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My Experience With Taking Biologics for AS

I’ve been on biologics now for two and a half years. Before biologics, I was desperate for relief from the pain my AS was causing. I was taking the maximum daily dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

I hadn’t slept through the night properly for a couple of years. I’d wake up in the night because of stabbing pain and stiffness along my pelvis and spine. My ribs would hurt so much when I was breathing in that I couldn’t focus on what someone was saying to me or hold a conversation.

Sometimes, I would run a hot bath in the early hours of the morning to help cope with the pain. I was dragging myself through the day, just hoping for sleep that night. I was run down and exhausted.

When my rheumatologist brought up using biologics to treat my AS, I was eager to try them. At that point I was willing to give anything a try.

Starting biologics

Soon after deciding to try biologics, I had two nurse visits to my home to go over my prescription and teach me how to inject my biologic. The nurse told me that it could take up to 12 weeks for me to notice a difference, so not to panic if I didn’t feel better straight away.

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My symptoms didn’t reduce instantly, and there was no sudden moment when I felt the biologics start to work. Slowly but surely though, my symptoms started to ease. I started sleeping through the night. This meant I felt less stressed, and better rested and able to mentally deal with the symptoms that remained.

Injecting biologics

I’ve been on my biologic for two and a half years, but I don’t inject it myself. I used to really dislike needles and get very anxious and stressed about blood tests. I’ve made a lot of progress in being more comfortable with injections, but not to the point where I feel able to self-inject. I also find the injection itself quite painful and worry that I’d pull out the needle as a reflex reaction to the pain.

Some things which I’ve found have helped me cope with the injections are focusing on my breath and scrolling social media or watching a video on my phone as a distraction. I also choose an injection spot on my stomach rather than my thigh because I find injections in my stomach less painful.

Medication anxiety

My rheumatologist informed me about the risks of potential side effects from biologics when I was making the decision about whether to take them. I’ve found that since telling people I’m taking biologics, they sometimes ask me if I’m scared of the impacts it could have on my body in the long term. I was so desperate for something to help with my AS, that I hadn’t given this much thought.

I’ve reflected on it, and I think that on balance, I’m glad I haven’t dwelled on the risks too much. Right now, biologics are allowing me to live my life, rest and do the things I want to do. That’s what’s important to me. I’ve also found that people can have the attitude that taking no medication is the best way to live and that they are pushing this attitude onto my life and situation.

But taking a medication that helps me so much is nothing to feel guilt or shame about. If there comes a time where I get side effects or biologics aren’t working for me anymore, then I’ll deal with that when it happens. I don’t want to let medication anxiety take up too much of my headspace.

Reflecting on my biologics decision

I’m grateful to have access to biologics and that the first one I tried has worked so well for managing my AS. My symptoms haven’t completely disappeared, but it feels like the volume of my symptoms has been turned down. I hope that over time this means that any physical progression of my AS has also been slowed or prevented. I’m glad I decided to try biologics.

Have you tried biologics for your AS, or are you considering it? If you have, how was your experience?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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