Monday, March 28, 2011

Updates and Future Outlook

1. My CRP (C-Reactive Protein) levels are elevated.

My rheumatologist's receptionist called me a couple of weeks back on her orders to ask me a) am I flaring? b) am I sick?

Um, I would say flaring, because I stopped taking Enbrel and hadn't started Actemra till some 3 weeks later and was getting more and more sore. So, yes, I could have told pretty much anyone that my bloodwork would be screwed up.

I told the receptionist that (not exactly those words, that would be rude; I merely said, hey, gap in drug usage, equals sore feet and loose legs, blah, blah...).

A few days later, the receptionist called back to say, "Doctor says, 'Hang in there, and get your bloodwork done again just before your next infusion.'"

Will do! At this point I can't quite tell yet if the Actemra's taking effect. My hips are even aching at times, which is concerning, just because, hey, who wants to be in pain? And if aching gets worse that's pain. But I know it can take time for drugs to work, and there's still lots of time for that to happen.

2. New work is on the horizon.

I will be very busy soon. In addition to the work I'm doing as editor of special issues at House & Home, I'm also going to be the new book editor of Chatelaine magazine for the time being! I am beside myself with excitement – I get to work on something new and a subject matter that I absolutely adore! Unfortunately, that means I won't likely have the time to post very often at all, or even have a chance to visit blogs very often. I will check in as often as I can, but I just wanted to give you all a head's up and not let you think I just dropped off the face of the earth or didn't care any more! I'm still here and will pop by when and as often as I can!

:) L

P.S. Don't forget to look for the new Kitchens & Baths issue of House & Home on newsstands and digitally today, March 28!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All Clear on the Cholesterol Front

The cholesterol situation is NOT a crisis, according to my family doctor.

I was puzzled when she said that because my rheumatologist had referred me to her with the request that she send me to a specialist for my cholesterol since the Actemra (tocilizumab) infusions would likely increase my borderline levels.

But to quell my concerns, my family doctor showed my the handy-dandy chart she used to come to her quick conclusion.

Entitled the "10-Year Coronary Disease Risk Assessment," it took into account things like my age, bloodwork results, smoking, diabetic and blood pressure statuses, and added up all the corresponding points, charted a percentage and spat out (OK, not literally, but sounds fun!) a figure that clearly indicated I'm in the low-risk category.

Whew! Ben & Jerry's, here I come! (Just kidding! Or at least somewhat kidding.) My doctor says we'll check my cholesterol again in six months just in case and go from there.

Okey-dokey. I am good with that.

Friday, March 18, 2011

IV Bruise, Part Deux

So the bruise is still there, still totally noticeable and, if anything, more sore now than before – how that is possible, god only knows.

So let's take a moment and do a little calculating.

We're coming up to the two-week mark. If I have a bruise like this each time I get an Actemra (tocilizumab) infusion, ie. once a month, each month, one half of each month, I will have a noticeable bruise on one of my arms.

Therefore, I will be essentially "walking around looking like a junkie*" most of the time.


P.S. A note of thanks to Pony for the junkie* reference. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

IV Bruise

Had my Actemra (tocilizumab) infusion on Tuesday, and this is what my arm looked like yesterday.

I'm hoping that it won't look this way every time. When I get my blood work done, sometimes I bruise a little, sometimes not.

I just wanted you all to see this and know that it's not like I was tortured or anything. And it's not like the very nice lady who put in the IV line couldn't find a vein or anything. She got it right off the bat, and there was just a pinch – it's not like she killed me or anything.

I just bruise easily. Always have, really. And now I think more so. My tender, tender skin obviously didn't react well to teeny, weeny, eensy, tiny drops of liquid being ever, ever so slowly infused into it and decided to freak out and get all bruisey as a result.


If this sort of thing keeps up, it's not going to look so pretty come summertime...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My First Actemra Infusion

Sorry for not posting sooner, and commenting and everything. I've been finalizing my first special issue of House & Home – Kitchens & Baths, on sale on newsstands March 28! – and have been crazy busy!

I had my first Actemra (tocilizumab) infusion yesterday. (By the way, I have no clue how to even begin to say the generic name of this drug, only the brand name. If you're curious, check out this blog post to find out how drugs get their often freakishly unpronounceable names.)

Leotard kindly offered to come along with me to keep me company. Personally I think she just likes to see me suffer. Lol! Or she has a fascination with medical matters – which, I confess, I also do. Or she's a genuinely good, caring friend. Whatever the case may be, I was happy to have her along. She keeps me laughing and distracted from the matters at hand. Like getting a needle in my wrist and being infused with a drug that was just approved last January and that, as everyone has been warned, has caused one death. Yes, one death.


I knew that going in.

I do my research. I read the obligatory side-effects warnings, and I know what I'm getting into. All the drugs I'm on, for rheumatoid arthritis and migraines, have scary-sounding side effects, and bad things happen. But I'm more likely to get hit by a car crossing the street. Or smack my head falling down in the tub, or slip on ice and also smack my head during the interminable winter we've been having here, quite frankly. And I kinda like to be able to move, you know? So getting the drug was the plan.

I hadn't been at all sure what to expect from the infusion clinic, but it was super comfy. There were about 11 La-Z-Boy–type recliners, each with a pillow on it and curtains that you could draw for privacy. There was even a big-screen TV. Kind of like first class in a plane – or what I imagine first class in a plane would be like, since I've never actually experienced first class!

Leotard and I went to the back of the room, so she could sit beside me, and we made ourselves comfortable.

Then the very kind infusion lady came around and set to work. She weighed me (I have lost yet more weight!!!) and took my blood pressure and temperature. Then she inserted the IV line; aside from a momentary pinch, it wasn't too bad. She set up a saline solution line first, explaining that once the Actemra came over from the pharmacy, she'd hook that up. So there Leotard and I sat, chatting, until the Actemra was hooked up. Then I curled up and closed my eyes, while Leotard played games on her cell phone and read magazines (what a good friend! sticking around even though I was ignoring her!!). In between, my blood pressure and temperature were taken a few times. An hour later, the infusion was done. After that, I had to stick around for another half an hour to make sure I was OK, my blood pressure was taken again, and then I could go.

Done and done!

Now we'll see how the Actemra works for me (my hands and feet have been more "there," if that makes sense, since I stopped taking Enbrel three weeks ago, and my legs have gotten that loose feeling they haven't had in ages), and what my blood-work results are each month going forward.

Keep your fingers crossed!