Immunosuppressant Drug Therapy and Daily Living

A diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can come with a whole host of other complications beyond those of the disease itself. One of the most difficult to deal with is how your life suddenly changes if your doctor prescribes immunosuppressant medications. If you are like me, you become keenly aware of every possible form of contact with germs. Mere door handles can strike fear in my heart and simple sneezing has my pulse racing while I grab the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer and basically shower in the stuff.

Background on immunosuppressant drugs for PsA

Immunosuppressants are usually first in the line of defense against the damage that PsA can inflict on your joints. The most commonly prescribed ones include methotrexate, leflunomide, and cyclosporine. Each drug comes with its own side effects, but what they have in common is that their main goal is to suppress or block the activity of your immune system. While lowering your immune response is the desired purpose, having a low immune system brings its own challenges and complications.

Further complications

Obviously with a lower immune system, we are more susceptible to things like colds, bronchitis, strep throat, and all other infections a normal functioning immune system works to fight off. Even worse, our bodies are significantly more affected, by even the common cold, than those who do not have PsA. Our muscles are more achy and headaches throb like a freight train is tunneling ear to ear. Simple colds can quickly take over and before you know it, you are headed to the ER with a major, possibly life-threatening infection.

And yet, there’s more

As if that weren’t enough, many people with PsA are also on biologics such as Humira or Enbrel. So here’s the thing, you can’t take biologics if you are sick. This can throw off all of the carefully timed schedules of medicine. If you can’t take your medicine, then you feel like dirt. Not only that, if you go long enough without your medicine, then you could potentially develop antibodies and never be able to take that medicine safely again. Then you have to start all over trying to find a different medicine that may work for your PsA.

Sometimes you just have to laugh

While obviously, taking immunosuppressants itself is no laughing matter, I truly feel that in all this madness, you have to maintain a sense of humor. In fact, studies suggest that fostering a strong sense of humor when you have a chronic illness like PsA helps you cope and deal with the stress of everyday. To that end, here are some ways that I deal with being a teacher on immunosuppressant therapy and 5 things you do if you are on immunosuppressant drug therapy, too.

Five signs you must be on immunosuppressant drug therapy

  1. You buy hand sanitizer by the gallon at your local warehouse wholesaler. Yep, when you pretty much bathe in the stuff, it helps to save a few pennies per ounce. Oh, and don’t fall for buying a bunch of tiny ones more than once, buy the giant one and just refill the little ones.
  2. You contort your body like you are an Olympic finalist in the most intense game of Twister ever played-all to avoid touching a door handle, light switch, or handrail. Ohhhh, the dreaded door handle. I may barely be able to walk many days, but if I’m out and someone drops the door ahead of me, I can fly faster than Flash himself to wedge my foot in the door to keep from touching that handle.
  3. You develop super human eyesight. You can actually see the tiny germ droplets as they fly through the air from anyone sneezing, coughing, or even breathing heavily within a 10 foot radius. No joke people. Keep your germ-filled fluids to yourself. The speed at which snot will fly out of your nose when you sneeze will blow your mind.
  4. You don’t eat at a restaurant for months at a time, simply out of fear. Seriously. Food prep areas are a haven for little germy critters to sneak on your glass and then wham! Down for the count. All because you wanted a simple meal without having to cook.
  5. You avoid small children like the plague. You avoid them because really, they are like little, tiny, adorable germ infestation factories. As a teacher, I know first hand the kinds of super germs kids carry. These little people are amazing, but let’s face it, snot and saliva run rampant with those tiny little humans.

I truly hope that despite all the struggles you face living with PsA, that you can find at least a little humor to make your day a little brighter. Let’s face it, sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves because we’d cry our eyes out if we didn’t.

How do you find humor in your life? Do you find that it helps you see the brighter side a little better?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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