Friday, May 14, 2010

Listening and Trusting My Heart - Rheumatoid Arthritis Update

Well, the Arava didn't work well with my individual body and after two weeks of uncomfortable side effects, I stopped taking it. I have been off it for about three weeks.

Yesterday I was scheduled to see the rheumatologist. As the appointment date got closer, family and friends have asked what I plan to do. Will I take the new suggested med? Will I continue to work alternatively only? My answer has been same with each person. "I am just going to go, see what she has to say and then make a decision."

I woke up yesterday morning feeling pretty good which always brings a positive outlook on life. I taught my class and then headed over for my appointment. I took a deep breath before going into the office and reminded myself that I would make whatever choice is right for me now. I still had no idea what that would be but just knowing that my amazing body and heart would lead me in the right direction gave me confidence.

My rheumatologist went over all my recent lab work and explained how my RA is progressively getting worse. She examined my body. We discussed the need to get off prednisone. We discussed how our bodies can build up a resistance to RA drugs and what might work now possibly won't work in two years. I wouldn't say that I feel 100% comfortable with my new rheumatologist, but I don't dislike her either. In an ideal world I would have a rheumatologist that used lots of alternative practices and meds only as needed, but I know that isn't possible - yet!

Of course the rheumatologist wants me on meds. I knew that would be the case. Since the Arava didn't work for me, she would like me to return to Methotrexate. We talked a while about how it worked for my body in the past (I did go into a remission while on Methotrexate and doing naturopathic work). The only real side effect I had was hair loss.

I left the office with my prescription and called my mom on the way home. She asked what I planned to do. I told her I was going to put the prescription on my desk and think it over for a few days. I felt very calm and at ease with this decision. As I drove I continued to talk with my mom and by the end of the conversation I was sitting in Walgreen's parking lot and said, "Well, I guess I have talked myself into taking it, haven't I?"

Here are some thoughts I shared with my mom:
~I don't believe medications are the answer. I really don't. I think they help ease the pain and make life more comfortable for a while but in the end our bodies are so intelligent that the pain returns because the cause is still present.
~The side effects of RA medications are scary beyond belief.
~I deserve to be without pain, even if it is temporary.
~I like being active. I love bike riding with my family, walking our dog, carrying groceries, holding babies, and more. Sitting on the sidelines has been a struggle for me.
~Even if the meds don't work forever, if they give me two more years of doing what I enjoy rather than crawling up the stairs each morning or waking my children to help dress me, isn't that worth some of the possible side effects?
~I sincerely believe that my inflammation stems from a lifelong problem with digestion and holding in toxins. Even though I have done lots of work in this area, there is much to still do before the inflammation is under control. The meds won't cover up my digestive problems (although they won't help with the toxin issues) so I can still continue to work on this issue with my naturopath.
~I am familiar with Methotrexate which gives me some security. It has been around for a long time so at least they know what the side effects are and can test for them. Some of the newer drugs scare me because they just don't know yet what the long term effects are. Plus, I know how it works with my body and I know what it feels like to go off Methotrexate if I decide to make that decision again down the road.
~My RA has taken me through many ups and downs in the last six and half years. My family has been more than supportive, but I am realizing it is taking a toll on them and it is time to move on and have some days that aren't painful for just me, but also for them. Chronic pain is never easy for a family and I am realizing that more and more.
~This isn't the choice I want to make but it is a choice that I feel my heart is telling me is right for now. I trust my heart. When I listen to it, it never fails.

Once the decision was made yesterday, I went to the computer and started to search for the side effects of Methotrexate to read one more time. Then I stopped and realized that my heart had already given me the answer and that I needed to listen to it rather than fight what it was telling me. I know the side effects, so why continue to torture myself? I also know what it feels like to be in pain more of the time than not. My heart wouldn't lead me in a direction that wasn't right for me right now.

Tonight I take my first weekly dose of Methotrexate. I will also eat a healthy, nourishing meal and continue taking my supplements. Please send your healing thoughts that this combination will give me some pain free days. And, as I do everyday, I will be sending those same healing thoughts back to you.