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Let’s Talk About Drugs

leslie knope your life.

Alright gang, as many of you know I completed a pain treatment program at Mayo Clinic PRC and discontinued my Vicodin, Tramadol, and occasional Percocet. For those who don’t have prior knowledge, I attended PRC to learn to better manage my pain not because I was addicted to pain medication [nothing against those who better their lives who are coping with addiction]. It has been 6 months and I have not taken any pain medication since completing the program. I had turned over all of the pain medication I had with me after completing the program but found duplicates of all the medications in my medication drawer back home that I had forgotten about. For 6 months I have sat on this medication due to either some sort of emotional attachment or because I was afraid I would legitimately need it. Today I turned over all, and I do mean ALL narcotics to the police station narcotic disposal. It may not seem like much but I got rid of my ‘safety net’ of pain medication and somehow feel more prepared to stay pain medication free.

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FREEDOM

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RDJ alcohol and narcoticsToday I went to see my rheumatologist. At the beginning of the appointment I was straightforward in telling her about my trip to the Mayo and what they had told me regarding my lack of RA symptoms and the presence of Fibro symptoms. She was very attentive and listened to my whole spiel. I asked if this meant that we questioned my initial diagnosis of RA and she said no, she pulled up a chart on her computer showing my total swollen joint count over time and pointed out how many swollen joints I’d had initially and how they decreased over time as we became more agressive in our treatment. She checked my trigger points and said that they had not been this bad previously and showed me a chart of my previous positive trigger points, neither of us are sure why it is suddenly worse but we agreed that continued use of Lyrica and Tramadol was in my best interest [due to the use of Tramadol I am COMPLETELY off of the Vicodin!]. Then I asked the question I have been dreading and fretting over: “Can I stop my methotrexate?” For those just tuning in Methotrexate [or MTX for short] is a chemotherapy drug that in small doses is used to treat autoimmune diseases such as RA. It is very harsh on your body and I personally have had the unfortunate side effects of mouth ulcers and nausea. In short I would very much like not to be taking MTX injections once a week. So I asked her if I could stop this horrible drug AND SHE SAID YES! I am officially off MTX! This is kind of a big deal. I then asked about my other RA medication Orencia, she said that if my RA is still in remission [which she confirmed is what happened] in 6 months that I can discontinue Orencia! BUT she was very adamant about this disclaimer, once RA is in control getting back to remission after a major flare can be hard to come back from, so from here we proceed with caution. On a positive note I begin tapering off of the NSAID Celebrax tomorrow as they think it may be contributing to my stomach issues.

Additionally I went to the ENT that my mother is very fond of to seek out help for my oral ulcers, he was very helpful and gave me MEGA oral ulcer solution with more drugs in it than I can remember [mostly used on chemotherapy and radiation patients] and some oralgel paste. They are already getting better!

Remission

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enhanced-buzz-25824-1366906952-7So the results of my nuclear joint scan are in. And just like every test I have had done it was negative. According to the doctor a lack of activity on this scan indicates that I do not have active rheumatoid arthritis, therefor I have gone into remission. This is surprising to me as the overall remission rate (using the ACR definition of remission) is 8.6% which leaves most RA patients with incredibly low odds. I am not and have never been a lucky person so I am hesitant to list myself under that 8.6% however this doctor said that if these scans came back clean [still waiting on MRI results] that he saw no need to follow up with me but suggested I continue my RA treatments. However making the assumption that I am in fact in remission but still experiencing this level of pain and fatigue adds merit to his diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, in a way the lack of proof is proof. I will hopefully know more after meeting with the Fibromyalgia specialist on Monday. They will be deciding if I am a good candidate for their comprehensive pain rehab program, I really hope they decide to se me as I have stopped all pain medication per the Mayo rheumatologists request. So my pain level is a little higher than I would like it to be but hopefully there is something that can be done for it.

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