After the posts last 2 days, from the responses of some, I know that some RA patients have yet to understand the recovery process. Therefore, I feel that it is very important that I share my experience here hoping to create more awareness of the recovery process.
I started my DMARDs in Jul 2014. I was lucky to be treated very early. My attack was quick and I was collapsed. I had been a very healthy person and I hardly took a few days medical leaves throughout my career life.
I developed a lot of side effects from MTX. My whole body was swelling up like a balloon which I felt I could burse anytime. I changed a large size of my shoes and clothes to accommodate that.
My rheumy put me to the occupational therapy at the start and I was treated with hot and ice packs on different part of my body. They used hot sand to sand my hands. They also used a kind of electrical acupuncture equipment to plug on my hands, legs and shoulders.
I did a lot of research after I was diagnosed of RA. My rheumy told me that MTX took 4 to 6 months to kick in. When I went back for my second appointment in Sept 2014, after 2 months of treatment, the pain was still unbearable. Came Nov 2014, I questioned my rheumy why I was still in extreme pain after 4 months of treatment? My rheumy told me to be patient, the pain would go off very slowly.
My rheumy increased my MTX dosage, immediately I felt a little relief. When I went back to see her in Jan 2015, that was the 4th appointment after 6 months of treatment, my pain indicator was still 8 but I could feel that it reduced. I told my rheumy of my feeling happily. She said it was because my body started to get use to MTX and she did increase the dosage for me.
She said that since MTX was working, I could slowly stop prednisolone. My body weight dropped tremendously. I left with 38 kg and I had only skin on bone with me. I looked very old and horrible. Looking at the problem of muscle wastage on me, my rheumy immediately sent me to the physiotherapy center to get started. He said my pain started to reduce so I should start the physio immediately.
It was a very painful process in the physiotherapy center. My neck and back were also in great pain, I walked like a machine. My physiotherapists told me to force my neck and waist to turn, I could hardly do it but I tried to follow. I did my exercises every morning and evening painfully for about 1 to 2 hours each session.
My rheumy increased the MTX dosage again on my 5th visit. I felt the pain relief tremendously again. I was so happy and I knew I was being treated correctly. What I did was continue to trust my rheumy and continue to work on my limbs and body.
Every visit that I had, I demanded to increase MTX so that the pain could reduce faster. I was always looking forward to that. After a year and a half of treatment, the pain level already reduced to a very much tolerable level but unfortunately my liver markers were bad hence my rheumy stopped to increase MTX but to put me under observation. In May 2016, when the liver markers went up to 3 times higher, she decided to reduce MTX instead. At that time, my pain level was already so much better and I was almost back to normal.
In Sept 2016, I decided to go back to the badminton court to see if I could handle the game. I was glad that I could though I did not finish the game to avoid overworked on my hands and legs.
Last week I went for my first bowling game which I was also worried about the weight of the ball and the momentum of the swing? Glad to say that I did it quite okay too.
What I want to say here is MTX needs a long time to work on us. We must be patient and must not expect immediate painless result after the 4 months. I hope my experience of the recovery process does give you a good indicator of what to expect.