The 7th time’s Prince Charming??

I recently started my seventh biologic drug.  7th…. S-E-V-E-N-T-H.  I believe there are only 10 biologic drugs (don’t quote me on that).  But I fear I am running out of options.  What is a biologic drug? I’ll let WebMD explain: “Biologics are genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes. They are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling inflammation, which is a central feature of rheumatoid arthritis.” These drugs are quite expensive ranging from $1,000-18,000 per month.  Biologic drugs on tiers 1 and 2 did not work well for me.  I never saw any significant relief of symptoms on those drugs.  They did help to reduce some pain, but it was clear my symptoms progressed.  Tier 3 drugs did provide me with more relief but one threw me into anaphylactic shock.  Another was a mini miracle for about 2 years but the swelling was always still significant in most of my joints and I often needed steroids to get me over flares.  Then I transitioned to a ridiculously expensive drug and I did feel really good for a while, but again, the swelling was CRAZY.  Steroids to the rescue once again.

I went to Capitol Hill with the American College of Rheumatology last month (I will post that blog ASAP).  The day after I returned, I had a rheumatology appointment.  My joints were on fire.  Red, swollen, and I was really hurting (walking all over Capitol Hill is exhausting when you aren’t battling RA).  Although I did feel somewhat better some of the time on this drug, the swelling remained a significant issue.  Hands so swollen during the day but I had to type up reports and input data while at work. Basically, my job made it more difficult for me to dress myself and shower….and forget about my hair.  I’m was rocking a ponytail almost daily.  I knew the drug wasn’t meeting all my needs, but changing medications is such an emotional thing for me.  Let me explain why….

I know that I didn’t “fail” the drugs.  I know that the drugs failed me, but I still feel so disappointed.  I try not to hang to much hope on new medications because I know there is no cure, but I always hold out hope that this drug will “do the trick” (honestly, a trick for me at this point is buttoning up a blouse in the morning!  LOL).  Ok, it’s actually pretty sad, not funny, but if I don’t laugh, I’d cry.  My goal isn’t that I can run a marathon or climb Mt. Everest.  My goal of feeling better means I can work, clean my home, do laundry, grocery shop, and generally be a functional person.  It just seems like I am always disappointed and even though I know it is not my fault, I still feel like a failure.

I started my new drug with a lot of doubt and trepidation.  I know people who take this drug and see good results, but I fear having any hope only to be let down again.  After about 2 weeks, I was walking down a LONG hallway at work.  I suddenly realized that I wasn’t in pain in the normal places.  Don’t get me wrong, my legs were fatigued from the long hallway (probably b/c I’m so out of shape from the chronic sore joints), but my ankles weren’t screaming.  My knees didn’t ache and my hip didn’t twinge as I walked.  SHOCKING and SURREAL.  I’ve had some really good days.  So much so that I may have over done it.  Yesterday, I attended a football game right after work.  I was helping with the cheerleaders, so I stood on the track for about an hour after work.  I did sit for a bit, and I felt fine, but I was on my feet most of the day.  After the game, I helped carry pom poms back to the building.  I felt pain while carrying them, but ignored it.  I got home and noticed that my knuckle resembled Jabba the HutIMG_5163-1 and my ankles were mildly swollen.  The worst part was the fatigue in my legs.  It bordered on painful, especially when I climbed the stairs at night.  All these questions rumble through my brain.  Is the drug not working?  Did I do too much because I was finally feeling good?  Who knows.  I certainly don’t.  I enjoy working with the cheerleaders, so if feeling pain later is the cost, I have to be okay with it.

Surprisingly, I woke up with relative ease today.  I only got stuck with my back for about 10 minutes until I was able to stand (it normally takes about 45 minutes-1 hour).  Walking down the steps was painful, but things got better as the day went on.  So the downside of still getting flares of pain and swelling post activity seems to be balanced by the upside of not suffering horribly the following day.  I guess that is a checkmark in the plus column.

My 7th biologic drug may not be my knight in shining armor, saving me from my evil RA after all,  but it’s not a bad first date.  I’m going to try to remain optimistic and appreciate the pain free moments as they come.  I’ll deal with the flares and pain like always and keep on keeping on.

Review: Invigorate Lotion

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I’ve been dying to try a topical pain relieving lotion.  I was thrilled when asked to review Resonant Botanicals lotion Invigorate.  Now I’ve been tempted by many a snake oil salesman before, so I wanted to take this review very seriously.  Invigorate is pricey, retailing between $20 for 2 oz., and $55 for the 8 oz. bottle.  Upon investigating their website, I found that the company offers a “pay it forward” option.  I’ll let their words on their website explain the system:

“How our Pay It Forward program works:

1.  Customers and Friends may contribute to the program through a donation which will be applied to the cost of an Invigorate or Qi of Calm™ two ounce lotion to help us reach those in need.  Resonant Botanicals will cover the shipping and handling costs and provide our product at wholesale cost.

