The Arthritis Newsletter

Summer 2014

I Love/Hate My Meds: A Personal Reflection

By Sharan Rai


Sharan Rai and Dr. Mary De Vera


May cause liver damage. Or bladder cancer. Maybe some eye problems. Some hot flashes? May increase your risk of developing lymphoma. And definitely do not take while pregnant.


…May cause you to eat four McDonald’s crispy chicken snack wraps and wonder why you didn’t order a fifth.


I’m looking at you, prednisone.

I know pharmaceutical companies are required to list the scary stuff, and I generally avoid thinking about it (because really, what good does that do?), but sometimes those thoughts linger in the back of my mind.


Am I going to have good results at next year’s ophthalmology appointment? What if I develop vision problems and I have to switch to a different therapy? Would it be as effective? Would the pain come back? Could I stay in school?


And what if I’m that statistic who develops some type of cancer? I’m 24 years old! Would I be a survivor? Would I be able to finish school?


Am I fighting fire with fire?


Some days, those are the thoughts that race through my mind.


But then, I think about life before I had an effective treatment plan. I was in agonizing pain. I had extensive neurological symptoms. I couldn’t function physically or mentally, and my grades trended toward the second half of the alphabet. I was barely a person.


And now? I’m in graduate school working with people I love. I’m an A+ student with multiple scholarships. I even have publications under review, and I’m only halfway into the first year of my program. None of this would have been possible without taking my medication.


We all have a love-hate relationship with our prescriptions. I never thought I would be faced with these sorts of decisions in my early twenties, but it’s a price I pay to function with a chronic disease.


At the end of the day, we can’t control everything. Life happens, and we have to take it as it comes. So I focused on what was within my control – I made an informed decision with my rheumatologist, consulted my pharmacist on several occasions, and get regular blood work done to make sure everything is in check.


And then I focus on living my life. Because there was once a time when I couldn’t – and now I can.

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