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, July 5, 2011

Rituxan

My friend Angela, getting her Rituxan!
Medicine Blog #5: Rituxan

This is the fifth medicine blog in the series!  I took Rituxan after the Remicade, and took it along with Humira.  I started it in 2006 I believe. The next medicine blog will be about Humira, and will be the last in the medicine series for now.  The Humira alone wasn't working, so my rheumatologist decided to try it with Rituxan.  The Rituxan is given the same way as Remicade, through IV.  As you can see pictured to the left is my wonderful RA friend Angela getting her Rituxan infusion, who was kind enough to let me share this photo with you!  I did really well on Rituxan, I was so nervous at first because of the reaction with the Remicade but braved it out.  I had no breathing issues and all seemed to be going really well.  About 6 months into it, I recieved a phone call from a nurse saying my white blood cell count was dangerously low and that I needed to stay in my apartment until my doctor got a hold of me.  I ended up going to see a blood specialist and had all kinds of tests to make sure I didn't have lymphoma.  They figured out that the combination of the Rituxan and Humira were killing too many of my white blood cells.  The Rituxan was stopped immediately but the Humira was continued.  Let's discuss details about Rituxan. 

Rituxan (or Rituximab, which is the scientific name it is also known for), is a medication in a class known as biologic antineoplastic agents.  It is used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it works differently with each disease.  In NHL, it works by causing the death of blood cells that have multiplied abnormally. It treats RA by causing the death of certain blood cells that may cause the immune system to attack the joints.  Rituxan is given intravenously (IV) in an infusion center, and is administered by a nurse or doctor.  It is given very slowly at first, so your first day could take up to 8 hours.  For RA it is usually given as 2 doses spaces 2 weeks apart, in NHL is is given once a week for 4-8 weeks along with chemotherapy.  Dosing will obviously vary person to person depending on severity of condition and other possible medications they are on. 

Common side effects that occur while the medication is being administered are: fever, shaking chills, tiredness, headache, or nausea.  Notify your doctor or nurse right away if you experience any or all of these side effects.   If you experience any of the following symptoms after you get home, it is highly advisable to contact your doctor as soon as possible!  The symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, weight gain, muscle or back pain, flushing, night sweats, tiredness, weakness, numbness, burning or tingling in the hands or feet, runny nose.  And lastly, the following symptoms are listed under the important warnings section and as always, you must contact your doctor ASAP if you experience any of them: stomach area pain, unusual bruising or bleeding, sore throat, fever, chills, or other signs of infection, chest tightness, joint pain or soreness.

As always, I am not a medical professional and these are obviously not all the possible side effects as everyone reacts differently.  It is important that if you experience any of these or other symptoms or are considering going on this medication, to discuss it all with your doctor.

Rituxan was working well for my joints, along with the aid of Humira, but it caused me a dangerous side effect yet again.   I've known RAers who do well with Rituxan alone, mine was a rare case to try it along with something else.  As of now, I'm still on Humira to this day along with Methotrexate.  Methotrexate was my first medicine blog, and Humira will be my last for now.  Thanks for all my readers, and if you'd like to see more medicine blogs in the future, please feel free to ask!  I did blogs on just a few of the medications I have tried over the years, but can do some that I haven't because I am curious as well.  I could interview people who are on different ones and get their take on the medication.  Take care, and wishing everyone a late Happy Independence Day!!

3 Comments:

Blogger Deb aka murphthesurf said...

You are the first patient I know that has had this combination. I have NEVER heard of two heavy duty meds like these being used together and I would have suspected such a side effect given the potentcy of your med combination. You are fortunate it was caught in time...thank goodness too! Hope your current med combo sustains you for a long time.

July 6, 2011 at 5:02 AM  
Blogger Pain Free...One Day said...

I tried Humira as my first biologic, and am glad that it is working for you. I am currently on Simponi and if this doesn't work the next might be Rituxan. Although I am more afraid of this biologic than any other especially when I read that it can affect your lungs, that is the reason I had to stop Actemra (which other than that was working like a charm). I was so surprised that your rheumy used both biologics at the same time, I certainly never heard of that before. You were brave to try that treatment, don't think I would be that brave.

July 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It definitely was unheard of to try this combination. I've had a rough history with bad allergic reactions to many medications, so we were running out of options. I'll try anything as long as it might help.

July 11, 2011 at 10:43 AM  

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