If you are in need, send your mailing address along with your product preference. Once the Program is funded, we will ship it to you at no cost.

2.  Resonant Botanical Customers who have been liberated from prescription opioids through the use of our products can share a two ounce bottle with a friend in need.  Simply leave us feedback and share your success story. Then enter your original order number and we will send them a two ounce lotion.”  (

Pretty cool, right?!  This pay it forward program sets this company apart in my opinion.  They believe in their product and want people to get it.  I think that is great!

Now, the big question.  Is this product worth it?  Let me tell you about it….

First impression:  Ok.  First impressions are important.  I opened the product and immediately squirted two pumps into my hand.  I liked that the lotion was not greasy.  It was smooth and dried relatively quickly.  Then I smelled it.  It’s not an unpleasant smell, rather it was familiar and I just could not place it. (It drove me nuts!)  I could only describe it as a pleasant-yet-mildly-medicinal smell.  After a few minutes; however, the smell settled to something  light and pleasant.  I just could not place the first impression scent.  I took the product to a friends house and had them try it.  The consensus was it smelled like the old 1970’s and 80’s skin care product Noxema.  Yep!!  That was it, a woodier-citrus scent but somewhat similar!  I should mention, my friends all liked the scent a lot.

Does the lotion work?  Again, I’m always a skeptical reviewer.  I’ve been scammed by so many products in the past that I took this review very seriously.  When I first began using the lotion, my elbows and my feet were really bugging me.  I wasn’t able to sleep one night, so I got up and got the lotion.  Within about 5-10 minutes, the throbbing of the pain subsided.  I began moving my elbow and the pain returned.  So I learned that topically, the lotion did make a difference in numbing the painful joints….which in turn, helped me find comfort enough to sleep, BUT it does not prevent pain in motion.  I should note, that I did not go the the company website prior to using the lotion.  I didn’t want a preconceived notions to ruin my review (I had read a basic bio).  After using the lotion,  I went to the website and read that the product was developed for the inventor’s mother so she could sleep at night.  Well, they did a good job with that!!  The funny thing is that with a name like “Invigorate”, I expected that this product would rev me up, instead once that initial scent settles, it’s actually quite relaxing and calming.  Now it sits by my bedside for nightly use.

What is in the lotion?  Again, I’ll quote from their website, so I don’t mess it up.

“Invigorate starts with an infusion of herbs such as turmeric, valerian, devil’s claw, Manjistha and Arjuna and those are steeped in organic Grape Seed Oil for over six weeks.  Then, the infused herb oil is added to organic Hemp Oil, Hemp Oil Extract, Apricot Kernel Oil, Jojoba Oil, Clove Oil Extract, and Borage Oil, essential oils such as Sandalwood and Rose Otto from the Kazanlak region of Bulgaria, and combined (emulsified) into a truly delightful pain relieving lotion.”   It also has “Bottom notes of Frankincense and Sandalwood allow Lavender, Bergamot, Bulgarian Rose and Orange to dance playfully on top and usher you into preparation for what you are about to experience once you apply Invigorate to a painful area:  relief.”  (

You can tell the essential oils are of a good quality because of the lasting effect and scent. They are also quick to absorb into the skin, which is a huge plus!  When you apply the lotion on your skin there is no burning or heating sensation.  You are impacted more by the relaxing scent, especially when it is combined with heat.

The product also uses MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane), which many of us who live in chronic pain, are familiar with.  I usually take MSM combined with Calcium daily.  I never heard of it in a topical, so I was intrigued.  The site recommends using heat with the lotion, and I have to admit, that is an awesome combination.  You can really smell the essential oils when the products heats.  It’s relaxing.  I used this product on my feet, elbows, back, and knees.  One day in particular, the throbbing of my foot was extreme.  Invigorate really did help when I needed some relief.  I feel like it is a good tool to have in my arsenal.


Quick absorption, non-greasy, pleasant light scent (after a few minutes) and does what it says, provides some relief to pain.  The “Pay it forward” program is awesome.


Cost, although justifiable with all the quality products like essential oils, can be pricey for someone on a fixed income, but this can be offset by Pay it Forward.  The initial scent is truly invigorating, but it is strong (at first), but it is way better than over the counter products that have an extreme menthol scent.

So do recommend Invigorate lotion?  Yes, I do!  If you are looking for a topical pain relieving product that can help to take the edge off pain, try this product.  I’m glad to have this as a tool for pain relief.  You can find their website here: