None of her previous non-biologic treatments have worked long-term. Her condition deteriorated to such an extent that she was housebound and needed help with most things. Currently she is on Enbrel and Methotrexate and her condition is much improved.
At the age of twenty-two Kate started to experience tingling in her fingers and was told that she might have ‘a bit of arthritis. Her symptoms worsened and she was referred to a rheumatologist who started her on medication. Over the years she has tried different drugs such as Leflunomide, Methotrexate and Gold injections. In her experience, all these medications have worked for different lengths of time but then became ineffective. Eventually, her condition deteriorated to such an extent that she was practically housebound and unable to do much. For the last two years she has been on anti-TNF therapy; etanercept (Enbrel) which she says is a very good drug that works for her. She also takes Methotrexate and does not experience side effects. Kate says that rheumatoid arthritis is a very individual condition and people react differently to different medications and that is why doctors needed to try her on various therapies to see if they would work before starting her on Enbrel.
Kate said that doctors provided all the necessary information about the anti-TNF therapy and more importantly, they made sure that she understood it well. She feels well looked after by her medical team and says that she is able to contact them, including her consultant if she needs advice, particularly in situations when she is ill with a cold and in doubt as to whether to take her Enbrel injection. Kate also says that her consultant raises, at every opertunity, the importance of planning a pregnancy when on anti-TNF treatment. Kate has decided not to have any children and her main reason is that she is not prepared to come off her medications. This is an issue that she and her partner have discussed and are both in agreement.
Kate attended a course for two hours every week for five weeks organised by her hospital for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The course introduced a wide range of information and ideas such as special kitchen equipment for people with RA, exercise and diet. Kate says that it was a good course because it was the type of information that you wouldn’t normally get from your healthcare team.
Kate has made several modifications in her home to make life easier like re-arranging her kitchen and having a shower room instead of a bathroom. Kate still experiences stiffness in the morning but that it is something that she accepts and has learned to live with.