary relief was needed until the Humira starts working (notice the statement in the affirmative?). Out came the methylprednisolone or Medrol pack, a powerful anti-inflammatory corticosteroid. As one site indicates, “Methylprednisolone is used to achieve prompt suppression of inflammation.”[i] But I usually avoid taking prednisone due to the numerous side effects. They are powerful drugs and that’s why I call them the “nuclear weapon against RA.” But I was at a point where I felt that I had no choice.
The other day I took a 4mg prednisone pill in the morning. Within an hour I felt much better including increased energy and decreased pain. I went about my work without much problem but noticed that I began to droop in the afternoon. It dawned on me that the relief from the steroid was rather short-lived…about 3-4 hours. So, I reached into my handy bag of pills and took another one. That got me through the work day until I could crash at home. It was clear that prednisone is great at knocking down the inflammation caused by RA. But, the side effects began to rear their ugly head. I began to experience increased hunger, feeling jacked up, difficulty sleeping, and other digestive symptoms which need not be detailed. Today, the prednisone, combined with multiple shots of espresso, is fueling the writing of this blog! But I can’t do this much longer. Humira…please do your thing!
I’m thankful for prednisone when I need it but realize that it is only for the short term. It’s always there in my box of meds just in case.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/betacells/