Sunday, July 31, 2011

6-MP Mercaptopurine Side Effects

Another med I've had experience with prior to starting on Humira:


Trade names: Purinethol®
Other names: 6-Mercaptopurine, 6-MP
Drug type: Mercaptopurine is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug.  This medication is classified as an "antimetabolite." 
I had a lot of trouble with 6-MP as it made me so dizzy, and so nauseas that I couldn't handle it at all. I gave it a good shot for two weeks but the nausea would not go away so I subsequently stopped.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Meds Cost $1000 Per Day!

Yep, you heard that right! Each Humira injection costs about $1000 per day. The good news however is that most insurance will cover biologic medicine and for me that means that I pay only $56 per month for my Humira!

Abbott Labs, the manufacturer of Humira also has an assistance program for those without insurance and it can cover the price in full. Check with Abbott at for more information on this excellant program.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Humira Side Effect

I've been on Humira for nearly two years with no problems at all, but recently I've noticed joint pain in my fingers. I'm really not sure if this is related so I'm curious if anyone else has has similar issues. Maybe I'm just getting older, but it came on pretty suddenly and has not abated.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crohn's Experience: The Good!

Although it sounds strange, even though this disease has permeated my life with medical problems, pain, and the embarrassment of having to constantly run to the toilet (one of the wonderful symptoms of Crohns Disease), it has also shaped me and molded me into what I consider an incredibly strong individual. I can honestly say that I know I can get through any amount of suffering with the knowledge that the bad is ALWAYS followed by GOOD, and that I have never let this disease become my identity. It is simply something that I deal with, and I rejoice in the times that I am symptom free. I have never let it control my life and I have lived my life as a husband and father of two, I have travelled the world, had a successful career, and have always kept humor and a positive attitude through it all. I have helped council other Crohns patients and have served on the local CCFA (Crohns Colitis Foundation Of America) board of directors. I honestly believe that my experiences have had a positive impact on my life, and on those I have come in contact with. It is absolutely true to state that "that that does not kill us makes us stronger" and coupled with the knowledge that "this too shall pass", suffering can actually be turned into a positive individual growth experience!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Medications: A History

Currently, the only medication I take are Humira injections from Abbott Labs.
Humira comes in self-injectable "pens", and I inject myself once every other week. It is an immunosuppresant biologic drug which is amazingly effective in keeping Crohn's at bay. It does have many possible side effects, some serious, and needs to be monitored regularly by a physician. I usually inject in my upper thigh and using an ice pack in advance helps with the pain quite a bit. I've been using Humira for nearly two years now, and my Crohn's has remained in remission the entire time. The only side effect I've noticed is occasional joint pain in my fingers, and I'm not certain if this is from the Humira or just getting older.

My Crohn's Experience: From Sulfa to Humira

My Crohns History:

  • 1972: After a wonderful trip to Yucatan, Mexico I came home with severe abdominal pain, diareah, low grade fever that simply would not go away. I spent many afternoons doubled-over in pain.
  • 1972: After several tests by my doctor, I was referred to a Gasrtoenterologist who after doing more tests diagnosed my problem as Crohn's Disease. I had never heard of this before but it soon became central to my life.
  • 1972-1978: Tried the typical medications of the time such as azulfidine, prednisone, asacol which helped somewhat, but I can't remember ever having a totally pain free day. I remember at the age of 16 pulling over to the side of the road to let the pain subside and praying for "just one pain free day in my life".
  • 1979: First intestinal resection
  • 1981: Crohn's has remained in remission since the first surgery, but now my gall bladder has problems.
  • 1982: Gall Bladder removed
  • 1983-1988: Periods of remission broken up by active disease and hospitalizations nearly every 3-4 months due to intestinal obstruction caused by Crohns and scar tissue.
  • 1989: Second intestinal resection
  • 1990-1999: More periods of remission broken up by hospitalizations due to increasingly worse obstructions.
  • 2000: Severe pain and obvious obstruction. Intestine bursts while I am on a business trip and the sepsis nearly proves fatal. Long stay in the ICU and the hospital before returning home to recuperate. This was my third intestinal resection and probably the worst time of my life. While in the ER my heart effectively stopped working and required two periods of CPR to bring back a normal heart rhythm. 
  • 2001-2010: Crohn's Disease stays predominantly in remission with only a couple of hospitalizations due to obstruction. I no longer have enough intestine left to sustain proper digestion should the disease come out of remission. Since the pattern for me has been surgery followed by 10 years remission, the doctor recommends that I start on the new biologic medicine from Abbott Labs called Humira.
  • 2010-Present: Humira has been effective and I have had almost no incidents of Crohn's Disease flareups for the past two years. I take a Humira injection every other week.
And that's a brief history. I intend to post details and experiences randomly in my posts on this blog and I welcome questions and discussions regarding anything Crohn's related.

Thanks for reading!

My Crohn's Experience: Introduction

My Crohn's experience started when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at the age of 15, during a time when very little was known about this debilitating illness, and drug treatment options were few. In this blog I would like to recount my nearly 40 years of experiences with this illness; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and discuss current medications available to treat Crohn's Disease, such as Humira, Remicade, 6-MP, Prednisone, and others.

Crohn's Disease is classified as an inflammatory illness which is caused by the body's immune system attacking healthy cells in the intestinal tract, which can lead to intestinal blockage, rupture, sepsis and death if left untreated.

I have had three intestinal resections due to Crohn's Disease and the last nearly cost me my life. I say this not to be dramatic, but to raise awareness that ignoring symptoms can lead to serious consequences. In 1999, I had what I knew was a serious flareup, but instead of checking into the hospital for treatment, I tried to ignore my symptoms. I ended up in the ER with a 105 degree fever, semi-conscious from septic shock, with a heartbeat in lethal arrhythmia and requiring CPR. My intestine had broken open and the septic shock had set in. I spent four days in the ICU after having major surgery to repair my intestine, followed by IV medicines to fight infection. The doctors did not expect me to survive the night, but somehow I did, and I share all of this in order to tell you that if you suspect something is wrong, and you have a high fever and severe abdominal pain, RUN, do not walk, to your local ER. Call 911 if necessary, but definitely do not take chances. Get to a hospital pronto!