Restarting Humira During Covid-19
My fingers on both hands have begun to swell, throb, and ache again, and I can feel them stiffening into a curled, locked position as I type this article. Each tiny movement and click of the keys sends pain shooting throughout my hands.
My "bad," damaged, right wrist is also throbbing uncharacteristically. And when I place my feet on the floor, they're sore and tender and I can see that both ankles are more swollen than usual.
There's a sinking feeling in my gut as I realize that my RA is flaring up again.
My first RA flare in months
My left shoulder aches and zaps me with pain and this also confirms it. I shouldn't be surprised of having a flare-up, of course, because flares happen all the time when you have RA and for unpredictable reasons. In addition to this, I have another high-risk factor: I've been off of my biologic drug, Humira, since November when I got COVID-19 right before Thanksgiving. So, miraculously, I've been off all of my RA medications for months, but deep down I knew it probably couldn't last.
COVID-19 and my compromised immune system
Once I recovered from a bad case of COVID-19 (Delta variant), which took over a month to recover from, I was afraid to go back on my Humira because the more contagious virus variant, Omicron, was exploding everywhere. I had just recovered from Delta and absolutely did not want to then contract Omicron, even if it typically had milder symptoms. Being immunocompromised and having an autoimmune disease, this virus is nothing to play around with, even if you've been vaccinated and boosted (which I have been).
My RA remained stable, so I kept avoiding and postponing my return to taking a biologic medication while "the plague" was infecting almost everyone in sight. I was also worried about my booster shot wearing off, because I got it early, back in August. As the months passed by, I increasingly worried that my booster shot was losing its efficacy. I did receive my second booster vaccination (my 4th shot) a few weeks ago, so that has also delayed me from restarting Humira.
It's finally time to restart Humira
Despite my continual fears of COVID-19 and not wanting to give up the happiness and hope of being able to stay off my RA medications, I feel that now is the time to restart Humira. My joints are obviously beginning to yell at me to do it, and when your body talks or screams at you in pain, it's a good idea to listen to it--no matter what you want emotionally.
So, before I go to work at my physically demanding job today, I'm going to take the self-injector Humira pen out of the fridge once again, drag out my bright red sharps container and the little alcohol wipes I need for the injection, and sit down and jab myself with this powerful medication.
When I stop to think about it, I can't believe that I've lasted this many months without it. Throughout my 20+ years of having RA, I've never been in total remission; my RA has always been classified as "moderate to severe." In my cocktail recipe of numerous different RA medications over the years, the biologic drugs have been the ones that have helped my RA the best and most. Well, other than prednisone. But we know that being on prednisone long-term is not a good or healthy option, despite how fast and well it often works.
If I can stay off of prednisone, methotrexate, plaquenil, Celebrex and only take Humira, then I'll be pretty happy. Ideally, I want to stay off of all of my RA medications, but so far that hasn't been a long-term reality. I'm ready to pinch a bit of fat from my stomach or thigh again and shoot this healing biologic drug back into my system. I just hope it will work again.
On average, how many times per month do you (or your caretaker) go to the pharmacy?
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