Starting Humira as Treatment for RA

In May 2019, I took my first injection of Humira. It was the first time I had been on a biologic for treatment of my rheumatoid arthritis.

Previously, I had only been on Plaquenil since I had elevated lupus markers since being diagnosed in October 2018. The problem was that Plaquenil was not enough to treat my symptoms. I needed something stronger, as I was still waking up with sore and painful joints, feeling very fatigued, and just generally not feeling well.

It was not a good time in my life, just after receiving my diagnosis.

Concerns about starting a biologic

I had a lot of concerns about taking a biologic like Humira. Even though you see all the commercials for it (and other biologics), I was troubled by the potential side effects of the drugs. Indeed, Humira has a black box warning on it because of side effects and because of its immunosuppressive effects. That does not make taking the drug any easier. In fact, it makes it a lot worse.

From the immunosuppressive effects to potential cancer to having regular sinus infections, I was worried so much. But, a year and a half later, I have not developed any of those side effects - though occasionally, I will experience some sinus symptoms the day after I inject myself.

The cost of Humira

The other thing that perturbed me about taking Humira was the cost. Humira costs about $10,800 for a two-month supply for me — without insurance. Thankfully, I do have insurance that covers Humira, which was not without its troubles and headaches, including getting prior authorization and working with my rheumatologist as almost an insurance agent to ensure that everything would turn out okay. And it did.

It’s just hard to have that amount of money every two months weighing on you when you are trying to balance everything else in your life. This is a common sentiment expressed in our community: having a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis is like having a full-time job.

Humira has been a positive force in my life

Despite these downsides, I would say that my experience with Humira has been overall helpful. I do not have that much joint pain anymore — at least not as much as I did when I was first diagnosed. I can wash myself without too much trouble.

And while I still feel fatigued pretty much every day which can be attributed to things beyond RA - including depression, other mental problems, and the general stress of everyday life — Humira has definitely been a positive force in my life.

There have been downsides

Starting Humira has not been without its downsides, though. Nearly every weekend after I have to take an injection, I have to take it easy due to the “Humira Hangover,” where I feel the symptoms of a hangover: headache, feeling like there is a bunch of cotton in my head, having some congestion, and more.

Weighing the costs and benefits

I see this as a cost that definitely outweighed by the benefits of the drug. And sometimes that is what life is all about: assessing benefits versus costs to figure out what works best in your life. It’s not always simple, and it might not always work out the way you want it to.

But, I’ve found that generally speaking, things do tend to work out — even if it requires a massive re-shifting and re-configuring of your life.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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