Tag Archives: exhaustion

Voltran Gel for Osteoarthritis

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Voltran gel. So, it’s not really called Voltran, but it’s close, so that’s what I’m calling it. On Wednesday, I got to meet with my Rheumy for a much anticipated appointment. Over the past two months, as you know, I’ve been off Enbrel and not visiting my Rheumy because of a Lyme’s Disease and Mono diagnosis. I was really worn down, frustrated, and stressed out when I showed up. The nurse who is always there and works with me (the same one who taught me how to use Enbrel) put her arm around me and led me back to the exam room. She asked me how I was doing and I was completely honest with her. She was so understanding and wonderful. She told me to take a deep breath and said that we’d figure it all out. My pulse was good (72 beats a minute), but my blood pressure was up. The last few times I’ve gone to the doctor it’s been elevated which is weird because usually it’s low and everyone is always telling me how wonderful it is.That’s for the next post.

So anyway, I got my long-awaited and needed direction from him; I can go back on Enbrel! This morning I took my first injection in over two months. It was funny because this time my mentality was, thank god I get to take it, rather than ugh another injection. It made it much easier. So basically the Rheumy said we’ll give the Enbrel two more months and if it doesn’t help, we will try something else. I’m hoping the Enbrel works. He also said that if I don’t feel any better next week to let him know and he’ll probably put me on a short term course of steroids. In addition, I will continue to be on Nambumetone and hopefully that  coupled with Enbrel will do the trick.

Then he turned to my knees. I had complained about them before and how it hurts to be in the car too long, they hurt when I walk, etc. He re-examined my xrays and poked and prodded the knees for a bit and said that it appears to be osteoarthritis and that my bursae are puffy and swollen (inside of the knees). He said that he could give me cortisonal injections (to which I made a face… more injections?). He smiled and said we would try a topical osteoarthris gel first. You 2g of it on the spots of pain/tenderness 4 times a day. The gel, Voltran gel, as I affectionately call it, is another NSAID (as is Nambumetone). I’m hoping the gel will work.

So that’s about where we are. I go back in a month to follow up and get blood work done again. In addition, if nothing improves by next week, I call and go on steroids. Here’s hoping I feel better next week!

Thought for the Day:

Implications of an Autoimmune Disease

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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!

Work and Grad School

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The picture at right is my view for the next two days straight… and probably many more, too. I’m getting into crunch time. I have less than a month left in my first semester of Grad School at Johns Hopkins! I am excited, stressed out, and exhausted all at once. I absolutely love my courses (Water Resources Planning and Smart Growth/Urban Revitalization), but whoever even thought about working full-time and going to grad school part-time should be smacked. It’s impossible. My days are constantly consumed by working all day and feeling guilty about leaving work on time and then working at night and feeling guilty about stopping to go to bed or eat dinner or heaven forbid, do nothing. Any free time that I find I constantly feel guilty and like I am wasting that time that could otherwise be put to good use.

This begs the question… did I make the wrong decision to go back to school right now? No. I am glad that I did. As I mentioned before, I love my classes; they are interesting and I’m learning a lot. Do I think that writing 3 papers a week for one class is a little excessive, yes, I do. But, that’s life. The crunch time now is spent attempting to write and edit my term papers. They aren’t really long, but they require even more work because there is a page limit. I often think to myself, one more month and I’m done. I’m free. Then it kicks in. Calculus II. I still have to finish Calculus II.

Before I started this blog, I signed up for Calculus II as a requirement for my grad school program. I have to finish it before the Spring semester begins. I worked on it here and there when I first started it out– I made progress. slowly. Now I am at a point where I am wondering how I am going to finish it. It is a mastery course that consists of about 128 assignments (including 4 exams). As a mastery course, you have to continuously revise your homework until you get 100% on it. The idea is that you walk away really understanding the program. Great in theory, but I am on about assignment #25 and I have a few corrections to make to a handful of previous assignments. My fear is that if I wait until my classes end to re-focus on Calc, I will NEVER have enough time to finish everything including a final proctored exam in time for Spring classes.

Of course in the midst of this funness of work and school I am stuck wondering if medicines will work on my AS and if my pain will decrease and my exhaustion will be squelched (hehe I like that word). In the past two weeks I’ve had an increasingly hard time using my fingers and wrists- they seem to get extremely sore and tight… to the point where I was spraying a spray bottle of cleaner and had to stop because it hurt so much and I felt like I didn’t have the strength. It sucked. It makes me wonder if this will be a re-occurring issue that I will be facing and if so, I will need to figure out a way to handle it; much of my job and certainly the majority of my schooling revolves around typing so that is a must. Guess we’ll see what the Rheumy says at my follow-up appointment next week!

I supposed I will close with this; this is a HUGE shout out to anyone who is working and going to grad school at the same time- I feel your pain.

~Stress is waking up screaming only to realize that you haven’t been sleeping~