Category Archives: Meloxicam

Trials and Tribulations of Enbrel

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As you may recall, I went to my Rheumy two weeks ago on Wednesday during which appointment he prescribed me Enbrel. That day they submitted the prescription and told me that it would need to be pre-approved by my insurance before it was filled so they would let me know when that process was complete so I could pick up the prescription. A week later (this past Wednesday), I called regarding my uncontrollable itching and also asked about the medicine. They nurse said call on Friday if you still haven’t heard anything. Mind you, I’m leaving on Monday for 8 days in Denver for work so I NEED more enbrel.

On Thursday afternoon my Rheumy called me to check in. We discussed the itching and the lack of pain relief in my knees, hips, and back. He told me to take Zyrtec, Benadryl (at night), and to switch to Nambumetone rather than Meloxicam. So, he sent in those prescriptions. I then brought up the Enbrel- he told me to talk to his secretary about it to get it figure out. The woman I spoke with was very nice, however she said “it looks like you didn’t need pre-approval, just go to the CVS and ask them for the prescription. If they won’t give it to you, let us know.” Rather than showing up like a crazed drug addict, I decided to call. After putting me on hold for about 20 minutes, the pharmacist came back on and said there was never a prescription sent over for Enbrel. awesome.

I called the doctor back and after being put on hold explained the situation. She put me on hold again and then came back stating that she was sorry and it never was sent over, the woman with her was on the phone with my insurance currently and it would be taken care of immediately. I then went online to Enbrel Support to register some extra insurance card thing. It’s unclear to me what it is besides subsidies for Enbrel. I don’t know who pays for it (probably tax payers?) or why I get it, but I do, so I tried to register. It sends you through a variety of questions and asks for contact information and then you hit submit. Easy enough- I already had a card from my Rheumy with an ID number. OF COURSE, the site crashed three times.

Finally I gave up and called the 1800 number. I basically spent 45 minutes on the phone with a guy who although very nice, seemed to now know what he was doing. Even though I explained that I had a card already and had just started taking Enbrel, he continued to ask me over and over how many years I have been on Enbrel and if I was just trying to renew my membership. 45 minutes later, he assigned me new numbers and a new card (god only knows when that will get here). The upside: I was able to use the numbers without the card.

I went to CVS to pick up the prescription. After a little wait the pharmacist brought out the Enbrel from the refrigerator (yay!). I handed over my temporary Enbrel support card and he looked very confused and then told me I would have to wait. Fine. About 20 minutes later, they called my name. I’m not sure what they did or what black magic they used, but bam! I had Enbrel! The even better part? IT WAS FREE! No, seriously. I didn’t have to pay one cent for FOUR injectors. I’m not sure why or how, but I will take it.

Down-Side: About 2 full days of my life wasted trying to get a prescription of Enbrel
Up-Side: Four injectors were free

Giving Yourself Enbrel at Home:
In case you’re wondering what the process is like… this is the set up along with the steps you take to successfully give yourself a shot.

 

 

1. Gather Accessories Andrew’s sister-in-law mentioned that it is less stinging if you take the Enbrel out and let it warm up for about 10 minutes. So I tried that…

2. Wash Your Hands– didn’t take a picture!

 

 

 

 

 

3. Swab the Injection Area with Alcohol Swab– note to self, remember WHERE you swab or you will have to do it again. Also, let alcohol dry BEFORE injecting (less stinging).

4. Remove the White Cap from the Injector– the white cap is what covers the needle. I use my teeth to pull it out- works better when you are trying to do too many things at once.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Pinch Area of Skin Where Giving Injection and Hold– this is weird. My doctor told me to do this, although the directions in the kit say to stretch the skin. Either way, I’m sure it is painful.

6. Ensure there are Not a lot of Extra Air Bubbles in the Liquid- They say to do this, but honestly, the more you tap the little liquid, the more bubbles that appear…

 

 

 

 

7. Push the Injector Down Hard- I’m pretty sure the reason is this pushes the needle into the skin. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found myself freaking out with anxiety over the impending stinging of doom that I can really feel the needle. Oh, in addition, the window viewer should be facing you so you can see the liquid draining (I don’t pay attention to the window, usually my eyes are closed and I just listen for the second click).

