Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remicade, Lidocaine and Cortisone

I went in today for my Remicade infusion.  After two loading doses I had definitely felt some real improvement in my smaller joints.  I’d had pain and stiffness in my hands, which had made typing and even writing much with pen or pencil difficult.  My left thumb and my right middle finger would sometimes lock in position and I literally had to snap them loose with the other hand.  And it didn’t feel good!  My feet as well as the heels of the foot were always stiff and sore, especially with any standing at all.  The thickening of both shoulders had stretched the muscles and connective tissue and those hurt often.  There were other aches and pains as well.  Remicade thus far has improved the way those smaller joints feel by a noticeable amount.  I am hoping that I see even more benefit now that it is at full strength in my blood.  Since advanced osteoarthritis – something I have a strong family history of, but that likely was set in motion decades earlier than typically by the bone-grafting and revascularizations surgeries I had on my left knee as an early teen – is another contributor to my creakiness, and my knees have both been very sore, I got injections today of lidocaine (numbed the joint for an hour or two) and cortisone (intended to reduce inflammation).  Hopefully the cortisone will reduce the inflammation.  I’ll also have the synthetic joint fluid injections done next week or so.  Those of you who’ve had needles inserted into swollen and sore joints will know that it isn’t that much fun.  Today the lidocaine kicked in quickly and within seconds the knees weren’t hurting at all.  I’d love to be able to use lidocaine every day!  I’ll have to hope that the cortisone does it’s bit and the synthetic joint fluid works well also. 

It is always complicated to resolve interrelated conditions - when you have more than one or two issues contributing to one another, and I’m working on a half-dozen conditions that feed one another.  I’ve been pretty limited and I am still not able to be very active.  But for the first time in years I have seen this degenerative group of conditions stopped, and actual progress has begun.  So I have my fingers crossed.  I’d seen a rheumatologist a couple years ago, but that doc noted advanced osteoarthritis and sent me on my way with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon and get the knees replaced.  I was referred to Dr. Stephen Overman at Seattle Arthritis Clinic and from the moment I had my intake appointment I knew that if I could be helped, I would be.  He’s written a great book for people combating diseases which are not obvious, called You Don't Look Sick!, written with a patient named Joy H. Selak (http://www.joywrites.com/). 

As a person who has always been active, busy, engaged and had a good time too, the degenerative process that I had been experiencing over recent years was more like a death in the family than an illness.  I found myself unable to do so many things I’d always done, and my sense of humor went to live with somebody else!  Though I have a long way to go, Dr. Overman, the book he has written with Ms. Selak, Remicade, and the many tools and techniques I’ve been made aware of at the Seattle Arthritis Clinic have given me the first progress I’ve seen in years, and hope that I’ll gain back a meaningful semblance of the things I have seen slip away in recent years. 

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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