I’ve learned a lot in the last few days about how badly you can screw up your life and not realize what’s happening until it’s almost too late.
Firstly, I’m taking a relatively small dose of methetrexate for psoriatic arthritis. Things were good, well, as good as the can be, suffering the side effects because you are supposed to believe it’s controlling the problem.
Note: Psoriatic arthritis cannot be cured, only have its effects ‘managed’. I have been on it for 15 months and to a degree it’s working.
The problems begin when you have other problems, and then it becomes a juggling act with all the pills that one has to take.
So, secondly, let’s assume that the medication regime for the first ailment, psoriatic arthritis is:
panadol osteo (for pain management)
steroids, but only short term
Leflunomide (also for arthritis)
There’s the first problem, steroids work really well for arthritis. Unfortunately the long term effect of using them is horrendous.
This leaves the second problem, pain management. Panadol Osteo just doesn’t cut it.
This leaves you with generally with frequent periods of pain and the ugly side effects of dizziness in sunshine, constant nausea, and toilet problems.
But, for the really stupid, and believe me, I fit perfectly into that category, you can take Celebrex, a stronger form of ipbrufen, or you can take ipbrufen
It helps with the pain, but as I discovered, almost too late, it leads to acute kidney failure. Oh yes, and a lot of other unwanted problems.
Which brings us to thirdly, the fact I finished in hospital for quite a different reason altogether.
Methetrexate actually lessens the effectiveness of your immune system. This can lead to all sorts of other complications and in my particular case, chest pain and short breath.
Several doctors considered this to be one of the side effects of methetrexate and reduced immune system leading to a respiratory infection.
I labored under the impression this was the problem this time but after three weeks I thought it was time to see a doctor.
An ECG and general check didn’t dispute this initial diagnoses, and for it I was put on a particular type of antibiotic.
Ok, this has side effects like rashing in the sun and badly behaving with methetrexate. Ok, let’s hope it works.
But just in case he order a particular blood test to see if there was any cardiac issues. It came back abnormally high and I was told to drop everything a get to a hospital.
So I’m getting all these tests for the possibility I was going to have an imminent heart attack, I lying on a bed in the emergency department, almost having a heart attack from being given the news that because I had psoriatic arthritis exponentially increases the possibility of having one.
The echo-cardiogram said I was not having a cardiac event. Investigation of the symptoms pointed towards angina, but with a few more unpronounceable words either side.
But that was, the doctor said, the least of my problems. The next minute he says my blood test has come back advising I had acute kidney failure, my kidneys had stopped working.
That explained a lot.
So, here’s the thing. Pill juggling is not something we lay people should contemplate. There’s a reason why you are asked to consult your doctor before taking any different medicine, particularly if it isn’t a prescribed medicine.
I have learned by bitter experience.
Do not take ipbrufen or any of its friends if you are on methetrexate. If you do it will destroy your kidneys. I was lucky it was caught in time.
And also there was another medication I take for high blood pressure, has a component in it that doesn’t help your kidneys either.
It means of course that you need to have a regular review of your medication regime, and regular blood tests to make sure the pill combinations aren’t killing you.
As I said I’m lucky.
Except I now have a problem with angina and the remedies for this are far, far scarier than my psoriatic arthritis.
That is, until I finished up in hospital again several days later with a far more serious problem.