Dose 2: After trying a few different biologics in my early 20s, I swore I wouldn’t allow these medications into my body again because of the side effects that I experienced and unknown long term effects it would have on me, namely my ability to have children. While having a child is still not something that is at the forefront of my life plan, I was scared that when ‘that’ time comes (whenever that is), the option won’t be there. However, I also greatly fear any surgery related to Crohn’s Disease. I am sorry for any of you that have had to go through that, I respect you more than you will ever know. So I have decided to give Entyvio my best effort and a real shot at helping me get back into remission.
I was a little nervous after the first round because I actually thought it would go a bit smoother than it did, but, the first dose is always difficult. If you aren’t familiar with biologics, they are generally administered for those patients with moderate to severe active Crohn’s Disease, (among other autoimmune conditions), in order to target or block either certain cells that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. They are administered either through a shot or through an IV treatment. The risk factor with these treatments mainly circulates around their ability to lower your immune system, which in turn lowers your ability to fight infection. From what I understand, and I am obviously not a doctor, these drugs are working to respond appropriately to those cells in the tum or are fighting to keep certain ones from leaving the one area of the body and migrating to the GI tract. This impacts your body’s capability to address other possible toxins or foreign bacteria because there are less men available to fight on the front lines.
Entyvio is a biologic, but is slightly different from the ones I have taken before and is the first one to be developed specifically for Colitis and Crohn’s. A number of side effects result from this, including: itching, headache, nausea, joint pain, and fatigue – most of which I experienced again. I mentioned this to the nurses at the infusion center I receive treatment at and they said that the administration of the medicine can be changed so that I won’t feel as nauseated. I had previously had a similar issue when receiving blood transfusions; the blood was pumping in too fast and I had an allergic reaction to it and they slowed it. It felt like pens were being pushed through my veins instead of liquid and my body’s response was rejection and immediate nausea.
Once the administration was slowed, everything became much more tolerable. While side effects are not ‘highly reported’, I did find some research that outlined which genders and age groups experienced what side effects more often. I was interested to find out females between 20-29 years old experienced nausea, headache and fatigue at a higher rate than men in general and other age groups of women. (Women ages 40-49 had a comparable rate of similar side effects.) It justified my stance at the time, but I still think there is more robust research out there that I have not yet tapped into.
Within the next week, I started to notice a change in my GI tract, which has given me a lot of hope for the future. I was told not to expect any results until my 4th or 5th treatment, so it was a welcome surprise. The next session is four weeks out instead of two, so I am looking forward to seeing how my body tolerates a longer gap of time.