Friday, August 20, 2010

My Protector

Last month when the nurse was sent out to help me with my first Enbrel shot, I asked Alexander, 14, if he would sit with me while she went over the instructions. He tends to remember details a lot better than me. He was happy to do it and as always listened attentively.

Yesterday was week four of my Enbrel shots. Each week as I prepare myself for the shot, I think, "This week Alexander will probably decide that I have it down now and won't feel the need to help me." But, each week he heads up with me and reminds me to first take off the cap and make sure there isn't anything weird floating in the liquid. Then he reminds me that I have to push down before the injection will work. As soon as we hear the "click" that the shot is complete, he takes the syringe and places it in the waste container box for me while I clean up.

This has been my experience with rheumatoid arthritis since the beginning. Alexander was almost eight when I was first diagnosed and quickly took on the job as my protector. He has always been on the lookout to make sure I am safe and life is as easy as possible for me. When he was old enough to stay home alone he still wanted to go to my rheumatalogist appointments with me in case I cried. He goes shopping with me all the time so that I don't have to lift the bags alone. When it is time to leave our homeschool group on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he is by my side ready to take the lunch bags from me. When things got bad this year and I had to stop walking Izzy, he had no problem taking over that job as well as many others around the house. He has always been on the look out to protect me from any additional pain. He even has a list of my medications stored in his phone in case of an emergency.I don't know if this is a trait of most boys with their mothers but what I do know is I am one lucky momma to be watched over by Alexander! His physical help as well as his constant calm personality provide me with so much.

*Side effects: After Enbrel injections I get a light headache and my hips hurt. Anyone else? Also, last week a rash developed around the injection site. But the weirdest thing is that for several nights after taking Enbrel, I have very vivid dreams that last the entire night. I wake up tired because I was so busy dreaming. Does this happen to anyone else? These sound minor in comparison to how great I am feeling, but just thought I would mention it and see if anyone else experiences the weird dreams.


  1. What a great kid! I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again – you are doing a wonderful job Cathy. Despite chronic illness in our lives, we are so lucky and blessed with wonderful children.

    I don’t take Enbrel but I recall when I started Humira, I had similar side effects in the beginning.

  2. What a wonderful son you have!
    I don't notice any side effects with the Enbrel; sorry that's not more help.

  3. That is one truly kind and loving son you have, Cathy. Alexander is going to be a lovely young adult and, I suspect, a leader. It sounds like he has a great deal of compassion. Anyone would be proud of such a fine child!

    I'm so glad the Enbrel is helping -- and glad that you have such a terrific helper. You've warmed my heart with your post today. May the day be a beautiful one for you and your family.

    Way to go, Alexander!

  4. What a wonderful helper you have!

    I've never had headaches from Enbrel, but I have heard that they are not uncommon. I do occasionally get a slight rash at the injection site. Sometimes it looks a bit like a bug bite, and other times it's just red. As for the dreams, though, I have no idea. I hope that eases over time for you; it's certainly not a lot of fun to wake up exhausted.

  5. After starting a new biological drug, I usually get headaches the day or so after the injection. But they went away after a few weeks. Site reactions...redness and itching are common with Enbrel. Dreams, never heard of that. Some other meds can do that. I hope Enbrel is your wonder drug!

  6. I had horrible injection site reactions when I first started Enbrel -- to the point I was afraid that I would have to quit. I was taking the injection in the tops of my thighs and I'd have a rash from knee to hip. My rheumatologist advised me to take the injection the alternate abdominal site and to take an antihistamine an hour before the injection. She also advised that the reaction seems to subside after two months. I tried this, and sure enough, I didn't get a rash on my abdomin, and after about a month, I was able to go back to using the thigh site even without the antihistamine. Hope this helps.

  7. Cathy,
    I just found your blog and love it! I can truly relate to your journey. I was diagnosed first in late summer of 2007 with "Inflamatory Arthritis" and Fibromyalgia. About 6 months ago, my diagnosis was changed to RA and Fibro. I love living as "clean" as I can; gluten free, dairy free, organic, etc. in an effort to reduce inflammation in combination with Methotrexate and Cymbalta. I appreciate your sharing because I'm learning so much and not feeling so alone. God bless you. My kids are great, too.

  8. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. It helps a lot. And Carla, after reading your reaction to the injection, I have nothing to complain about. My rash is very tiny and hurts only if I put pressure on it.

    Kathy, nice to meet you. Thanks for leaving a message. It sounds like we are on a similar path. I hope we can talk more.

  9. You have wonderful kids...such a blessing!


  10. hi cathy

    do you use the enbrel without preservative that you have to mix yourself before injecting? those have much lesser chance of injection site reactions and are less painful.


  11. I have had ranges of site reactions from none, to redness, itching, slight bruising. I always inject on my leg as I am really tall and have a lot of real estate there. lol. It seems the more relaxed I have gotten, I rarely even get a dot of blood now. As great as the Enbrel is, the burning sensation is worth it, right? We started our injections the exact same day!

  12. Hi Talltennisgal! Yes, the effects f Enbrel do seem worth it! This is so weird but you are the second person to email me this week that we started Enbrel on the same day. It must have been a good day for Enbrel and for many of us with RA.

  13. Hi, your son is a precious gem!

    I just restarted enbrel after about 6 weeks off due to a cold followed by staph infection.

    This time I had wierd dreams the first 3 nights after my shot. All I remember is searching and searching for soneyhing but I don't know what. It was always different versions of the same dream.

    I also get flu like symptoms that least 2-3 days per shot and raging headaches.

    1. Hi Kim,
      I did get lucky with my son! He is a great guy.

      I had the headaches originally with Enbrel too. I hope things improve for you soon.