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!