Sunday, June 16, 2019

Arthritis meds should make you feel better, not worse!


What a week! I’m glad to be on the other side of it! I had a major arthritis flare unlike any I’ve had in a long time. Pain relief finally came around but things still got worse before they got better. You see, I made a rookie mistake. I took my methotrexate on Saturday morning instead of waiting for bedtime.

Methotrexate is an add-on medication for me, and for plenty of other arthritis sufferers. Some people take it on its own, but many of us take it in conjunction with our biologic drugs. This medicine is also used for cancer, but in much higher doses. Still, it can sometimes cause some awfully unpleasant side effects.
The crazy thing is that I was aware of these unwanted side effects because I’ve had them in the past. This is not my first rodeo; I knew better than to take this in the morning. But, you can’t untake an injection. So, I was left to suffer with some pretty miserable GI symptoms all day yesterday and spent a beautiful and sunny afternoon at home in bed.

While I was laying in bed thinking about how bad I felt, I started thinking about all the people who are told by their doctors that they need to start taking methotrexate. What would I want to know if this medicine was newly prescribed to me.

I have a few tips, but I knew that my friends at the Psoriatic Arthritis Support Group on Facebook would have many that I had never even thought of. So, here they are…our tips for taking methotrexate without feeling like crap!

  • Dose up just before bed. I’ve never had an upset stomach when I go to bed just after taking it.
  • Methotrexate is available as a subq injection or as an oral medication. I take the injection because my doc told me it’s easier on the stomach. Others in the PsA Support Group on Facebook recommend the injections, too.
    • If you need to take the oral formula, Caitlin McCoy recommends that you drink lots of water two days prior to taking the pills. Then take the methotrexate with food. Take probiotics and avoid the sun and heat.
  • Take folic acid every day. This helps fight off those feelings of GI upset, mouth ulcers and icky feelings that come with methotrexate.
  • Avoid alcohol as much as possible. Methotrexate can be hard on the liver and so can booze.  Your doctor should require regular blood monitoring just to keep an eye on your liver. I will have a drink every now and then, but I recommend that you consider your health before drinking to excess on a regular basis.
  • Leticia Keener says that ginger root is helpful in fighting methotrexate related nausea. If your GI upset is particularly difficult, talk to your doctor about a prescription medication. There are also prescription medications that your doctor may be able to give you if ginger doesn’t help.
  • There are a few folks who say that the only thing that helps get past the side effects of methotrexate is cannabis. Apparently, a little is all you need to resolve the headache, stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. Good to know!

I’ve found to be methotrexate a very beneficial medication that has been used for many years. I will continue to take it, but you can be certain that I will never again take it early in the day.

What do you do to prevent symptoms?

P.S. Now seems like a good time for a quick reminder. If you want to abbreviate methotrexate, it’s MTX and NOT Meth. That’s something else. 😊

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