As many Crohn’s and colitis patients come to realize, their disease is managed by medications. Some of us get infusions, others take injections. While some may take one to three pills a day, others may take fourteen to twenty in one day. It all varies, and since being diagnosed, I haven’t come across one patient that is on the exact same medication as another patient.
Taking pills for Crohn's disease
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I was placed on strictly a pill regiment. For a while, it worked. Sure, I had to take a lot in one day, but it was getting the job done and I was in remission. After I was diagnosed with listeria, my medications had to change a little bit. The GI doctors wanted me to start on an infusion.
Switching to an infusion medication
I had to get all types of medical tests done prior to the infusion because like most IBD drugs, this infusion would lower my body’s ability to fight off infections. Once I passed my chest x-ray, and my tuberculosis test came back negative I was ready for my first infusion. I had to sit with an IV running in my arm for three hours. Every fifteen minutes, the nurse had to check my blood pressure, and also give me Benadryl in case I had an allergic reaction. I would repeat this process every six weeks. I knew that it would not start to take effect until after the second infusion. I was excited for these infusions to start.
After the second infusion, I had not noticed a decrease in my bowel frequency or any other improvements. I actually got very discouraged. My doctor even increased the amount of the infusion he would give me. After we exhausted all of our options with this medication, we decided to go down the road to surgery.
A shift to an injection medication and pills
Let’s fast-forward from 2006 to 2013. I now had been through eleven surgeries on my stomach, and endless days in the hospital. But finally, I got on the right regiment combination. My GI doctor started me off with a combination of an injection and pills. I again had to get testing done for the injections. I also had to go take a one-night class to learn how to properly prep, inject, and post-inject clean up. I had to be very careful that I injected this medication carefully because each needle costs about $1200.00!
Do the biologic injections hurt?
Yup! There is no way around that. But the sting that lasts twenty seconds a week is better then any suffering I have ever been through. I inject on the “fatty” parts of my body once a week. I do rotate so that these parts of my body don’t get too bruised. I inject one week on the right thigh, then one week on the left. In the third week, I go to the right side of my stomach, and in the fourth week I inject on the left side. Basically I hit one area only once a month. I am also on a powerful immune-compromising drug that I take orally. These two medications combined have placed me in remission for the last three years.
Finding success with biologic medications
Now, my body could develop antibodies at any time. I also know my body can and already has manifested two major blood infections because my body can’t fight them off. But these are risks I am willing to take each day. I only wish everybody had the same medication regiment. It seems we have to tweak our medication lists numerous times throughout our lives to find the one that works the best. Let's hope to find a complete cure one day!
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