While there are a whole host of implications associated with autoimmune diseases from the usual aches and pains to exhaustion to the whole injecting yourself weekly to icing and heating and figuring out how to “get back to normal”, the one that often gets overlooked is the fact that when you use a drug such as Enbrel, your immune system is extremely weakened. You become susceptible to viruses and bacterias and illnesses that you might have otherwise been able to fight back against. I find myself in a constant state of wondering, am I supposed to feel like this? Is this related to the AS? Is it a side effect of Enbrel? Is it just grad school and work sleepiness?
Then you start reading about autoimmune diseases and TNF-blockers (Enbrel) and how your organs become more susceptible to having bad things happen to them (the nicest way to put it)… and you begin to thin, crap, maybe I should take the time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. As I noted in my last post (post-Jingle Bell 5K), I’ve been experiencing some swollen glands and a sore throat, a stiff neck, and some low grade fevers. The swollen glands have been off and on for a month. For a while, I thought they were related to Enbrel, but they got so sore to the touch and then with the stiff neck and the sore throat, I just decided it was time to go see someone. Naturally, I didn’t feel awful on a weekday, I felt the worst on a Sunday. So, Andrew took me to a CVS minute clinic. I met with the doctor who checked me out and I explained my symptoms. He said he would take my temperature but that the TNF blockers can sometimes cause your temperature to be low and prevent any fever so there probably wouldn’t be one (there wasn’t). He did a rapid strep test even though he was sure that wasn’t it (it wasn’t). He then said that my symptoms seem to point towards mono so I should schedule an appointment with my primary care physician to have the mono test done.
So, this morning, Andrew drove me to the doctor’s office to have a mono test done. To do this, they have to prick your finger and take some blood out and run a test. Fine, whatever. They also wanted to do a flu test. If you’ve never had one before, I suggest you don’t start anytime soon! They take a swabber thing, have your head tilted back, and then shove it up your nose and swab. It is god awful and made me tear up. It suddenly made all the pricks and blood drawing not so bad. Well, the rapid mono and flu tests both came back negative. So, my doctor decided to take blood to do some full tests for iron, EBC and CMV (two viruses- I think- associated with Mono), electrolytes, my thyroid, and a whole host of other things that I cannot remember. The goal is to try and figure out what is causing the pain, the swelling, etc. My doctor said if those tests come back negative, then we will then go to an ultrasound of the neck and throat and have a discussion with my Rheumy about what to do next.
When we left the doctor’s office this morning, I had a sore nose, a bandaid over my finger prick site, and a bandaid over my blood withdrawl site. I got in the car and we started driving and I started crying. I am frustrated. I am exhausted. I am worn out and I want to know why my neck and throat feel as though someone is simultaneously choking me and hitting me with a baseball bat. Andrew calmly tells me it will be ok and we’ll figure it out. He tells me, “sometime good people get shit on.” That cheered me up. a lot. I don’t know how I would get through all of this without him- he is truly awesome and always finds a way to change me from an emotional baby into a laughing young lady. Thank god for good guys!