Medications – Humira for Psoriatic Arthritis

Medications – Humira for Psoriatic Arthritis

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At the beginning of 2013 I would get blood work done monthly and report back to my rheumatologist. I was doing well, but we had decided that we were going to attack my psoriatic arthritis aggressively. My knee swelling definitely had gone down, but it still wasn’t anyway close to normal … aaaaaannnndddd I was still in pretty good pain. My rheumatologist pushed my insurance and was able to get them to approve Humira injections a few months earlier than they usually would have. I started the methotrexate in January and humira at the end of March.

YIPPIE! I GET TO START INJECTING MYSELF! I’ve always wanted to…

This wasn’t a very exciting thing for me to start. I always joked about how I would never do drugs because I could never stand injecting myself with something. Now I found myself faced with having to give myself bi-weekly self-injections. I knew I could do it though. If this was going to make me feel better I could suck it up and stab myself!

IMG_7005Not knowing what to expect made the first one a bit nerve wracking. I grabbed what I thought to be the humira pen, took the cap off and began counting down. It took me a good 5 false starts before I pulled the trigger. It was painless. I didn’t feel a thing! I was so excited and happy and then mad at myself for building it up in my head…. Then I looked down at my leg and noticed there wasn’t even a mark from the injection. It was then that I closely examined the humira pen and realized I HAD GRABBED THE PRACTICE ONE! Ahhhhhhh. Well, my Mom, Dad and I had a good laugh and then pulled the REAL humira pen out of the fridge. After waiting the half hour for the pen to warm up, it only too me 2 count downs to pull the trigger.

OWWWWWIIIEE!

Man, I definitely underestimated the burning sensation the injection was going to have. The great thing about it was that it only lasted about 15-20 second. 15-20 seconds of pain bi-weekly vs. constant join pain? I could deal with it.

As the weeks have gone by and I’ve done more and more of them the burning honestly doesn’t bother me as much. The key is to make sure you set out the pen for a half hour before you inject it. Let it warm up!! Don’t do it cold… just don’t.

They say not to inject yourself in the same spot every time. I rotate locations. One week I do the left leg, next the right leg and the third time is in the stomach. Then I start all over again! I put a reminder in my calendar so that I keep track easily. Once you’re signed up and start your medication, make sure to go and sign up for the myHUMIRA program. One thing that makes it so much easier is that this website offers a service that texts your phone on the day you’re supposed to take your meds. It’s awesome when I get a text and it reminds me to take my injection! They also offer travel kits for your humira pens, syringe disposal containers, 24/7 nurse lines and more. It’s definitely worth setting up an online account.

 

hero-hpp-cardThe most important thing you can sign up for is the humira assistance program. It will take your copays from $120 a month to $5! Here is an application that you and your physician can fill out to apply for the card. My rheumatologist signed me up for the assistance program before I even left her office. Make sure to ask about. The program also covers other medications as well – like methotrexate- so when you sign up make sure to ask about any other medications that you’re on!

humira-pen-figure-a-pen-imageI receive my humira through Acredo Express Scripts. It’s convenient because they deliver the pens right to my door. Depending on your insurance you’ll probably have to go with a different speciality pharmacy. I always make sure to ask for a package of alcohol wipes! And as a bonus the pens come in little styrofoam coolers that are the perfect size to fill with jello shots… you know… to take to tailgates… hey! when you’re getting injections in the mail you have to dream about more fun things ok!

Knock on wood- to date I haven’t had any side effects from the medication. Lately I have noticed that the first week I feel great. As the second week goes on my knee starts to hurt more and my hands really start to ache. By the weekend before my next shot my hands always take a few hours to warm up before they’re ready for the day. I plan on definitely bringing this up with my rheumatologist at my next appointment in a few weeks. We shall see if anything changes.

I do not feel that the medication helps with any fatigue symptoms. Really doesn’t. I’ve been working with my diet to try to relieve some of these symptoms… I’m working on it… still waiting for it to go away. The bad thing is that I feel when you bring up these symptoms to doctors they seem to brush it off. They say things like ‘oh you need to be more active’ or ‘oh you need to do this or that’. Easier said than done… I’m on crutches! It’s not like I can go take a walk around the block to get my energy levels ups. But anyways, that’s a whole other post 😉

Humira has been a good addition to my medication regiment. I would recommend this medication to others who have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Please let me know if you have any questions on anything on this medication! I’ll tell ya straight up what I think.

