Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dosing up

So, last night I took my first full dose of Rebif, the drug of my neurologist's choice to assist with minimising the progression of my MS. Rebif is one of a class of beta interferons - proteins that are produced by our bodies to kickstart our immune system responses. I have to inject it three times a week using a very groovy automated device that makes robot noises and lives in my fridge between shots. The side effects of this medication, which are experienced by the majority of its users, include flu symptoms, needle site infections and necrosis. Hey, it could be a lot worse. One of the medications my neuro suggested I consider has a higher success rate than Rebif, but can also result in a fried brain. Hmmm, I passed on that one. Anyway, so far, it seems I am in the small category of lucky folk who don't experience significant side effects. Apart from the odd lump and bump, it's been smooth sailing thus far. But, is it doing me any good? Who knows.

This is my first foray into taking serious medicine on a sustained basis. The jury is out for me on whether this will be a lifelong commitment. I don't really mind the injections (although, travelling with a virtual fridge by my side is going to be a bitch), but I'm not yet convinced that the available medical responses are quite the ticket for a life free of MS symptoms. Anyhoo, more on that another time. What has creeped me out about this whole experience is the pervasiveness of the drug industry the minute I was confronted with intervention choices. My neurologist told me about the available drugs but strongly recommended this one. He's the expert, right? So, I went with that. Soon after, the 'community nurse' dropped round for a visit. She is employed by the drug agency. She was very nice and she told me her job was to help me get used to taking the drugs. Nanoseconds later (and I'm not sure if this was a freudian slip or just a boutof honesty), she told me her main job is to make me stay on the drug. Durr! What I found more alarming than this was that my neuro and the nurse could have been reading from the same script in terms of how they described the drug, the side effects and the benefits. It made me wonder, just who does this doctor work for?! Anyway, paranoid responses aside, this is a whole new world and one I'm not sure I like at all.

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