“You’re not taking any medications?”  asked the nurse.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.  Why would I want to take pills if I don’t need them?”

“Count your blessings.  Most people your age have a list of drugs they take.”

That was only four years ago at a routine checkup with my family physician.  It seems like a lifetime.  Sometimes I think that nurse cursed me!*

Not too long after that appointment I had my first appointment with a rheumatologist, which led to my first DMARD.  Plaquenil is considered one of the milder RA drugs, and I was happy to feel so much better.   An NSAID to reduce inflammation was prescribed along with the DMARD.

A third medication was prescribed for combatting Raynauds symptoms, and that winter I was able to build snowmen with my children  – without losing circulation in my fingers and toes.

Spring came, and with the warmer weather I jumped at the chance to discontinued the Raynauds drug.

Then a new prescription, this time to stop headaches.  Followed by a new med to prevent headaches in the first place.  It didn’t work, so we tried a different one, increasing the dose until finally the headaches stopped.

Unfortunately the RA continued to progress, and another DMARD was added.

Dose increased.

I bought a pill box.

Another DMARD added.  Plus a med to ward of side effects.

Dose increased.

Another dose increase.

When I still flared on triple therapy, a biologic was next in line.  And finally I felt reasonably well.

According to my rheumatologist, this is too many drugs.   I agree, so was ecstatic when she said that we’d work on – one at a time – whittling it down to a more reasonable number.

I got to stop all the big yellow pills (sulfasalazine), but after about six weeks it became apparent that wasn’t a good idea.  Unfortunately, this was about the time we left for vacation and I missed out on what would have been some terrific hikes.  Walking from the hotel to the car was a major undertaking; trekking up and down canyons would have been impossible.  After resuming the ssz, it took another two months to start feeling better again – but I never made it back as great as I had been.

Still trying to reduce the meds, seven weeks ago I stopped the hydroxychloroquine.  For the most part I’ve been really happy with my rheumatologist, but this was not one of her better ideas.

Does it sound like whining if I yell, Why is this happening?!   A biologic plus mtx should be enough.  I thought for sure that I’d get to take fewer drugs, and was really looking forward to drastically reducing the time I spend swallowing pills (and reducing the amount of money I spend at the pharmacy).

If I ever get back to feeling the way I did last February, I’ll have a new motto:

If it aint broke, don’t fix it.


Bonus points to anyone who understands the pictures 🙂


*I also think she was wrong.  Most people don’t even go to the doctor, let along have a list of drugs they take.  Perhaps she should have said something along the lines of, “Most people we see are here for follow-up of chronic conditions, so I’m not used to seeing people who are healthy.”