Methotrexate Daze

March 21, 2007 at 5:32 pm (Uncategorized)



heads12.gifI know I haven’t written in a while. I also haven’t done a lot of other things, like work, walk, cook a meal, or be awake for more than three hours at a stretch. I’ve had a headache that felt like someone buried a battle ax in my skull, along with nausea, full body aches, frequent trips to the bathroom, and an overwhelming desire to lay perfectly still and move as little as possible. It’s methotrexate days!


Treating autoimmune diseases like sarcoidosis is a funny business. True, there are some folks who believe that an underlying infection is the cause of the disease, but most conventional theories and treatments see the body’s own immune system as the problem. For now, I’m following the old school approach for treating my disease, which relies heavily on curtailing my supposedly overactive immune system. After prednisone (a corticosteroid that acts both as a massive anti-inflammatory and an immune suppressant) failed to control the sarcoidosis, my doctors switched me to a new combination of more powerful immune suppressants – methotrexate and Enbrel.


Methotrexate is a cytoxin – literally “cell killer” – which is also used as a chemotherapy agent. Of course, I take a much lower dose than a cancer patient, but it still wreaks havoc on me. I seem to have gotten every possible side effect – headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, and tiredness. I take my weekly dose on Monday, which in the five short weeks I’ve been on this new regimen, has become a dreaded day. Sometimes, I feel better by Tuesday, but during other weeks, the side effects are more severe and linger for days. This is one of those weeks when I’m only just feeling somewhat human just in time for the next Monday and the next dose of methotrexate.


I sometimes wish the process of taking methotrexate was more difficult. I know that sounds odd, but I would find it easier if I had to inject the methotrexate, like I do the Enbrel, or even go to the hospital to have it infused, as I would if I were taking Remicaid. Somehow, this would make the multitude of unpleasant side effects feel more logical and more expected. But instead, I simply swallow small, oblong, pale yellow pills. They are at worst bland looking, and, truth be told, they are almost pretty in a way reminiscent of Easter eggs.


Because of the treatment path I have chosen to follow, I need to take the methotrexate. I want to stay the course, to see if I can knock the sarcoidosis out of my heart, lungs, and joints for good. I have realized that I have two ways to approach my Mondays: with dread or with hope. My instinct is to dread the ticking of the clock bringing me closer to Monday and my pills of doom. I suppose this is human nature at its animal core. We avoid pain; no mouse in any science experiment goes gleefully towards an electric shock. But this week’s methotrexate regimen was a debacle. The migraine I got after taking my pale yellow pills became so awful that I eventually disobeyed the doctors and took a migraine medication – even though that could have caused a heart attack because of all my cardiac problems. I lay motionless in bed, resenting every minute of drug-induced suffering, which has only left me feeling grouchy and violated. So, I am contemplating a new approach -one suggested by Barb, my massage healer, who has much wisdom and experience dealing with illness. What if I sought to see the methotrexate as a healing force in my body? This doesn’t mean that it won’t be any less unpleasant physically, but maybe the psychic toll of being beaten by my treatment would be easier. Instead of resenting the side effects, I could try to see every wave of nausea and every ripple of pain in my head as signs that these pills are enabling my body to heal itself. In other words, the discomfort means they are working.


I am not, by nature, a positive thinker or a successful visualizer. In fact, I’ve often discredited that stuff as New Age hooey. But after three years of chronic and debilitating sarcoidosis, I am willing to try to change my nature. After all, I have intellectually rationalized ingesting a poison, so I should also be able to come to terms emotionally with the poison’s work in my body. Besides, it’s not like I can do much else besides think on a Monday. I might as well make those thoughts a little hopeful.


  1. Paul said,

    Hang in there Rebecca

    I did Metotrexate for 12 months and I guess I was lucky – I didn’t have anything to speak of in terms of side effects and it did stop my cough but did little else for my other symptoms. But I guess thats sarcoid for you , affecting everyone differently.

    In the end I stopped it as it was a chemical I didn’t want to keep taking.

    One of the hardest parts is to try and deal with the emotional side of things – particularly when it comes to meds.


  2. Nancy said,

    Keep going girl – I am so sorry that this is tearing up ALL of you – try the new mindset and keep at it. More goodness and care your way – N

  3. Barbara (Baabs) said,

    Baabs here again. I did metho for 2 yrs. and predn. for awhile with no change in my condition. Did not have side effects. I do believe in visual “new age hooey”. If we’re subconciously absorbing the negative info. bombaring us daily we need to take some time to protect our inner being. I know you hear this from every angle so kick me out. —@>am scram!

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