For two weeks now I have injected myself with Enbrel (Etyanercept), which is miracle of modern science. It is a bioengineered recombinant fusion protein that acts as a Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitor.
In English, it is a brand new protein formed from bits of 2 others that plugs the inflammation pathway. It is a ‘living’ thing which hibernates in my fridge until I’m ready to eagerly awaken it on Thursday evenings, warming it in my armpit even as I cool the injection site and say my prayer to empower it to work its magic in my immune system. I think of them as little ninja organisms that are my proxy scab bouncers in my joints, keeping the drunk union bouncers from entering the club and causing mayhem..
Of all the medications I have taken over 17 years, this is the first to have noticeable, remarkable, consistent results. Within 8 hours (!!!!) I can feel the constant swelling gone, the yellow syrup of rheum in my blood somehow evaporated, and years drop off my shoulders. I cavort and dance and spontaneously burst into song. My Spring garden awakens and together we come to life, unfurling shoots into the sunlight.
In the shadows lurks a fear, the fear of a lifer convict at returning to the outside world or a muzzled circus bear being set free. The fear of creeping out from under a diagnosis into the bright light of a dazzling array of possible futures. I have been cowed by this thing…the years of body betrayal and unpredictable pain, the countless random affliction of joints and limbs have habituated me to the leash of my illness. How now to re-embrace all that I could be? How to make peace with all the lost years and opportunities and nights of sleep?
Even as I type this my immune system is working frantically to reject my saviours, working in its usual overdrive to create antibodies to smother my relief, because my joints! They are invading!!
As well as I feel, I still need your hand to hold because this is scary in its own way.