I Fought Using a Biologic For Years

For the last six years when I auto-inject my biologic into my leg, I have a ritual of breathing in, mentally saying “Thank you for improving my life, “and breathing out. When I started using a biologic in August 2010, it almost instantly changed my life. I was in more pain than I wanted to admit, could barely move my body, and it was starting to wear on my relationships. It was time.
I fought using a biologic for years.  The monotone manner my rheumatologist used as he went through the side effects along with the commercials that backed up my fears, I was very slow when it came to warming up to biologics. When my rheumatologist first introduced the idea to me through brochures, I took them home and trashed them.  No way would I EVER go that route. I would try everything else before I took the leap of using a biologic.
Try everything else is exactly what I did. I hooked up with a naturopath the same year I was diagnosed. She guided me through an elimination diet that got me off prednisone about nine months later. Working with her honestly saved me during those first years. I desperately needed emotional support and received zero percent of that from my rheumatologist. Looking back now, I think if I had changed rheumatologists earlier, I might have taken a slightly different path, but who knows. I don’t regret the path I took. Each visit with my naturopath empowered me. She taught me to really listen to my body – a gift I will always value. I sought out other alternative practitioners also for acupuncture, other body manipulations, supplements, etc. I believed 100% that I could get my rheumatoid arthritis under control with little to no medications, despite my naturopath telling me otherwise. But I learned so much about myself during this time. While it was physically painful, the pain kept me focused on making other changes in my life. I made myself a priority and let a lot of guilt I had bundled up my entire life go free.

Six years into my diagnosis, I had been on and off  RA medications. I think now that it was when I had made the necessary changes in my way of life that I was ready to accept that I needed a biologic. Again, it was my naturopath who asked the question, “Are the side effects of a biologic worse than not being able to live your life?” This was the question I needed. She talked me through my goals in life and without telling me what to do, strongly agreed that starting a biologic was in my best interest.

Sometimes in our community I feel those of us who choose an alternative route are looked at as being irresponsible. The idea behind this is that rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease and action should be taken quickly. I agree, RA is serious, but, we are each so different. I NEEDED to go through this long phase of denying a biologic to gain control over my emotional and spiritual body. By rejecting a biologic for so long did I do permanent damage to my physical body? I guess I will never know for sure. I do have some permanent damage to my knee and toes, numerous nodules that have continued with meds, and a few fingers that are slightly wonky. These changes could have occurred even while on medications. But if they are due to not starting on a biologic right away, they seem small in my mind now because those first six years were what I personally needed. When I finally made the decision to use a biologic, I KNEW it would work. I embraced it fully and it has worked amazingly well. I have no regrets in using it.

Please don’t let family, friends, doctors, or even the RA community decide the path that is best for you. Take time to make the decisions that are fit with who you are. Because I listened to my heart, twelve years after my diagnosis, I feel optimistic. I don’t feel like my rheumatoid arthritis is the end of a happy life. My RA is one of the many components that have made me into who I am today.    

6 thoughts on “I Fought Using a Biologic For Years

  1. Cathy, I was almost instantly put on a biologic. So I had not such hesitation. However when it came to number 6, Rituxan, I hesitated for several weeks. For me it was terribly scary.

    During the delay I had to start using a cane, then one day I found myself in target in a motorized cart looking for batteries. I thought now how dumb is that? Here I cannot walk and I am afraid of what: not living?

    I was not living riding around in one of those dumb carts. I decided it was time to to take the risk It turned out to be a great decision.


  2. carlascorner

    I remember your struggle with this and almost the sense of surrender when you made the switch to the biologic. I contrast that with how much better your life is now. We can only know the path we choose, not the one left behind. I wonder if I've given up years of my life being on a biologic, but then I decide I'd rather have a higher quality of live than quantity. Thank you for helping empower others to seek their own paths for their own reasons.


  3. The side effects of not taking a biologic can be more terrifying than using one, right? I am usually a little slow in catching on, but for this, I am glad I was. For the last six years I have been very successful with my first and only biologic. I am glad you are out of that cart and out making a difference in this world Rick.


  4. I love this post, Cathy. I've always thought you did the right thing following your own heart as you treated your RD. Each of us lives with it alone, and we know our own bodies best. Your advice here is spot on–as always.

    Sending hugs! 🙂


  5. Thanks so much Wren. Along with Carla, I have always felt supported on my journey by you. Thank you so much for that. I remember you leaving comments on some of my worst days and feeling such comfort.


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