Tomorrow is the big day, the day I've been waiting for since I was diagnosed with RA. Tomorrow is Enbrel day. I saw my doctor on April 9th and she prescribed Enbrel for me then because Methotrexate wasn't working very well. Unfortunately, I had a massive rash on the left side of my body from neck to the tips of my fingers, so I had to wait until that cleared before starting the new medication. That meant stopping Methotrexate and not replacing it with anything else for two weeks. I know that Methotrexate wasn't helping enough, but I had no idea how much it was helping until I stopped taking it. The last few days have been hard. By Sunday of this week I was walking with a cane again, and today was consistently painful from start to finish. The only medication I take for pain is Tramadol, and I take one of those daily, as needed. Today, I felt like I needed one every couple of hours. But the end of the day is here, and it is almost bedtime, and tomorrow is the big day!

I am fortunate to have qualified for the Enbrel support program, which provides this very expensive medication to me at no cost for the first six months, and then at very low cost thereafter. In addition to that, they provide a support nurse who is coming out tomorrow morning at 10:30 to teach me how to inject myself. I've given shots before, to animals and to people, but I have never needed to inject myself. Tomorrow morning should prove interesting. I know odds are that the new medication won't make me feel immediately better, but I certainly hope so. Even if it takes a couple of months to really take effect, I have great hopes for this treatment plan.

Most people are familiar with biologic medications like Enbrel and Humira from the commercials that play on TV. These ads are well-known and deeply hated by the RA community; they depict people with RA wearing work-out clothes, jogging on the beach, power-walking in the park, and planting trees and rose-bushes in their yards. People with RA get sick of seeing supposed fellow sufferers who look as if they had never known a swollen joint, never been unable to fasten a bra or button their pants, never asked one of their kids to open the pickle jar. The people I know who have RA would love to see realistic commercials - people with lumpy joints who walk with limps and have permanently thinned hair because of all the chemicals they've been taking to arrest the joint damage. But we all know that biologics are the best thing out there so far, and for most people with RA, Enbrel is a great starting point. A good friend of mine calls Enbrel the "playground" medicine, because one of the ads that has been running lately features a woman helping to build a playground. Playground medication has become our code-word for the hope I have for the future. I am so ready to feel good again. So ready to at least be able to stay fairly level throughout the day. Ready to go hiking. Ready to get through days without having the 4 pm fatigue crash that shuts me down every afternoon. I am ready to play!

So here's to E-Day! Here's to power-walking and planting trees! Here's to building playgrounds!


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