Please help me navigate this new life.
I just want to tell you that with early and aggressive treatment, your disease doesn't necessarily have to get significantly worse. Placquenil and methotrexate (mtx) are to of the first, go-to, baseline meds they almost always try. I've been on mtx for decades and it's been my mainstay. Both meds have been around for a long, long time and their efficacy and side effects are well known and documented. I also took placquenil a long time ago and it didn't do much for me, but that doesn't mean it won't work for you.
One main thing to keep in mind is that no two RA patients are the same - some will have aggressive disease, some won't. Some will respond to a certain med, others to a different med or combination of meds. You don't know what will work until you try it. The frustrating part is giving each medication a fair trial to see if it will work, which is usually up to 3 months. If something works "sort of" but not enough, another med may be combined with it and the wait starts over again.
You may not know it, but you're lucky you have a diagnosis. Sometimes autoimmune diseases can be hard to pin down b/c nothing shows up in bloodwork despite symptoms. I was dx'ed at age 5, even though "way back when" all they could do for me was feed me massive doses of aspirin. I've sort of grown up along with the ever-expanding treatments for RA. I currently take mtx, Enbrel and Mobic.
Probably my best two pieces of advice for you are 1) educate yourself and 2) never take anything a doctor says at face value, even the doctors you like. Oh, and never be afraid to "fire" a doctor and look for a new one if you think you aren't being listened to or things aren't being explained to you in a way you can understand.
Read the package inserts of all your medications, but be careful not to let the long lists of possible side effects freak you out. Drug companies are required to report everything from a sneeze to cancer during drug trials, even if it's not clear the med was the culprit. You may experience few or even no side effects, and those you do get may fade over time.
The people here on Medhelp are great. If you are on Facebook, I can suggest a fantastic support group that resides there, called RA Chicks.
Oh, one more thing, at some point in your treatment you may be given a drug called prednisone. It can seem like a miracle drug because it can make all your symptoms vanish "like magic", but the long term side effects of this stuff are not pretty. Use it sparingly as a tool to help you get through until the "bigger guns" kick in, but never, ever rely on it.
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