Jump to content
Sclero Forums

Gidget

Members
  • Content count

    201
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Gidget

  • Rank
    Silver Member
  1. Reflux/Esophagus (CREST)

    Snowbird, It is my understanding that drugs like Nexium control the production of acid while tablets such as Tums neutralize the acid. I had severe acid reflux and I could not get it under control with any of the medication. I basically have little/no esophogus motility. My flap separating the esophogus and stomach was completely gone as a result of the acid having eaten it away. Ultimately, I had fundoplication surgery which helped dramatically. The surgery is such that the esophogus is stretched and wrapped around the stomach to make it difficult for the acid to come up into the esophogus. All the sclero doctors that I saw recommended that I NOT have this surgery done. The best I got was that even if it worked that it would only last 2 years as my esophogus would continue to deteriorate due to the sclero disease. In any event, I took the leap of faith and had the surgery done. It has been the best thing for me. My acid reflux is not bad at all and I pretty much eat everything. I just need to drink alot of liquid when I eat items such as bread in order to push the bread down. If this is something that people want to consider, my only advice is to have it done by a surgeon that does lots of them and one who is very familiar with sclero patients. The surgeon who did my procedure was great and I appreciate the fact that he was willing to adjust the surgery he performed based on how flexible he found my esophogus as he was aware that with sclero patients you don't really know how rigid the esophogus will be. If you reach the point that you can't manage the acid reflux no matter how many Nexiums you take, then this might be an option for you. Good Luck.
  2. High white blood cells

    Kelli, When I was initially diagnosed, my white cell count was 14. The normal range is between 4 and 10. At the time I was given IV cyclophosphamide and the drug drove my white cell count down to 6 but the doctors wanted it down more- to below 4. As such, the cyclophosphamide dosage was increased for the last 3 treatments and my white cell count hit just below 4 by the end of the last dosage. I have since then used my white cell count as an indicator of how active my disease is. My count went from the 4 to over 10 within 9 months and I seemed to be heading higher. At that time, I decided to enroll in a clinical trial with the drug Gleevec. Since taking Gleevec, my white count has come down to a 7 level. In all cases my neutriphils have been fine. As such, I keep close watch on my white cells as I know that during the cyclophosphamide dosages it is what my rheumatologist watched. Good luck. Gidget
  3. Lap Band Procedure?

    jackie, Just an FYI -- I have sclero and my esophogus does not work at all and the flap at the stomach is gone. As a result of all this my acid reflux is horrible and sometimes not under control. My GI doctor recently had a probe inserted into my GI tract which recorded my acidity over a 48 hour period to an external device and the record will be reviewed. The thought is that if my stomach acid is very bad that I will need some sort of stomach reduction in order to produce less acid. I am assuming this would be some sort of lap band procedure. The concern is that I am in danger of developing Barrett's syndrome which can lead to cancer. The GI doctor that I see treats several sclero patients and is familiar with the disease. As such, I believe that the procedure can be tolerated by sclero patients. Hope this info helps a little bit. Good luck. Gidget
  4. Americans with Disabilities Act

    Barefut, Here is a suggestion -- Submit paperwork requesting FMLA (Family Medical Leave). Then for the 2 hours that you leave early each day, have it charged to FMLA. On the days you choose to not leave early, then your time would not need to be charged. Of course, the reason you are leaving 2 hours early is to take care of yourself -- don't say you need it to manage the household. I believe you are entitled by federal law to 8 weeks of FMLA leave every two years. In some states ie. Connecticut, you can take up to 16 weeks of FMLA leave. Your HR dept can give you this info or you can find it out by googling it for your state. The important thing to note, is that FMLA offers job security in that your employer cannot lay your off or should not lay you off while you are on FMLA. Hope this suggestion helps. I have a friend that uses FMLA to take her mom to dr's apptmts, etc.. and she uses it by the hour but then again, this is in CT where the rules or the corporation are more flexible. Good Luck. Gidget
  5. My Child has Scleroderma

    Raechel, I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. You must be frantic! My suggestion is that you get with a sclero specialist as soon as possible. There are only a handful throughout the country but I think they are all very good. My personal experience has been positive with Wigley out of Johns Hopkins; Medsger out of Pittsburgh and Varga out of Northwestern, Chicago. You can also try Spiera out of NYC if that is closer. In any event, what you will want is to develop a team of doctors -- you need the sclero expert; you need a local rheumatologist to support the sclero expert; and you need your local pediatrician to also be part of the team. Depending on your daughters issues, you will need to add a local Gastric guy or a local Lung doctor -- probably ones that do peds. Basically, you will need a local team that understands the sclero issue. Do not be afraid to seek out the best medical attention that you can get. A great team of doctors will make all the difference in the world. Based on your posting, I think you need to move away from the doctor that is saying weight is the problem. Yes, the weight is the problem if your daughters issue is her lungs but it is how you eat that can help/hurt the gastro issues -- not her weight. I always feel that doctors that right away focus on weight just are not that sharp. Now, a lung doctor told me that you want to be as fit as possible as the fitter your body is, the better it utilizes oxygen -- now that makes sense -- not you need to lose weight. Good luck. Gidget.
  6. Flu shots/Gareth update

