Well, I did it. I survived my first Remicade treatment. My doctors have been talking to me about Remicade for months, but my treatment kept getting postponed thanks to my frequent hospital visits. Yesterday, though, it finally came to fruition, and I have to say it turned out to be a pleasant experience. I went to a cancer center for the infusion, which certainly gave me some perspective. The staff was very friendly and accommodating; they offered snacks, drinks, movies, a blanket – anything to make me more comfortable. To be honest, it felt like a much-needed break. I sat in a heated massage chair and took a nap. A nap! As a parent, how many times do we get to take a nap? It felt like something I read about but never had the pleasure of experiencing.
Before I started the infusion, they took my vitals and weight. After I sat down in the comfy chair, the nurse gave me Tylenol, Benadryl, and a steroid to prevent adverse reactions to the treatment. They let the medication set in for 30 minutes; meanwhile the pharmacist came to talk to me. She explained how Remicade works: Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease, so this treatment will suppress my immune system to keep me in remission and prevent future flare ups. Just like any medication, there are risks. Because Remicade will suppress my immune system, I will be more susceptible to infection. I won’t be able to fight off something simple, like a cold as easily and it’s possible that at times it could develop into something more substantial, like bronchitis. This explains why I had to undergo a chest x-ray, blood work, a Hepatitis test, and a TB test to prove that I’m infection-free before I was permitted to start Remicade. The worst potential risk is the increased chance of Lymphoma, but the odds are still in my favor, so I’m not giving this a second thought.
Once we finished reviewing the side effects and risks and the medication had set in, the nurse started the infusion. The infusion ran for two hours and was timed so that the IV started off slow and then dispensed the medicine faster as time went on. I thought I would feel different during the treatment, but all I felt was tired and that was due to the Benadryl, not the infusion. Some people report that their joints feel achy the next day, but I didn’t experience that. The next day I still felt like me. I worked all day, played with my kids, did laundry – you’d never know I spent half a day in a cancer center, getting “infused”.
My next two infusions are scheduled for 2 and 6 weeks after the first. After that, I’ll go every 8 weeks. It’s a commitment, but it’s worth it. This treatment gives me hope and opportunity. I went 13 years before I experienced any complications; who says I can’t go 13 more? I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live without fear of getting sick each day, and it’s my hope that since my girls are young, they’ll never remember “sick Mommy” and they’ll never have to experience her again.