Friday, December 29, 2017

LIFE ON LEFLUNOMIDE

Remember when I was getting PT for arthritis? Ha!
I'm writing this post mainly to help anybody out who might find this blog via searching for running with psoriatic arthritis while taking methotrexate or leflunomide, etc, etc. I can only share my experiences, but I did detail my journey with methotrexate pretty extensively and I feel like I've been ignoring this drug switch a little. Anyways, running wise there is nothing new, I am still running at least twice during the week and then a long run on the weekend, so full steam ahead there. It's very challenging to stay motivated with the cold and the dark but that's why a race like Miami is so beneficial. Gives me motivation to get out there!

Long story short, I am loving leflunomide so much more than methotrexate. Like orders of magnitude more. It's like one of those Magic Wave ovens... "set it and forget it!" Instead, in this case, it's "take it before bed and forget it!" With methotrexate I was always conscious about the fact I was on it and it was affecting my body. Now, in terms of symptom relief, it was amazing! Essentially full remission of psoriatic arthritis. The price I had to pay though was steep... feeling like shit one day a week after taking it, constant bruising, dreading the next dose and constantly thinking about it, ridiculously prone to sunburn, etc. The side effects weren't going down and the thought of taking that for decades to come was very depressing.

Also in the "try again!" hall of fame.
I'm so glad I made the switch. When I complained at my rheumatologist appointment she presented leflunomide as an alternative but really didn't expect me to agree to it so easily. She was basically like "You don't have to decide now, you can think about it and if at your next appointment you are still struggling with methotrexate, we can switch." And I was like "No, let's switch it now." Very glad I pulled the trigger, if I hadn't, I would still be taking methotrexate. Just writing this post and thinking about it is genuinely making me nauseous.

With leflunomide I just take my daily pill before bed. It's a very small pill and the only side effect sometimes is a rumbly tummy. Sometimes I don't even feel it. Sometimes it's annoying for about 15 minutes. Never is it too bad. Probably has something to do with the last time I ate. Other than that I have noticed zero side effects. The potential side effects are similar to methotrexate but I haven't experienced any of them. The sunburn one will have to wait, but otherwise I feel back to normal. When I was first taking methotrexate I had problems sleeping too, that is no issue here.

As for symptom relief... I would say it's almost on par with methotrexate. I don't think it's had a fair shake yet, right when I switched I got a little more serious about running to train for the Holiday Half and just now it has built up to near full efficacy. There also was a chance at a small flare as the methotrexate worn down and the leflunomide built up. I think I did experience this a little... I had some slight jaw and upper back pain a couple weeks ago. And my knees felt a little funny. It's hard to tell with them, whether or not they are just a little worn from a run or if they are feeling some inflammation... at super low levels it's tough to distinguish. Regardless, at this level it doesn't effect my ability to run or do anything at all.

Onward! My long awaited return to Corvallis this spring!
The jaw pain and back pain is basically gone again and my knees feel pretty good. I want to say maybe like 95% of the way to where they were with methotrexate, but that also might be me being picky and concentrating on them so much trying to compare and contrast. Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, they feel AMAZING compared to this time last year. I can run and maintain half marathon shape without a doubt. Pretty confident they can handle a full marathon too. I still don't know if there is a speed or distance barrier I am going to hit with them, but I'll just keep plugging along and see what happens.

Overall, I am thrilled with how things have turned out. It was the relief I was hoping for during 2016! As for my plans in 2018... a return to the marathon is in the cards! I already tried, and failed, to get into the Chicago Marathon. My next attempt will be the New York Marathon lottery in January (results in February). That has a < 20% acceptance rate, so probably not a good bet that I get in. I will then try the Marine Corp Marathon, which apparently has an ~85% acceptance rate. Should that fail, I'll just sign up for some less popular race, location TBD.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming! Jawahar Thomas

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