I took one for the Gipper...I did my part (for now)...I allowed myself to be poked, prodded, tested, gawked at, and at times, left feeling ill all in the name of science.
I'm talking, of course, about the Rituximab/Rituxin Research Study I participated in this past year (you were wondering there for a brief second, weren't you?!?). Today was my official LAST appointment with the research peeps at my X-neurologist's clinic. Apparently, whatever I got IV (I won't be told for certain if I received Rituxin for another year possibly) DIDN'T kill me, so everyone thought it was a great success!
You may recall from previous posts that I began this study in the fall last year after making the decision to stop AVONEX, which I felt nearly WAS killing me. Two IV's of "whatever" right before Christmas and then NOTHING for a year was quite appealing to me...and it WAS all in the name of science (OK, and a bit selfish on my part because I was sick of injections making me sick!).
Unfortunately, "whatever" I got in those two mystery bags last year did NOT slow or improve my MS. As a matter of fact, about the time I started writing this blog in March, 2006, I was in the throws of yet another relapse and feeling pretty darned crappy...my MRI's began showing an "aggressive" disease process as well. I switched my drink to IV steroids and spent 3-4 months feeling no better and actually feeling MUCH worse.
It was in July of this year that Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named and I decided on giving TYSABRI a whirl to see if we couldn't get my brain to stop popping lesions...I haven't had another MRI since June, 2006, but I CAN report I am feeling much improved from this spring and summer. Whether this is fat chance luck and time or TYSABRI, we may never know...I suppose it's really not all that important as long as I'm feeling "better".
So, today I said good-bye to my handlers at that "other" clinic and prepared myself for the loneliness of having only ONE neurologist! LOL My appointment could not pass by however, without the usual testing being done...I walked for them, I ran for them, I put the little pegs in the holes, I did the math test, I read the eye chart, I hopped on one leg, I touched my nose gracefully, I balanced heel-to-toe, I smiled with symmetry, I peed in the cup (and also on my hand...gotta work on THAT one still!), I allowed a half pint of blood to be suctioned out of my arm, AND...I told them thank you.
I told them "thank you" because I feel so fortunate there are people out there interested in finding hope for this disease called Multiple Sclerosis. I told them "thank you" because, even though I know the Mega Mafia Pharma Company is PAYING for all the testing (because they REALLY, REALLY want to SELL this drug eventually...I'm not that stupid!), they still treated me with respect and dignity. And I silently told Spirit "thank you" that I remain healthy enough to be ABLE to participate in such a study...that I AM relatively well, I CAN walk, I CAN still compute math in my head, I CAN still operate most all the organs in my body, and I CAN remain independent at this time.
If this drug and this study prove to be useful to someone else (even if it did not seem to benefit me), then I feel I've done my part...it's the least I can do for all those yet to be diagnosed with MS...it's the least I can do while I am still blessed with good health.