My Experience with Methotrexate
I've always been pretty easy-going about my Rheumatoid Arthritis medications. I trust my rheumatologist 100% and know he takes my size and stature into account when prescribing meds. I am precisely the size of a gerbil so I am sensitive to most medications. Of course, I don't blindly take whatever he gives me. I do my research. But, I also know that he wouldn't suggest something that was more unsafe than effective. All that being said, when he wrote the script for Methotrexate, I threw it out.
It scared the living daylights out of me
My mother had cancer and underwent chemotherapy. I knew my dose was nowhere near as high as hers but I worried about the same side effects: nausea, pain, fatigue,hair loss, hair growth, anemia, infections…I’m sure the list went on…
I felt fine (or, not so horrible I needed chemo!) and didn’t want that kind of medication in my body. Up until this point in my life I refused most medications (with the exception of steroids for my sinus infections). I didn’t even take a multi-vitamin! Getting on a cyto-toxic medication was 0-60 for me and I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept.
“So, how’re you feeling?”
“Changed your mind about the Methotrexate?”
My rheumatologist is a kind person and never pushes me to try new medications unless I, myself, am ready. He knows how stubborn I am and I quickly dig my heels into the ground.
Thinking about the treatment
I finally came to the decision because I needed something more than steroids to feel better. And you know what, he was right. My RA felt better but, as predicted, I ran the gamut of side effects, even with a Folic Acid supplement (which was meant to combat them). I was nauseous, my hair thinned and fell out. I even lost my eyelashes (but only on the left eye, of course). I had the chills. All. The. Time. I was tired and weak. Once, the fatigue and nausea were so bad I was bed-bound for two days.
My doctor and I (and my helicopter father) sat down again and decided on the Methotrexate subcutaneous injections. We adjusted the dose, changed the supplement (to the active form of Folic Acid - Leucovorin Calcium) and changed the time I took it.
My experience with my new treatment
This new regime was a game-changer. The new supplement helped ease the hair loss and anemia almost completely. The nausea was all but gone now that the pills weren’t sitting at the bottom of my stomach collecting dust. (Did you know a good percentage of medications aren’t absorbed and just sit in the stomach?? Yeah, I didn’t either, but that was what was causing my nausea).
The longer I am on Methotrexate the more my body assimilates to its effects. I still get chills (though they come intermittently and are probably unrelated). I am no longer anemic, my period is normal, my hair has thinned but is no longer falling out and my RA is under control (whatever that means). So, I guess for now, I'll take the Methotrexate.
Have you taken MTX? Good experience? Bad? LMK in the comments!
Have you managed RA fatigue better than you used to?