Today was a day that started out with a crisp clean fresh page in front of me, stepping into new and unknown territory in a new phase of my journey. Today I started a new medication – Anti-TNF therapy for my Ankylosing Spondylitis (and it may also help with control of my Uveitis and IBS symptoms too). In the lead up to starting out on this new journey, I have had mixed feelings; biological therapy has been shown to be very effective for people with my condition , but it can have some serious side effects and it took me a lot of thinking and reading before deciding to go ahead and try it out.
Now, I’m no stranger to medications – when I’m having a bad time with my illnesses I have been on as many as 15 different tablets at once and with a bad uveitis flare, I can be administering as many as 25 drops in just one day and I can need as many a 5 separate types of eye drop – add that to my other meds and it can be exhausting and a bit dizzying to keep track of (thank goodness for my Medisafe app! If you have an iPhone and need to take medication regularly – I would recommend it). Honestly, in reality I really do not like taking medications and I look for better options such as diet, exercise and lifestyle choices in an attempt to keep my drug intake as small as I can where possible (in reality, this is a really hard thing to do as there are days that I literally cannot function to even get a shower without medication).
If Cimzia works for me, in the best case scenario, I should hopefully see improvements in pain levels, less flare ups and increased energy levels. In other words I could go into a form of remission with my AS and I might be able to live a more normal life where my net intake of medication in general should decrease – and that is an exciting prospect. But, as every spoonie knows, there is no such thing as a magic wand that cures all – realistically, I could see some level of improvement but still have symptoms, the therapy may not work for me at all, or I may have side effects from the drug that force me to stop. I am making the choice to pray for a good outcome and stay positive – not easy to do at all, but I want to make this chapter a happier and healthier one than my last few have been.
Regardless of how well it works, being on anti-TNF therapy means I have to make adjustments to my lifestyle as my immune system will be suppressed. Some adjustments are not so bad – for example I will not be taking public transport for the most part – in an overcrowded poorly ventilated place like the London Underground, there is just too much risk of picking up an infection! Although, not ideal when I need to travel into central London. I will also have to think about certain things like food a bit more – no unpasteurised cheese for me, no reheating last night’s curry and just being careful to avoid food poisoning – it’s not just an easy inject myself every fortnight and then forget about it I have to be aware and adjust. This is a reality I think every person with any chronic illness has to deal with – that life is never going to quite be straightforward or simple. It is something I am learning to be OK with – just because my life is not what some might call ‘normal’ or ‘easy’ doesn’t mean my future can’t be good.
Today, I wrote the first sentences of my new chapter, I still don’t know how it will go, but I’m going to hold onto my pen with confidence and approach it with a positive outlook…