Pearl was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 1991, aged forty and was put on methotrexate. Eighteen months ago and initially as part of a clinical trial, she started to take a newer anti-TNF therapy; Simponi. Her current treatment also includes methrotrexate, but in a smaller dosage.
Pearl was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 1991, aged forty and was put on methotrexate oral-form. She has taken this treatment ever since but now she takes it in injection form as it began to affect her stomach. Alongside methotrexate, Pearl has tried other medications such as leflunomide and sulfasaladine but no single, or combination therapy succeeded in controlling her RA. Pearl would feel fine for a couple of weeks and then pain would start to affect her. Furthermore, every twelve to fifteen weeks she would experience episodes of very painful and debilitating flare ups that left her being unable to move. The flare ups affected her jaw, ankles and shoulders. This pattern of having short periods of feeling well followed by severe periods where she couldn’t be able to do anything remained constant since her diagnosis until she started her Simponi treatment.
Pearl was invited by her rheumatology clinic to volunteer for clinical trials and waited for 18 months before she had the chance to take part in the Simponi (golimumab) trial. She said she was given all sorts of information about this new drug by the specialist nurse, but was still very concerned about side effects and therefore, undecided. She spoke to her consultant, who answered all her questions and explained what they so far knew about the potential side effects of Simponi. Afterwards, she felt reassure and decided to go ahead.
The Simponi trial period lasted twelve months and during that time she had to go to the hospital to have her monthly injection and checkups. Now, she receives a monthly delivery of the Simponi at home and she injects herself. In terms of follow-ups she now goes to the clinic once every week for her methotrexate injection and once a month for blood tests. Soon after she started on Simponi, her methotrexate was stopped because her liver was affected by her combined therapy. It is only recently she has been put back into methotrexate but at a lower dosage. Liver tests are fine.
Blood tests results are showing that the level of joint inflammation has gone right down but Pearl is not yet in remission. Since starting her Simponi treatment, Pearl has not had repeats of the very bad flare ups she used to have. She still experiences various levels of pain but she feels able to cope with it. Moreover, she is not as exhausted as she used to be and hence, able to have a social life in the evenings.
Pearl thinks that the care and support she gets from her consultant and nurses is second to none but she advices doctors to talk to their patients about the possible impact of RA on sex life. She thinks that such an issue should be discussed early on to help couples better understand and manage this aspect of their lives.