8. Press the Blue Button on Top- Stinging commence. No really. A lot of stinging/burning. Awesome. When you press the button, you hear a click. The liquid starts to go into your thigh. It feels a lot like a bee with a long stinger that is pushing the stinger deeper and deeper into your leg. You wait. A. really. long. time. Then it clicks again, signally that you are done.

 

 

 

 

9. Remove Injector and Discard into Sharps Container- I’m not really sure what to do with the sharps container once it’s full, but apparently Enbrel Support will give you a new bigger sharps container. Cool, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Use Gauze to Stop Bleeding and Cover with Mini Band-Aid-Not much bleeding this time! And you’re done!

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90 Year Old Syndrome?

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As you are aware, the previous three posts have all been in regards to my joint and overall body issues, particularly the flare ups I’ve been having in my SI joints (located in your hips). Anyway, my appointment with the Rheumatologist went well and if you’re interested in the tests being done you can read about it here. I’m going to spend a few moments discussing medications. My orthopedist and general doctor had me on Flexeral for a good chunk of time.

Flexeral is a muscle relaxant. While I appreciated the ability to fall asleep in a matter of seconds after I took it, it wasn’t helping with anything. What made it worse was that if I didn’t get to wake up naturally (aka I ALWAYS wake up to an alarm or to Andrew waking me up), it made me a well, bitch. There is really no other word for it. I would wake up in an angry, pissy mood, and nothing or no one could help improve that situation. At first, I thought perhaps I was being a bitch because I was hungry? But no, that didn’t help at all. Only after I had slept for a long period of time did I come back to my “normal” state.

Then there was Percoset. Percoset is a narcotic. You would think it would help, right? Wrong. Percoset did not do anything. I took two at a time and again, while it helped me sleep, it didn’t help with the pain. It simply masked it until the morning. Upside: no bitchy Meghan. Downside: very very sleepy Meghan. Percoset is easy to become addicted to and after going through some of those issues with Percoset and Vicodin and Oxycontin as a result of ankle surgery, I don’t want to go through it again (don’t mistake me, I was never really an addict, it’s just that once I stopped taking them, my body would feel like my skin was crawling). Better not to test it. If it’s not helping at all, why keep taking it?
After seeing my Rheumatologist on Monday, he prescribed Meloxicam for me. Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID for short). It’s used to help with pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling caused by a variety of things. It has a decent list of nasty side effects, including heartburn, which is why I was told to also buy some Prilosec. The doc told me that I should take the Meloxicam and have the tests done and then come back in once all the results were put together so we could discuss next steps. Fair enough. So, I left and went about my day. Well over the proceeding two days, the pain that I experienced was indescribable. I don’t know what it was; the medicine (I doubt it), the fear of having dye injected for my MRIs (probably not), or just a really bad flare up (YES!) but I was miserable. Absolutely miserable. So, on Wednesday, I called my Rheumatologist and explained that the best way to describe was by saying when I try to stand up, I feel like a 90 year old; knees and ankles in pain and swollen, my hips felt like knives were in them, and my lower back and SI area— hurt so bad it took me a few seconds until I could stand up straight. Not. Good.
I knew that the Meloxicam would need to build up in my body, but I asked if there was anything else he could suggest that would be ok to take with the Meloxicam. I was thinking he’d tell me ibprofen or something like that. No such luck. He prescribed a short course of Prednisone.
Prednisone is a steroid used to help with inflammation. It has horrendous side effects including fat face (moon face), weight gain, congestive heart failure, and shortness of breath. Seriously, check out this list of side effects. Anyway, lucky for me it was just a short course. I wasn’t thrilled about it but I asked him what he thought; he said that the short course would help us figure out if it is inflammation.
I have been on prednisone for a day. The first day you take 6 pills throughout the day, the second day, 5; and so on and so forth until the 6th day with one. While I have no experienced any side effects (nock on wood; fingers crossed) and while the pain isn’t completely gone, I feel like this is actually helping. I do not feel anywhere near as bad as I did on Tuesday when I walked onto the metro train and fell into Andrew, crying because I hurt so bad. My mood has actually been better today. So, here’s hoping that I keep NOT experiencing side effects and I keep experiencing increased pain relief!
So, that’s my recap of drugs that I’ve been on so far for my body aches. Hopefully we’re headed in a good direction; I am staying optimistic!
My question to you all is have you ever spent a lot of time trying to get a diagnosis? Have you had to go through a variety of medications? Did you ever find one that helped you out?