Rituxan

May 9, 2013

Living with progressive Multiple Sclerosis means your treatment options are limited. And not very appealing. After going through a year of Cytoxan treatments, and a baclofen pump implant I found myself on a plateau for several years. That is a good thing.

But, plateaus tend to be followed by hills and valleys. I find myself at that point, where the plateau begins to change its landscape. Well, it’s been three years in the making. Almost five years ago, really four and a half years ago I completed my course of Cytoxan. After two years, I began to slip again. I call it slipping because that best describes how my disease works. Symptoms slide from this to that, no plummeting occurs. It’s in those moments of slippage your fate is sealed. Unlike relapsing-remitting, there is NO remitting. I cannot think, well ok I am like this today, but maybe tomorrow I will feel better. When my symptoms get worse, they stay worse.

How do you stop slippage? That is a dance best choreographed by my neurologist. A steroid treatment here, a boost of symptom meds there, followed by the grand finale of a complete medicine change. The idea is to keep you dancing as long as they can. I do mean that quite literally. But life is a long haul, and with a limited amount of treatments each one a bit scarier than the last, the dance becomes a ballet and not a waltz.

What drug of choice is next? Wait…..wait….wait for it. There it is-Rituxan. Quite brilliant really. Yet like a genius, brilliance has its own dark side. Rituxan is an incredible drug. It basically destroys your B-cells. Yes, those same B-cells that help you fight infection, disease, etc. Yet it doesn’t destroy every B-cell, after all, you need some to keep from getting sick at the drop of a hat. So, it destroys the every B-cell between grandmother and grand child. By reducing the B-cells your body won’t fight and destroy itself. See, quite brilliant. I think I may know a few families that would like to disown itself of everyone between grandparent and grandchild. No! Only kidding.

But you do see the brilliance. Being able to target cells like that is awe-inspiring. Although, I can’t help but think what is next in genetic biopharmaceutical warfare…oops…I mean medicine.

Now to the nitty gritty-has it helped? Don’t know. Had only one treatment. The series of treatment goes like this:
1. First Treatment – 4-6 hour infusion
2. Wait two weeks
3. Repeat
Then every six months repeat steps 1-3.

Is it better than Cytoxan?
Considering the order of treatment my docs take, least severe to most severe, I’d say no. Immediate side effects: Much better
Overall effectiveness: Not enough data for me to answer.

The side effect issue is HUGE. I had the infusion, felt little to no effects and the next day nothing. No nausea, bone chillin pain, not much of anything. So far I am happy. If it works for a period of time I will be ecstatic.

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