It is Sunday morning and I have to go pick up 4 prescriptions at two different pharmacies. I find it hard to come to terms with the money being spent at these two pharmacies when i have found little or no relief from the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is hard because our family finances are incredibly strained at the moment and I am worried about just having enough money to feed my children. I decide that it is better to pay with cash for the drugs and write a bad check for the food, something I wish I didn't have to do right now but with a husband not working and me making a lousy $800 a month it is a necessity. I take a deep breath and try to relax my shoulders which are causing me a lot of discomfort lately. Do you know you use your shoulders every time you move your head or your arms, yes painfully I know this is true.
I pull up to the first Pharmacy which is handling my Methotrexate which is a "specialty" medication. I am pretty sure means they can charge you more money for it. I walk in and pass all the cosmetics, vitamins, and beach attire and head for the back corner of the store. The pharmacist welcomes me and takes my name and looks up the order. She is a small women of Asian decent, very pretty and sweet looking, I smile and wait. "Ok Mrs. Thomas we have your order ready" she says. I pull out my ATM card and swipe it, the register beeps. "Oh Mrs. Thomas I want to make sure you are not taking Ibuprofen with this medication," she says. I look at her blankly and say, "I take 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen 4 times a day." Her face goes cold and suddenly she looks not so nice and friendly, "Mrs. Thomas if you take Ibuprofen and Methotrexate together it can cause severe damage to your kidneys and can cause internal bleeding. You should talk to your doctor about this. I am sure she put you on the ibuprofen before you started the methotrexate and after about 6 weeks of the methotrexate you should have little or no pain and should not need the ibuprofen." I looked at her blankly and thought oh how ignorant you are of the realities of this disease. I wanted to actually yell at her but I didn't I smiled and said, "I also take Enbrel injections, pain pills, and muscle relaxants and my pain never goes away." We finish the transaction and I leave to go on to the next pharmacy to retrieve two other orders.
How do we educate people about this disease? How do we explain that Enbrel, Humaria,methorexate are not miracle drugs. They do work for some people but not for everyone. My only hope is that the drugs are preventing me from having further joint damage, I don't even wish or hope for them to remove the pain for it seems that I will just have to live with the discomfort. I do long to wake up in the morning and just feel good, to feel like I have the energy to face what is ahead of me.