JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The love/hate relationship with Methotrexate

Medication Blog #1: Methotrexate

This is going to be the first in a series of medication blogs.  Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis take many different medications, because everyones body responds differently.  I decided to do this blog on Methotrexate, because not only are a lot of my fellow RAers on it, I am as well.  I know many of our friends and families always ask about our medicines, so I figured if I did some medicine blogs, explaining all about the individual meds, maybe those who want to understand, can do so much better. 

I first took methotrexate about 15 years ago, everything seemed to be going well, until six months later.  I started having difficultly breathing, and my mom rushed me to Children's Hospital in Boston (where I was seeing my rheumatologist at the time).  There, they found out that the methotrexate was causing toxic lung poisoning, so it was stopped.  Now, 15 years later, we've run out of options for me because I either severely react to them, or they stop working.  Since my body has gone through so many changes since then, I agreed with my doctor to try it again.  I was on the pills from September 2010 - April 2011 (about 5 months), and it wasn't working too well so I started the injections on the highest dose given to patients with RA.  I also take Humira along with it, so far I've been feeling really good.  I know not to get my hopes up with this, so I will wait and see.  In the meantime, let's discuss Methotrexate, why it's given, the side effects, and much more.

First off, what is Methotrexate?  It is a medication known as a toxic antimetabolite, or chemotherapy.  It interferes with the growth of certain cells in the body that grow quickly, such as cancer cells, bone marrow and skin cells.  It is used to treat certain types of cancer, severe psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Methotrexate is usually given when other medications have not worked.   The way it works, is by "killing" or slowing down the progress of the bad cells and works a little differently with each prognosis.  In cancer, it works by slowing the growth of cancer cells.  In the case of psoriasis, it works by slowing the growth of skin cells to stop scales from forming. And in rheumatoid arthritis, it works by decreasing the activity of the immune system.  In rare cases, Methotrexate is sometimes used to also treat Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. 

Methotrexate is given either in pill form, or injection and the dosage varies by condition and the severity of it.  It is very important to follow the instructions given by your doctor, since this is a very toxic drug, side effects are very serious.   Some side effects include, but are not limited to:  dizziness, drowsiness, headache, swollen tender gums, decreased appetite, reddened eyes, hair loss. Some more serious side effects include: blurred vision or sudden loss of vision, seizures, confusion,weakness or difficulty moving one or both sides of the body, loss of consciousness.  It is very important to contact your doctor with ANY side effects, even if they seem minor.  This is a TOXIC medication that has caused harmful effects to some people. 

There are many options and medications out there for patients with these illnesses.  It's important to discuss all treatments with your doctor and chose the one that works best for you.  As great as Methotrexate seems to work for some, it can't work for everyone and there are serious side effects. I wish everyone the best of luck with whatever medications you are taking.   If there are any medications you'd like to see in the medicaion blog series, please list them in a comment.


Blogger Amanda said...

Hi : ) I just came across this on facebook. I was diagnosed with RA a little over a year ago. Last summer I was taking the pills, and I felt like I was dying. I couldn't eat, I couldn't get out of bed , and the headache was so bad that the ER couldn't get it to stay away longer than 30 minutes or LESS. Yesterday I did my 3rd injection, we're trying AGAIN! I'm also on Humira and prednisone, along with a nice list ; ( I'd be interested to hear from anyone that has been on Prednisone long term and what if any lasting side effects do they have/had? Thanks for posting this Mallory : )

June 7, 2011 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Let's hope the repeat addition of the metho works out for you. I was up to 25 mg tablets per week or thereabouts and had to stop it as I was too sick on the stuff. That was years ago.

Amanda - I have been doing low dose pregnisone for years. First, be sure you are taking calcium w/ vit d in it as this med is known to possibly lead to brittle or thinning bones. Next, (I do 7.5 mg dialy: 5mg in the am and 2.5 in the pm/ this split was my magic bullet...did it years ago for the am pain problems), if you are doing the pregnisone for a short term burst, usually there are no long term side effects. If you are doing it for the long term...alot will depend on the dosage and how you handle the medication (meaning your body). As you probably know it can have many side effects (you can search the med online for those). So far for me personally no raised sugar levels, no moon face, no hump at the back of the neck, etc. etc. I do eat pretty healthy though and try to watch my weight although I could loose a few pounds. Hope this helps!

June 8, 2011 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger MassStrong said...

I was diagnosed with RA 3 years ago. I have been on Plaquenil since I was diagnosed and up until about 6 months ago, I was doing quite well on it. Now, the bones in my baby toes have eroded substantially and I'm in constant pain pretty much from every joint... especially my feet, hands, wrists and elbows.

My doctor wants me to go on Metho and I am too scared to go on it.

I have read stories of people following a gluten-free diet either alone or combined with vegan and they seem to have success stories. I know it's not a definite that it'll work but I'm giving it a shot. It's been a week and so far no change.

Does anyone have experienc with this (gluten and/or vegan)?

Wish you all well.


June 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger the green printer said...

Came across this randomly on Facebook...diagnosed ra, sjogrens syndrome and celiac disease.

I live gluten free though I cannot tell a difference since I was gluten free prior to ra diagnosis. I would like to think it does.

Mallory, I read your post of your digestive problems. Did they rule out celiac disease (another autoimmune sometimes presenting with ra)? Your symptoms sound too familiar... :(. Nothing's farfetched though since my sister also suffers from chrones/colitis.

Living in autoimmune city here...

June 15, 2011 at 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Mallory said...

The green printer - They did test me for Celiac Disease, and I don't have it. I have an Endoscopy next week, so more waiting for me! I personally am not gluten free, but have heard stories from people who do and they feel somewhat of a difference. Thanks everyone who reads my blogs!

June 22, 2011 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Matchbox Mom said...

Mallory...I just came across your blog & am SO glad. I've had RA Since 2006, currently taking 25mg methotrexate & getting started on remicade soon. I'm hopeful that this will work! Thank you for your posts, they are greatly appreciated. :)

August 11, 2011 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mallory,

Just saw your blog when I typed in I hate methotrexate. I stopped taking it about 4 months ago and I know I have to start taking it again. My whole body aches and I feel horrible. I have had RA since I was 10 and I am now 39. I have been on Enbrel for the last 10 years, I am now getting injection site reddness after ten years. I hate methotrexate I only take 6 mg... I am always sick on it and I hate the color but I think I rather feel good all over than worry about an upset stomach. I will not take prednisone. I have only taken that a couple times and I will not take it I would have to be really bad to take it. I pray for all of us who suffer this horrible illness.

October 29, 2011 at 8:00 PM  
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