Unchanged, grossly normal, unremarkable —– These are some of my favorite words that were included in my most recent MRI report. Very good news. It confirms that my MS has remained stable for another year.
I have been very fortunate. In fact I haven’t had a BIG, steroids-required, symptoms-out-of-control relapse in four years. When I think back to the last one I realize what a difference four years and a minor change in treatment philosophy makes.
Back in 2011, I had a lot of health issues going on and I was suffering from ‘doctor fatigue’ – that feeling you’ve had too many doctor’s appointments and you’re tired of making ‘medical care’ your full-time job and not enough time to take care of yourself.
When I blogged about ‘doctor fatigue’ in 2011, these were some of the things I talked about: 1) failing to schedule an appointment with my rheumatologist in the summer, 2) skipping routine blood monitoring, and 3) not calling the office when I experienced flares. When I finally did schedule an appointment, it was to schedule Rituxan infusions.
At the time, we were waiting to schedule infusions until AFTER I began to experience the return of symptoms (of MS or RA) and I was trying to tough it out. That November, I experienced an MS relapse that affected my walking ability with increased weakness and numbness in my limbs and severe fatigue. A round of solumedrol reduced both my MS and RA symptoms. It was at this point my doctors and I decided that I should try to schedule Rituxan infusions BEFORE symptoms began to return or relapses or flares occurred.
Fast forward to this fall at the end of a very busy string of medical visits and I get good news that reinforces our decision to continue Rituxan infusions every 6 months was the right choice. Rituxan (rituximab) is a B-cell depleting therapy that is used for a variety of conditions including lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Recent trials with a drug that works in the same way, ocrelizumab, showed effectiveness against MS.