Feeling better after Remicade

During my first stint on Remicade, from 2005 to 2008, I was never one of those people that needed their next infusion. Of course I diligently kept up with my bi-monthly appointments but it was never a big deal when that time came around. Even when I started the drug, I did not see a drastic improvement like many people do. Instead, my turn-around was a gradual process that occurred over three months.

I started the drug in August after a summer where I pretty much lived in the hospital. And if I wasn't in the hospital, I was at a doctors appointment, trying to convince my doctor that I didn't need to be hospitalized. And then days after my twenty-first birthday, I started Remicade during one of my hospitalizations. After everything I had heard about people experiencing drastic improvements on it, I was optimistic. Every hour I spent out of the bathroom, without pain, or a craving for McDonalds, had me thinking, "Is this it? Is this Remicade working?" I wanted it to help me so much that I attributed every little positive moment with the magic that Remicade had to be working.

But I have learned with this illness that you can not look at your symptoms on a day by day or hour by hour basis to judge how you are feeling. Sure, the way you are able to perform your day to day activities is certainly going to determine if you are happy with your treatment, but you have to step back and take account of how you have been feeling over a long period of time. I have to remind myself of this all the time.

For instance, I feel like whenever I have doctors appointments, I happen to feel well at the time. And even though my symptoms are terribly upsetting to me sometimes, I often forget just how much they interfere with my life, because I'm so damn happy those few times when they don't. This can be a problem.

But back to my point about Remicade. I remember throwing myself into my spring semester in 2006 not having a clue about what was going to happen. At that point it had been four months since I started Remicade and I was getting better. But it is one thing to feel well when you are sitting at home and always in your comfort zone, or near it. It is another to return to school, live with strangers, and not have your support system around. And once I got my semester started, something about it felt different. I enjoyed going to class, living with five other girls, and being on campus. My health only improved and Remicade gave me three years of the most amazing time of my life.

Looking back on that situation, I can see that getting my first infusion of Remicade was a turning point in my life.

Now I am in a situation I'm confused with. When I began Remicade again this year, it was like night and day. The differences were felt immediately. This was certainly a different reaction than the reaction I experienced back in '05. I guess I am just trying to make the point that everything is unpredictable. No one can predict this disease, the drugs to treat it, or how our bodies react.

I was feeling like garbage this past month and then bam! I got Remicade on Wednesday and I've felt great since. Now I don't know why the last infusion didn't seem to help me or why this one did. But I know that taken on a whole, there has been so much inconsistency with my symptoms, even since the start of Remicade again. Even though I am so grateful for the fact that I do have good days now,I think if I were transplanted back to my college life of '06, I wouldn't be able to thrive as I did then. Remicade just isn't doing the same things for me this time.

I guess I'm just trying to get myself ready for this colonoscopy on Thursday. There will be so much to think about and a lot of decisions to be made. Taken with my symptoms and blood work over the past several months, the extent of inflammation my doc sees in my colon will likely determine if we continue on this course or come up with a new plan. Either way, it's a scary thought to abandon Remicade. I know it sounds crazy but I feel like I have an emotional attachment to it just because of the things I was able to accomplish when I was in remission.

Sympathy fasting on Wednesday??? ANYONE?????

Oh well. This guy certainly won't be fasting with Aunt Ellen. But I think his mom would agree she could use a break!


Anonymous said...

OMG that is the most beautiful kid I have ever seen - his parents must be amazing!!!!!!!!!!

Ellen said...