Dear Enbrel

Dear Enbrel,

The first time I met you, two years ago, you changed my life and in so doing, gave me a second chance. You took away the pain and inflammation in my joints and the damp sogginess that had been part of me since I was four years old. And, just as astonishing, you took away the nausea that had also been part of me for over 30 years. It was like magic. Every day, I got a little stronger, discovering what healthy feels like and everyday, I fell more in love with life, feeling drunk with the intensity of it all, happier than I can ever remember being. You were everything I'd hoped you would be.

That's not to say that there weren't some problems - nothing is 100% perfect, is it? It turned out that just as you intensified all the colours in the world, all the beauty, you also intensified everything else. There were drastic changes in the way I ate as my body no longer put up with any kind of crap and for a long time, I ate no sugar at all. That was OK - sugar is no good for you anyway. As my immune system fought against being suppressed, my histamine levels went through the roof and I became allergic to almost everything, eventually most vegetables and fruits. Not terrific, but as the rest of my diet was alarmingly healthy for the first time ever, I accepted it. I also accepted the increase in asthma symptoms and my skin becoming oversensitive. developing rashes where the seams in my clothes rubbed against the skin, but it seemed a small price to pay for feeling so good.

T
he weight melted of me and at first, I thought it was because I was moving more, but then realized that half of the calories I ate went to you. It took me long time to change the way I ate - after all, I was used to eating less than it would take to make me full to avoid intense nausea, but eventually, I figured it out and ate more then I ever had before. I called it "eating like a real person" and despite the significant impact on my budget, it was OK – eating again was wonderful. At first, I thought you were making my fibromyalgia worse, but eventually found out that one of your side effects were "neurological symptoms", such as muscle tension. It felt like almost every muscle in my body was in constant spasm( hint: the bladder is also a muscle. You can learn to ignore feeling like you have to pee all the time). The pain in my muscles and tendons was a little harder to learn to live with, but I discovered muscle relaxants and medication for nerve pain and that kept me going for a while longer.

B
ut the thing is, dear Enbrel, I have lately realized that over time, you have restricted my life almost as much as the arthritis did two years ago. I feel better generally and I do more in my home, but my territory has become increasingly narrow, limited to my immediate neighbourhood because it hurts too much to drive further. My ability to do anything for longer than half an hour is gone, because I need to constantly switch what I'm doing to keep the muscle spasms at bay. And then we get back to those pesky nerves. Not only do they register pain at a very loud level, but not too long ago, they seemed to get confused about things, e.g., having difficulty switching over from registering cold to warm, so that despite my legs being warm, they still felt like ice. That was kind of scary. And they weren't the only thing that was getting wonky - I was no longer feeling healthy, my body taking the fight against your suppression to another level and I feel strange all the time, not right. Long story short, Enbrel, the bad is outweighing the good.

I am sorry to say this, because we have had a good time, you and I, but I have decided to move on. I found someone new, someone much like you - both of you suppress the TNF (tumor necrosis factor), but whereas you are made from mouse cells, I am told that Humira is made from cloned human cells and I hope that this difference will be enough for what's been happening to simmer down, so that I can feel healthy again.

I've done my best to honour that second chance you gave me to become the person I'd always wanted to be and that is why I am going, even though the thought of leaving you scares me spitless. It is because the pain and weirdness going on in my body is distracting me from living, requiring too much time and attention, leaving the rest of my time and energy depleted. It is time for the good to outweigh the bad again.

I will always be grateful for what you gave me and I wish you the best. Thank you for giving me back my life.

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