Onboard with Orencia

I remember the timeline of my medications perfectly. The day I couldn’t get out of bed, my doctor put me on a high dose of prednisone. A few more after that, I had a diagnosis and my rheumatologist added pain medication. A month later my doctor talked to me seriously about Methotrexate. I knew what it was and I resisted for a good few weeks. I eventually gave in because the steroid just wasn’t cutting it and why not add a chemotherapy drug I saw my mother on all those years ago.

Waiting for the new treatment regimen to kick in

Those first weeks were rough. I guess my Rheumatoid Disease felt better but my body certainly did not. I had chills that didn’t correspond to my pill date, my eyelashes fell out and I was vomiting like nobody’s business. We tried different supplements and ways to take MTX but ultimately, the biggest change came when I switched to a self-injection. I had no more nausea and my hair started to grow back as it got used to the medication.

This was all fine and dandy except by itself, Methotrexate wasn’t doing enough to control my symptoms. I still experienced a massive amount of pain and swelling. It was time to add some other DMARDs (which I couldn’t tolerate, at all).

Cue the biologics

At the time of my diagnosis, there were some new ones on the market. I thankfully did not have to think of Rituxin or Remicade. Two I knew about already because my mum was on them. I am actually not sure why my doctor and I never considered them. I vaguely remember him saying he did not think they would work or they were not safe for me. I’m speculating here because we didn’t spend a great amount of time speaking about those two.

I started on Enbrel relatively quickly and within a few weeks, I felt awesome. I worked full time as a veterinary technician. I lowered my prednisone dose and I had energy, stamina, and mobility! Unfortunately, the medication plateaued and within a few months and it only controlled 60-ish% of my symptoms. Nope, sorry, not good enough. I’ve always been ambitious so can’t I expect that from my medications, too?

After Enbrel, I was on Humira for a spell but quickly moved onto the Orencia subcutaneous (or, under the skin) self-injections. They were alright, I got through an India trip with them, but, they just last throughout the month. I needed something more powerful to control my symptoms. Cue the IV infusion.

When a treatment feels effective


The day after my first sit-down I went for a 4-hour hike. I felt SO GOOD. I felt NORMAL. Unfortunately, that amazing feel didn’t happen again. Don’t get me wrong, the infusion worked every month but I just didn’t feel that burst ever again. Theoretically, as the medication built up in my system, the more even-keeled the effects. I was okay with that as long as I felt well most of the time.

Over the years, I switched out from the Orencia because it plateaued and my rheumatologist and I wanted to see if something worked better. Nothing ever did.

As of now, Orencia is my lifelong partner and I’m happy with it. It’s not perfect but it has controlled my RA symptoms enough that I enjoy a relatively symptom-free life.

What are your experiences with Orencia? Did it work for you? Did it not?

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