Going Through a 'Break-Up' Every Time New Medication Doesn't Work


Tonight I lie in bed feeling betrayed for the fourth time in the past two years. I am not necessarily great at relationships, but I am even worse at break-ups. Yet here I am again…lying awake in bed, replaying our whole relationship in my mind. What happened? Things were going so well. Was it me? Could I have done something different to make sure this last one was “The One?” We were getting along so well at first. I was beginning to feel strong and secure about myself again. Yet here we are…again. The fourth medication with which I have been forced to break up in the last two years.

You see, when you have rheumatoid arthritis, you are forced to get into these very committed relationships with some of the meds out there. And when they fail to work, it is as if you were breaking up with who you hoped would be “The One” – that evasive remission drug that could change your entire life and make you really “live” again. But sometimes finding it is harder than finding your soulmate. As if it were a game of matchmaking, doctors parade this list of “suitors” in front of you, admitting that it’s a hit-or-miss game. Your choices are not limitless, as doctors are very clear that there’s only a few available for your condition. Just as in real life, you cringe as you hear some of the warnings that each of them carry, and secretly wonder if it’s maybe best to just stay single instead. But your 15 minutes with the doctor are almost up, so you need to make a quick decision before he/she leaves. Hopeful that this next one will work, you choose the one that seems to have “the most potential.”

I have been on this revolving door of medications four times now. The last two were not that sad to break up with, as the good times did not outweigh the bad times. I was looking forward to moving onto the next one. But this last dalliance and subsequent break-up was extremely rough.

First of all, the break-up was not mutual. Not this one. I fiercely tried to hang on to it. For the first time in years, I was feeling better. It was working. Pain was manageable. Fatigue was minimal. It was working. I was so attached to the possibilities that I chose to ignore the warning signs. So what if I had frequent nausea and vomiting? That’s a small price to pay for being able to take the dogs out for a walk. I found myself making many excuses to cover its flaws. Yes, the stomach pain and acid reflux can be debilitating at times, but if I could just concentrate on the fact that I worked eight hours and cooked that night, those were normal relationship problems. Besides, no relationship is perfect. I even repeated these excuses to my rheumatologist, who without hesitation said, “No more. Those can lead to even more harmful conditions. It can rupture your intestines. It is done.” My heart sank. He didn’t allow any room for bargaining. No excuses were good enough, and just like that…it was over.

And so, here we are again – at the cusp of another emerging relationship that I wasn’t ready to take on. Although, if I am being completely honest, just like in real life, it is getting harder and harder to stay positive and not judge this one based on the flaws of the last one. I am suddenly very aware that with every break-up, my possibilities of finding “The One” – that allusive remission drug – decrease. After all, I am painfully aware that when it comes to specialty medications, there are not plenty of fish in the sea left for me to pick from.

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Thinkstock photo via grinvalds.

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