at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Humira:1-Year Anniversary & The Wrist Test

Testing out my wrist flexibility and range of motion with rheumatoid disease.
It's hard to believe, but it has now been a full year since I have been on Humira to treat my rheumatoid disease (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis).  Click here to view all of my blog posts along this journey.  I made the switch from Enbrel to Humira in December of 2011, after a period of elevated rheumatoid disease activity.  At the time, my doctor was most concerned about my wrists.  He noted some joint space narrowing and was concerned that the bones could begin to fuse.  Ironically, it wasn't until shortly after I made the switch that I began to experience the worst symptoms in my wrists.  I think because I was only on bi-weekly injections to begin with, my symptoms had a chance during this changeover period to take hold a little deeper.  After switching to weekly injections, waiting another couple of months, adding Plaquenil (hydroxycholorquine), and waiting another couple of months I finally saw some real and sustained progress.  This fall I have felt better than I have felt in at least a couple of years.  The only real lingering symptoms remain in my wrists: they are weak and still won't bend all of the way.

If you take a look at my photo above, I am putting my palms together and raising my elbows (and consequently bending at the wrist) as far as I can get them to go.  I should be able to at least get them to bend up to a 90-degree angle, but I think I get stuck around 45.  At that point they begin to become painful if I apply pressure and they really won't budge.  Which leads me to question: is this permanent?  Perhaps.  I've thought in the past that many of my symptoms were permanent -- symptoms that lasted for years.  For instance, shortly after I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my right index finger became swollen and refused to bend -- for about three years.  I thought I would never be able to make a fist again.  But, eventually that symptom waned and the disease found another area to target.  For over two years, the middle joint on most of my fingers was swollen.  My wedding ring was stuck on.  So much for keeping it clean.  I thought it might never come off again.  But, guess what -- it did.  As Humira and Plaquenil began to work their magic, the swelling on my fingers slowly decreased.  For a few months now, I've been able to slide my ring off my finger with relative ease -- and wear rings that I hadn't been able to get on in a long time!

Humira - my shield against rheumatoid disease.
So, what's different about my wrists?  I'm concerned that the problem in my wrist does not lie in swelling as my finger problems did.  I think it lies in joint damage and changes to the joint structure.  I did not get x-rays done last time I was in to see my rheumatologist, but I imagine I will next time.  I will be curious to see what it reveals -- if there have been any changes since a year ago.  I wouldn't doubt if some extra damage occurred during my first few months on Humira, as my symptoms were the greatest then.  The good news is, my wrists no longer hurt without applying too much weight or pressure to them, and I have not lost any additional functionality.  Certain things I still cannot do: I won't be bowling at my company's annual employee appreciation party, for one.  I tried last year, and it was pretty disastrous (except for the fact that I went home with a prize for worst bowler!).  And I certainly can't do normal push-ups anymore.  Or gymnastics with my niece.  But I can lift things and hold things (like babies!) much better than I could a year ago.  I have to hope that Humira will work to protect me from further damage and keep the disease from progressing.  It is still my shield, and I have little choice but to trust it to be my defense against rheumatoid disease!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!