More about Micaela
Micaela has experienced a number of major illnesses, the first being depression in 2001, which has been treated with various antidepressants including venlafaxine which she currently takes.
Late in 2001 Micaela was diagnosed with inflammatory eye disease after experiencing temporary blindness. She was started on daily intravenous infusions of steroids until her vision improved, and then on oral steroids and methotrexate to keep the condition under control. Flare-ups were treated with steroid infusions. In 2011 she was weaned off oral steroids and methotrexate as her disease was mostly in remission. Since then, occasional flare-ups have been treated with topical steroids to her eyes.
Seven months after having her first episode of inflammatory eye disease, Micaela was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, despite being on oral steroids and methotrexate for her eyes which are also used to control Crohn’s disease. Micaela currently takes Salofalk and Imuran for her Crohn’s disease.
Micaela knows that some of the medicines she has taken over the years are very strong and are also used to treat cancer. She has experienced a number of side effects, especially from the steroids, such as muscle and joint pain, mood changes, lowered immunity, mouth ulcers and weight gain. It can be difficult for Micaela to tell whether some of her symptoms are due to her medicines or one of her medical conditions as it is quite common for people with Crohn’s disease to have joint or hip problems and muscle weakness.
When she first started high-dose steroids for eye disease, despite experiencing side effects such as mood changes, Micaela felt relief as they had an immediate effect, and knew that the dose would decrease. She was concerned when she was told by her doctor that methotrexate might affect her ability to have children, especially as she also has endometriosis. Micaela tries to avoid using Endone unless it is absolutely necessary, as it is a fairly strong painkiller.
Micaela’s GP oversees all her medicines, many of which were started by specialists. Micaela appreciates being given information in advance from her doctors about things to be aware of with both her medical conditions and medicines. While her GP is great at discussing things, some of her specialists aren’t so good at providing information without her asking them specific questions. Some of her specialists tend to just be interested in the condition that they are treating and do not view the patient holistically and how the disease and medicines can affect other parts of the body. Micaela regularly sees two pharmacists and appreciates their advice and information on medicines. She has found the internet useful for researching her conditions and medicines, and online forums and support groups helpful for sharing information and experiences.
Now that her medicine regimen is fairly stable, it is easier for Micaela to manage her medicines. She finds having a medicines list useful, but still occasionally misses doses. Sometimes this is because she forgets, and at times if she is feeling low with her depression, getting out of bed and taking pills seems just too hard, although she generally takes her antidepressant to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety or restlessness. She has thought of getting her pharmacist to package her medicines into Webster-paks, but feels that at 38 she is too young yet. Her complex medicine regimen means she always has to be very organised about her medicines, which makes it difficult for her to be spontaneous, such as sleeping over at someone’s house at short notice.
The cost of Micaela’s medicines is an issue, especially the supplements and other medicines that are not on the PBS. Sometimes she can’t afford to pay for some of her supplements, which can cost up to $1000 a month.
While sometimes finding having to manage all her medicines a bit depressing and frustrating, Micaela feels her medicines have helped her day-to-day life and overall wellbeing.