Is My Medicine Working?
I’m not going to lie, this question haunts me much more often than it probably should. Is my medicine working? Is it time to try something different? Is there something better out there? What if I’ve tried everything and nothing works. What can I really expect in terms of “feeling better”? Like really better? Like my old me? Or just functionally better?
Is there even a right answer?
This is such a hard question, and one that I really don’t think that I am alone in wondering about nearly 24/7. It is right up there with the notorious, “How are you doing?” I know that I am lucky that my doctor places a lot of value on my opinion when it comes to her recommendations for medication. I really like that about her. She really listens when I tell her how I think I’ve been doing and makes her recommendations with a great deal of input from me. But sometimes, I really don’t know the answer to that dreaded question.
My medicine is working...or is it?
The problem is, with psoriatic arthritis, there often isn’t a lot of concrete information to go on. Many people (such as myself) don’t necessarily have blood work to go off of to know if a medicine is working. We often have several conditions that may make it difficult to know which particular symptom to attribute to which condition. Or if it is even part of a condition and not simply a side effect of the medications. All of these can make it so hard to answer that tough question, is my medicine working?
So what do I do?
The thing that I have found to be the most helpful is a simple monthly planner sheet posted on my refrigerator. I tried a planner in my purse and other random places, but let’s face it, I spend most of my time in front of the refrigerator. So that is step one. Find a simple planner page, either a week or a month at time.
Next, get one of those awesome clicker pens from the 80’s. You know the ones I’m talking about. They have 4 different color inks all in one pen. (I used to spend my entire math class trying to push all of them down at the same time, admit it, you did too.) That way, you won’t have to fuss with managing several different color pens. Assign a basic code for each color, feel free to get creative here...for example: black=death and so on.
Mark each day on the calendar for how you are feeling that day. If it is bad in the morning, but fine later that day, mark each. That way, you will be able to see a pattern. You will be able to see, in living color, the natural progression of each day.
I used to think to myself. Wow, this feels so bad, of course I will remember to mark this day in my planner. Or I thought, surely I will remember to tell the doctor about this symptom or the bad string of days that lead up to my next injection. But inevitably, I never do. I totally forget about everything as each day runs into the next.
Following this system allows me to see, at a simple glance, what my pattern of good and bad days look like so I can really assess if a medication is actually working well enough for me or not. Of course, it isn’t a perfect science, and there’s always room for interpretation, but at least it is a start. A place for me to find some concrete answers to my least favorite question, is my medicine working?
Do you regularly track your psoriatic arthritis symptoms?