Saturday, July 23, 2011


Friday morning I was woken up to my doctor calling me. Apparently, he erased all of the ultrasound images he had taken the day before, and was wondering if I could come in to have hem redone. I went in, and within ONE DAY of taking the Enbrel, my swelling and inflammation had gone down significantly! That is a good sign the Enbrel is working, considering it normally takes some time to decrease symptoms...WOOHOO!

The image to the left is an ultrasound of a finger joint - the bright yellow areas are where there is heat, or bad RA activity, and the synovial hypertrophy is that entire black area, which is inflammation. I'm not going to lie, I think this is the coolest thing ever, every time I get it done. 

Here is a paper for anyone out there daring enough to read it on using ultrasound to manage and treat RA (I'm a scientist - we go for the data right from the source!): Using ultrasonography to facilitate best practice in diagnosis and management of RA

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enbrel to the Rescue!

So, it's been awhile...I actually felt pretty good for a couple of weeks there, and didn't feel the need to write about it. Other than the craziness of prednisone (seriously, I was like a whole different person...not cool), my body felt normal. I could walk wherever without my toes cramping up. I even went kayaking without much pain. But as the prednisone tapered off, my symptoms came back slowly. 

The past week has been rough. I started teaching my summer class, and after over a month off, it really wears me out. On top of that, the class is 30 minutes longer than I'm used to. That extra 30 minutes feels like hours.

But there is hope in sight. I was approved to start Enbrel (after making sure I didn't have TB or hepatitis...I feel like I would know either way). So today I went to the doctor with my first dose in hand. Enbrel is an injectable medication - so I have an auto injector that I have to administer once a week. I was terrified that I would do it wrong, so I wanted to have the nurse help me. The nurse at my doctor's office, Natalie, is great. She's so super nice. She did the injection for me, just so I knew what to do next time. 

But OWWWWW. It stung. In order to inject all of the medication, you have to hold the injector on your skin for 15 seconds. Longest 15 seconds ever....and to top it off, the medicine was cold (it has to remain refrigerated) so I could feel it going in under my skin. Ick.

My doctor wasn't too thrilled that I hadn't taken a dose yet, but what was I supposed to do? My last appt was 3 weeks ago, and I didn't get my test results to him until last week. By that point, it made sense that instead of taking up time that wasn't scheduled for me, I'd just wait. Whatever. He did, however, get to play with his new toy - a brand new ultrasound machine. It is really cool to me how you can see the inflammation and measure the amount of heat being produced at those site with an ultrasound. He examined my foot with it, and when he turned the heat sensors on, it lit up like a Christmas tree. No wonder it hurts so much.

Now it is a matter of time to see how the Enbrel works. I talked to a very nice nurse on the phone yesterday through my pharmacy, and she said that some people see results in 10-14 days, other within 3 months. We'll see.