First: Thank you all for your comments on my last post! As hard as it was to see, I really wasn’t expecting any comments at all. Honestly, you guys are the best.
Second: Yes, I fixed the black type problem, thanks to a kindly WordPress technician. I’d inadvertently imported some freak formatting when I copied and pasted the post from Word into the WordPress editor. That’s never happened before, but I’ve learned my lesson. I’m typing my posts directly into the WP editor from now on.
And now, on to What The Doctor Said.
As I anticipated, he asked me to be patient and give the Humira another three months to work, reiterating that it could take up to six months. Each RD patient is different, he said, and some people’s immune systems accept the drug quickly, others take longer–or never accept it at all.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. My other DMARDs have taken varied periods of time to become effective, too. I had, perhaps, unrealistic hopes that Humira would be my SuperDrug, swooping in like a speeding bullet to save me from the rheuma-dragon.
My elbow flare turns out to be lateral epicondylitis–more commonly known as tennis elbow. There are a couple of possible explanations for it, since I haven’t played tennis since I was in high school. My rheumie reminded me that RD affects more than joints alone–it also affects soft tissues like tendons and ligaments, and more seriously, organs like the heart, lungs, and even the vascular system. He feels this new, painful aggravation appeared as a comorbidity of the rheumatoid disease, just like the chronic bursitis I’m still struggling with.
I’m sure he’s right about that. But after I got home, I did a little googling, as we do. And I discovered that it can also be caused by overuse–specifically, overuse of a computer mouse or even of a laptop computer.
“Ahah!” Yes, I am on my laptop for several–and often many–hours each day, both working and playing. And, since my new room is still full of boxes and other stuff that we haven’t found space for in the new apartment, I haven’t been able to use my desk. Instead, my laptop resides on my lap as I sit in the living room armchair. My elbows are pressed close to my sides.
Now, this has been quite comfortable up until now, so other than wishing I could have a quiet place to work, it hasn’t really been a problem. But discovering that not being able to use my desk might be the culprit behind my painful elbow might help to get Mom to finally go for renting a storage space here in the apartment complex. It’s relatively inexpensive and quite affordable, but she’s become obsessive about pinching her pennies–even though I’m paying rent on the extra room. Sigh. Maybe tennis elbow will do it, eh?
The doc gave me a small velcro-d strap to wear just below my elbow that helps to relieve the pain. He prescribed an analgesic salve, as well.
As he examined my joints, he noted how dry my skin is, and asked if I was having any discomfort in my eyes.
Yes, I said. They’re always bloodshot, and they often itch and burn.
He called the dryness Sicca syndrome, saying it was a possible precursor to Sjogren’s, and prescribed artificial tears for use four times a day. In the meantime, he said, we’d keep an eye (heh-heh) on things, since Sjogren’s is such a common comorbidity of RD.
In other news, Mom woke up feeling ill this morning–she has a headache, nausea, and diarrhea. This is not good.
I’m going out later this morning to pick up Christmas dinner from Honeybaked; we decided not to go through all the stress of making another huge feast this season. And, given the price of groceries, buying the meal already prepared is cheaper. We’re expecting Mr. Wren, my daughter Cary, and her significant other, Matt, for Christmas, but that could change if Mom is still sick. We’ve had to postpone the holiday before because she was ill. We can do it again, and freeze the feast for later. We’ll see.
Here’s hoping this post finds you feeling good and almost ready for the holiday. Thanks again for all your comments. You really have no idea how much I appreciate them.
It’s funny that the last thing I googled (half an hour ago) was lateral epicondylitis – well almost – I started at “pain where muscle attaches to bone” and got there. Mine seems worse when I wake up in the morning and likely has a connection to wrists that no longer move.
We cheated on Christmas feast #1 and used a frozen turkey “log” as my son calls it. It’s real turkey and you cook from frozen, but there are no bones in it. We bought gravy and also stuffing. There was so much less stress that I think we will do that again, as our Christmas plans are falling through due to sickness at my in-laws.
I hope your mom feels better and that you don’t get sick yourself.
(I have Sjogren’s with my RA. Good for your Dr. to pick it up. So many don’t)
Humira took a long time to work for me, as well. It was nervewracking. I hope he is right — keeping everything crossed!
A couple of things (no, I’m not a doctor, but I’m going to share my experience): Biologics in general and Humira specifically dries me out like nobody’s business. Find a really good lotion (Aveeno is one of the best), apply twice a day. I also put saline drops in my eyes four times a day and drink lots of water, often 3L a day.
I also struggle with tennis and golfer’s elbow, especially when I spend too much time at the computer. Could yours be RA? Sure. I’m a big fan of looking at whether something has changed first, though, in your case, it certainly has. I bet getting your desk back would deal with this. Use ice, the topical cream, and try to back off the computer for a bit over the holidays. It might help.
Sorry to hear that your mom is sick. Hope it’s only a short illness so you get to enjoy the holidays.
Oh well, take it as it comes. I can relate to the tennis ellbow and the dry eyes. While it’s not my ellbow this time, this kind of bursitis/tendonitis has been a constant companion. Last time – three weeks ago – it found a weak spot on the top side of my right foot. I usually apply huge lashings (equ. to several tablespoons) of diclofenac ointment 3 – 4 times/day, compress on top and bandage to keep it in place. This so far has reduced the more serious pain to something like 48 hrs.
The dry eyes I hit with gel drops throughout the day and eye salve (bepanthen or any other antiseptic) morning and before bedtime. It has made a huge difference.
Hope your mum will get better and that you cab enjoy a relaxing xmas!
Oh wow…in the beginning of my diagnosis, I was diagnosed with “tennis elbow” and given a brace similar to yours. In the end, well, we all know what it turned out to be. I am so sorry to hear your mother is not well. I am hoping that you will have an relaxing stress-free holiday and that your elbow will get better fast and that illness will not plague you over Christmas. Here’s to your Rheuma dragon being doused under ice and snow and that you will start to feel good again soon. Sending healing thoughts your way for you and your loved ones. Best, J.G.
Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas. Hoping your mom is well enough to enjoy the holiday. There seems to be a lot of ick going around. Take care of you! Hoping the next three months are all you need for your med to kick in and take full effect. ~ Kim
I hope the Humira starts to work in less than three-months’ time. And that your mom gets better soon. I’m sure setting up a “me space” will go a long way toward decreasing your stress. Just don’t you go lifting any boxes! And that’s a great idea of getting dinner at Honeybaked, so delicious. Hope you have a wonderful time with your family!
RA…the gift that keeps on giving! Sorry for your recent struggles. Hang in there with Humira. I’ve had the same problems with the elbow for almost 2 years now. I hope you can get some treatment for it.
Meine liebste Zaunkönigen! Frozen or not, you’ll enjoy the meal together in love! That’s great … to be together with our Loved Ones. Wishing you and your sweet Mama and everybody there a superb and spectacular Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr! Alles Liebe von Deine Rouchswalwe!