Monday, July 11, 2011

I did it. . .

I took the shingles vaccine.

Not a big deal for most people, but a big deal for me because it is a live virus. It is generally not given to people with suppressed immune systems. It can cause big problems--a bad case of shingles or chicken pox, even bad enough for hospitalization. And no guarantees of immunity.

In the weeks leading up to the vaccine, I vaccilated. I researched. I prayed. I talked to my p.a. and my rheumotologist, who did not make me feel any better and reminded me once again, in different ways, that I do not live in  a perfect world and sometimes there are just not good answers--at which point I wanted to cry and point out that I'd noticed that at some point in the last few years.

But I didn't. I decided that if I had to do it I was going to have as much grace and patience as I could muster. My husband, however, was a nervous wreck. He sweetly did the worrying for me, bless his heart.

It has mostly gone well. Not perfect, though, as this is not a perfect world--as my doctors love to tell me. The evening after the shot I started itching all over, my eyes, ears, scalp, arms, legs, everywhere! Some kind reaction, either to the virus or to something in the shot but there's no way of knowing. Nearly 3 weeks later, the itching is still coming and going--benedryl to the rescue.

For over a week after the shot I felt wonderful! Really, I felt better than I had in months--my RA seemed to go into hiding. Could my body have been forming antibodies to the shingles virus and leaving my joints alone? I got up from my chair and cooked and played and acted like a normal, though weak, person. It felt soooo good!

The virus hit slowly--the leaden legs and stomach upset, and then the zing of  nerves firing on my stomach. Oh yes. I did end up getting shingles. Fairly mildly, but with the same deadening exhaustion that always comes. I tried to push through and ended up missing a weekend trip with my sweet, patient husband. I slept for most of three days instead.

So we shall see. Am I immune to shingles now? I have my next Orencia infusion next week. The first I've had in 3 months. I am doing remarkebly well pain-wise to only be taking plaquenil and 5mg prednisone. I am tempted to just stay put, but fear I will regret it. I was in a terrible flare just a few months ago. I will restart my methotrexate about the same time.

Any thoughts out there? What would you do? Take the Orencia? I would really like some time without a bout of shingles or an RA flare to regain some strength. I am pudding right now and my house is a mess.  Either way, it's not a perfect world, right?

The Lady in Pred

photo courtesy of m_bartosch /

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