Good gravy it’s been a little rough lately. My immune system is on vacation or something. Actually I think it has to do with the recent change in my meds, which is the motivation for this post.
Thankfully I only take one medication these days, Actemra. At first I took it every two weeks, but that wasn’t quite enough – even with diet, exercise, and oils, I need a little help with my joints. So last rheumy appointment we increased the dose to weekly. Joint wise, it was exactly what I needed, but I’ve been sick twice in the past month. I can’t tell you the last time I was in bed sick all day, for multiple days – it’s been a WHILE.
I haven’t missed it.
It’s the balancing act many chronic illness patients deal with – the benefits vs the side effects of meds. What’s worth it? It’s a different line for everyone. That’s why there are so many med options – we all react differently. Yes, some side effects are serious business. We’ve all read the warning, “Serious allergic reactions, including death can occur…. “ Thankfully I’ve not experience anything life threatening. Sadly, I do know of people who have. This really is serious business. Be your own advocate and do your research on anything you are doing!
And while the side effects I’ve dealt with haven’t been life threatening, they have been life altering for sure.
Methtrexate was NOT my friend and I was happy to put that at the top of my ditch list once I began seeing the benefits of my more natural lifestyle choices. The whole balancing act is exhausting and discouraging. In my methotrexate days, I’d lose 2 days every week from the mtx hangover. I felt like my life was over. I was in my early 40’s and was falling deeper and deeper into despair. I thought I’d be on that nasty yellow stuff for the rest of my life, and I just couldn’t. Planquenil kept me in the bathroom ALL.DAY.LONG. Pass.
Actemra has been okay. My cholesterol has been a bit of a problem for the first time ever. I’ve been adding in oils like lemongrass that support healthy cholesterol, which seems to be helping. Actemra can also cause increased chance of upper respiratory issues, which is probably why I have the crud yet again. I may push this to every 10 days and see if that’s a better balance.
In the meantime, I’m soothing my misery with some natural options that are quite helpful. Fennel essential oil or the Digestzen blend reduces the pressure in my sinuses if I apply it topically. Lemon oil (or On Guard blend), honey, and apple cider vinegar in the morning to support the old immune system. Alison’s Magic Throat Spray has been a godsend with helping me rest at night or get through a convo without ending in a coughing fit.
Alison’s Magic Throat Spray
2 ounce spray bottle
8 drops of on guard essential oil blend
10 drops of lemon (or 5 lemon/5 lime) essential oil
3 drops of melissa essential oil
4 drops peppermint essential oil
2 drops of myrrh essential oil
1 drop of sandalwood essential oil
Top with a carrier oil and spray either topically or internally.
Remember though - when you are trying to manage a chronic illness, you have to hit it on all fronts, not only meds. (and yes, I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating)
Holistic healthcare is like a pie. (YUM)
There’s a piece for many different areas:
diet, exercise, stress ,
oils/natural options, and modern meds, all those parts are important. If we neglect one area, we can miss out on feeling the best we possibly can. I wish there was a magic formula we could all follow, but it’s different for each one of us.
Navigating this pie is certainly an ever changing one of a kind journey – but boy does it help to have you all out there. A solid support network is vital. Many of you have been there for me when I’ve felt frustrated or uncertain or miserable. I’m here for you all too. Spoonies stick together! <3
What side effects have you found ways to deal with and which ones were just to