I was bruised, broken, and in pain.
I had been struggling with Rebif (interferon beta-1a) side effects for over a year, ever since my diagnosis. It was the first multiple sclerosis medication doctors put me on, and it did not work for me. Painfully thin, I was told to avoid injecting specific sites, leaving me with only four “nonpainful” places. These places quickly got bruised, swollen, and sore, yet I had to inject them repeatedly. (Read more about my experiences with Rebif here.)
Most people probably would have stopped a medication that causes so much pain and distress, but I have an annoying discipline trait that makes me carry on with things even when they get tough. In my stubbornness, I carried on, pushed through. I’d lie awake at night and eventually wake up in the morning feeling terrified. I couldn’t eat because my anxiety got out of control. I lost interest in everything I used to enjoy. It was a vicious cycle and I became deeply depressed.
Every day, I woke up praying I’d get the call from my nurse to tell me I was ready to transition to Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), an oral formulation medication. My hospital was trialing the medication back then and putting people on it in batches. Month after month, I waited while begging my nurse to put me on something else.
Her response was to wait, to be patient, to keep going.
It was Dec. 8, 2014, and I’d been hanging on for months, waiting to switch medications.
One Monday, I counted down the minutes until I could leave work and start my two-hour commute home. As I anticipated the pain of my injection that evening, my phone rang.
To my delight, it was the hospital, saying Tecfidera was ready for me to pick up before 5 p.m. I put down the phone and burst into tears. My boss, witnessing my call (and my tears), released me early so I could collect the medicine.
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