I have been struggling with Rheumatoid Arthritis since February 2015. My symptoms came on me literally overnight. I went to bed on Friday, February 4th, and woke up on Saturday, February 5th unable to get out of bed because of extreme joint pain and swelling. My doctor informed me after blood tests that I had rheumatoid arthritis. She put me on methotrexate, prednisone, and plaquenil.
None of these medicines were working, so my rheumatologist’s decided to try Humira shots. I was on these shots for 6 months with no improvement. She, then, tried Arava pills, and then Orcencia, and both medications had no effect. The pain and swelling became almost unbearable.
My doctor upped the dosage of prednisone, which helped with the pain, but my body kept swelling, to the point that my eyes were almost complete shut, and I was suffering debilitating headaches. I was rushed to the hospital, when I starting seeing black spots, and after five days in the hospital, all the doctors determined I was allergic to all steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines.
My doctor took me off all of my medications except methotrexate. Of course, my condition became worse without the medication to control the rheumatoid arthritis. I had just heard an advertisement about a new treatment that had just been approved by the FDA called Rituxan. It was not the usually anti-inflammatory medication, but a form of chemotherapy.
My doctor and I came to the conclusion that I could try this treatment, if my insurance would approve the cost. It is a very expensive drug, and insurance companies will not approved treatment unless all other medications have been tried and rejected. My insurance did approve this treatment, and I received my first treatment September 2016.
The treatments consist of two Iv’s taken two weeks apart. Each treatment takes 6-8 hours. After my second treatment in October 2016, my rheumatoid arthritis went into remission. The only side effects from the drug were nausea, loss of hair, and loss of appetite. The normal time of effectiveness for Rituxan is 6-12 months, but I lasted 21 months.In this time I also had an upcoming drug test. I used synthetic urine to pass it.
I had the second round of Rituxan on July 2017. Unfortunately, the medication did not work as well. I am still suffering from painful joints and swelling in the mornings, and fatigue constantly. I did have the same side effects after this dose, which was nausea, loss of hair, and loss of appetite. I have loss 25 pounds through all of this, and I am consider a chemotherapy anorexic.
I was talking with my doctor about the weight loss and loss of appetite, and she suggest I talk with my internist about taking marijuana by prescription. I researched on line and found that there truly is a prescription strength marijuana in pill form. It is used for nausea and loss of appetite, especially for chemotherapy patients.
I asked my Internist, if he believed this would help me. My doctor had never prescribed this medication, so he scheduled me to come back in two weeks to give him time to research this medication and talk with other doctors who have used this medication.
The medication is called Marinol (Dronabinol – generic). It is a man-made form of the active natural substance in marijuana (THC). This medication does had several side effects, but doctors have found it is the best medication to increase appetite and decrease nausea. The side effects are dizziness, lightheaded, foggy brain, drowsiness, a since of euphoria, uncontrollable laughter, most symptoms you would associate with marijuana. My doctor prescribed this medication last Monday, December 15th, and I have taken 1 dose.
The normal prescription dosage is two per day, taken before lunch and supper. My doctor decided I should take the medication, when I know I will be home. So I will be taking one pill before supper, and one pill before bedtime. I will return to see my doctor in one week to evaluate if the medication is working. I will continue this article after my follow-up visit with my doctor.