Sunday, 10 November 2013

The 'Next Level' Medicine

In autoimmune arthritis, there are tons of treatments you can try- from DMARDs to diets. Okay, there aren't tons, but there are several treatments out there. You might be lucky and find that your first pick gives amazing results. But, more often than not you'll try a few. I did, and it took a few years to find what works best. To be honest, it should've happened earlier.

My first rheumatologist liked to stay with one treatment, regardless of what happend. I remember one DMARD made me extremely ill for the month I took it, and I later learned that they were extremely serious side effects. Towards the end of my two years with my first rheumatologist, I wasn't feeling well at all with Methotrexate and we weren't seeing any improvements. That's when I asked my doctor "Isn't there anything else we can try?" He sighed and I remember his exact words:
"We would be going to the next level after Methotrexate, and you don't want to get to that level."
I didn't know what it meant, but it terrified me. I was scared to death! I felt sick all the time and was sad to think that I would live like that forever because going 'to the next level' was much worse.

That was a few years ago. I still have no idea what 'the next level' is.

I changed rheumatologists because I needed new options. I didn't know what new options I would be presented with, if there were any at all, but we had to try. My current rheumatologist has given me lots of options and treatments to try- DMARDs, biologics, different NSAIDs and even going medicine free for a few weeks. I've been taking Enbrel for a year, twice a week. Even though I'm not anywhere near remission and still have my bad days, it's helped me an awful lot.

What still is shocking to me is that a doctor convinced me that I had no options but to suffer through something when there are more options out there. I know I'm not the only one because I've heard many stories of that, including from friends of mine.

You have the right to more options. There is usually at least one alternative or a way to make your current option better. You can take folic acid or even zofran to help methotrexate side effects. You can add Enbrel to methotrexate. You can try gluten free diets. We have so much power in our healthcare that we forget we have! Sometimes hospitals and doctors are so intimidating we forget that  they are on your team. Or, at least it's supposed to be like that. You as a patient have the right to refuse and rights to a second opinion. You have the right to listen or ignore. Choose your actions wisely, but trust your gut. It's your life.



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