 

UPDATES:

In February 2015, I had to go off of my Humira for a stem cell procedure. Here’s how I dealt with it!

Since February 2015, I’ve been completely off of Humira. Here’s an update on how I’ve been doing.

 

Wishing You A Pain Free Day!

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  • Donna28r

    How are you doing now on your meds?

    • I apologize so much. I’m not sure how I missed this comment?! I’m doing well. I’ve been taking humira weekly since Feb 2014 – for awhile I seemed to be experiencing a hang over of sorts, but it doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. I’ve been keeping track of what time I take it and how I feel the next day. It used to be if I took it later in the day I’d feel awful the next morning. The last few times I’ve noticed it hasn’t mattered and I’ve felt pretty much the same no matter what the next day. I definitely notice a big difference in taking the medication weekly instead of biweekly. I could feel it in my hands like 3 or 4 days prior to when I was supposed to take it when I took it biweekly. Now I rarely feel that! Yay! Are you on humira?

    • I apologize, I’m not sure how I missed this comment! Yikes! 🙂

      I’m doing really well now. I had to switch to doing humira WEEKLY for about a year. I’ve actually been off of humor for 7 months now. I had to go off of it for a procedure in March, but I’ve been doing really well off of it I’m trying to manage myself through dietary and lifestyle changes. So far so good! I have no reservations about the medication and If I need it again I won’t hesitate to go back on it. I know it can work and it definitely helped me get my inflammation under control. In conjunction I made I made a lot of dietary changes and helped identify what my inflammation triggers are. Now, off the meds, I control my inflammation by trying my best to stay away from things that cause inflammation. I have some problems here and there, but my inflammatory markers are at an all time low so I’m pretty happy about that!!

  • Ashley Jensen

    It’ll be a month before I go back to see my rheumatologist, discussing taking gaba right now for my fibro, but with the side effects not sure it’s worth it, but i have PA also recently diagnosed, i think i have had it for a long time, I am supposed to make a decision about taking humira, i used to work as an LPN so not worried about the injection part, nervous about side effects and possibility of getting sick as I have a 3 year old and hubby works full time, no family close by exactly. I wanted to ask how has it been with the injections for you, any SE’s? would you still recommend it? I am also on B12 injections, and taking iron for 2 kinds of anemia, if those levels get low I get sick OFTEN. So I know I would really have to focus on staying well. I have osteoarthritis in my spine that kind of goes hand in hand when you have fibro. So having two kinds of arthritis is not fun, especially getting out of bed in the morning. I have also had knee swelling from time to time, the left knee, and my fingers look like sausages compared to when I was pregnant! I had never felt this bad or had these symptoms until after I had my son, wonder if pregnancy has anything to do with it, risk of inflammation increased? or anything like that. Do you have kids??

    • It’s definitely hard to make the decision to go on meds. You have to weigh the pros and the cons and do what you truly believe is right. For me, I felt like I almost didn’t have a choice because my state was so bad I HAD to do something. I had some ‘humira hangovers’ after taking the injections, but they eventually wore off. I actually ended up taking humira BIWEEKLY for a year and then WEEKLY for a year. I’m currently off of them because with the medication I was able to get my inflammation to a manageable level. In conjunction, I made dietary and lifestyle changes to start identifying and managing what my inflammation triggers are. I’m not off of humira for 7 months and doing great. The medication REALLY helped me get on a path to managing my disease so I know if I need to go back on of it I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Pregnancy is interesting because I’ve heard so many different accounts. Some have no problems and almost go into remission while pregnant and others have it bad. It seems that after pregnancy most people say their disease comes back worse than ever. BUT, that’s just the accounts of some I’ve talked to. I don’t think there is anything scientifically proven to say that is for sure the case. I’ve never been pregnant so I can’t personally say. So it could DEFINITELY have something to do with your pregnancy. BUT, the good thing is – your inflammation is being caused by SOMETHING. The tricky part is figuring out what that SOMETHING is. But, if you figure it out, you can start to control it. I’ve seen SO many people thrive by making dietary changes, filtering their water, removing toxins from their daily regiments (hair products, beauty products, food, containers, filter your air, etc) and taking supplements. You can really have a huge impact on your inflammation!

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