    Margaret, My rheumatologist told me NOT to get the H1N1 vaccine as there is no way to tell how someone with an autoimmune disorder will react to it as it is so new. In the meantime, a sanitization gel is my new best friend. I do not plan to get the flu, pneumonia or H1N1 vaccines as I believe that I got sclero from the Hepatitis or Typhoid vaccines. Can't prove that these vaccines caused sclero but within 8 months of the vaccine, I had it. I am also holding off on my daughters Guardasil and spinelmengitus vaccines until I see what happens with the H1N1 as there is no reason to weaken her system in time for the H1N1 season. Excuse my poor spelling. Good luck. Gidget.
  7. Cytoxan

    Hi Deb, I am not sure if you are on the oral or IV cytoxan. I did 6 monthly doses of the IV cytoxan and here are is what I think helps. First drink lots of water -- you want to flush the drug out of your system. By lots of water, I mean an 8oz glass every 2 hours. And try to do this for most of the month. I used to do it for 2 weeks and then got lazy the last 2 weeks. The other thing is to make sure you do absolutely Nothing the day of the treatment and the day after. If you do this, by the 2nd day you will start to feel better. If you don't, then the cytoxan will knock you on your butt for most of the month. That is why most people schedule the treatment for Friday, so they have the weekend to do nothing and are feeling better by Monday. Once, I had the cytoxan and then caught a plane the following day for a doctors appointment and I just could not get my energy back up again for the whole month. So, I think it is very important to get your treatment and then plan to lay around the house literally for the next 2 days. It will make a big difference if you just take this little bit of time. In any event, I liked being on the cytoxan once I knew how to use it. It will make your skin softer and your breathing will feel better -- I mean, you can take a deep breath and it won't hurt. I wanted to stay on it in quarterly doses but nobody would Rx it. I am happy that you have found a specialist even if you need to travel. I fly lots of places to see specialists that I am happy with. Good luck. Gidget
  8. The best Scleroderma Specialist?

    tonya, I have seen Dr. Medsger (Pittsburgh) and Dr. Wigley (Baltimore). I decided to see Dr. Wigley as he likes to RX cellcept while Dr. Medsger does not. At the time of my decision, Cellcept was the "new" drug. Both doctors are very capable. I have also heard good things about Birdman's Dr. Shanahan. I use Dr. Wigley to RX drugs/treatments, however, as I live in Florida -- the Mayo Clinic performs the treatments. When I was in CT, my CT rheumatologist would have the treatments done in CT. It is important that no matter who you decide on, that you have an excellent rheumatologist near where you live. Not only will they be helpful should you need them, but they can be an invaluable sounding board when trying to plan out different treatments. In most cases, I think your local rheumatologist will be happy to have you as a patient as it will give him/her and opportunity as to what the sclero specialists are doing and they can see first hand what works or does not. And they get the additional benefit of not having to be responsible for treating you. Good luck. Gidget
  9. Anyone have experience with Gleevec?

    Ani, I have been on Gleevec for over a year now. I initially received the drug as part of a clinical trial out of NYC with Hospital of Special Surgery. I am now in the follow up trial. The clinical trial is getting ready to publish their results for October and the doctors have told me unofficially that the drug has been promising. As I have lung issues and some skin hardening, my main hope was that it would work effectively for my lungs. After a year of the drug, my skin score went from a 21 to an 11 -- so I think it worked marvelously for that. As far as my lungs -- well they have remained relatively the same although they have drifted slightly downward in the year. What I have heard from the clinical trial is that of the 10 that completed the trial almost all the participants lung function remained the same and that a 2 of the participants had a significant improvement in their lung function. As a side note, the Mayo Clinic in MN did a study on Gleevec for pulmunary fibrosis on 400 patients and the results of their study showed "no significant change in lung function". When I brought this up to the clinical trial doctors in NYC, they indicated that they felt that the pulmunary fibrosis was caused by sclero and therefore it was not the same study. As far as side effects for Gleevec -- I had alot of nauseau initially and felt very worn out -- so I started to taking the dosage throughout the day on a full stomach and that help quite a lot. Also, while on Gleevec, I have less joint pain and I feel less arthritic. It takes a few months for your body to get use to Gleevec. I initially did not feel good on the drug. My only other comment is that the drug here in the USA runs about $3000-$4000 per month -- hence the reason I continue in the clinical study as there is no way any insurance company will cover this drug,. Also, some others have tried the clinical trial and had very poor luck with Gleevec in that it made them very sick. I think if you search Gleevec on the forum you will see some other experiences. Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions. Gidget.
  10. Travelling and swine flu

    Alex, When I travel, I take anticeptic wipes and when I get on the airplane, I wipe down everything that I will touch -- the arm rests; the tray, the seat belt clips, etc.. While in the airports, trains, subways, etc.. I always carry a little bottle of germ killer and am constantly using it numerous times a day. Like you, I am very concerned about the swine flu. Should we have an epidemic, I expect to begin wearing a mask. Also, I try to wipe down grocery carts too. In general, I try to not shake hands. I think the best we can do is think about it and try to keep our hands clean. When I was on a flight from Orlando to NYC, the person sitting next to me got sick on the plane with projectile vomiting. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin!! I jumped out of my seat and ran to the next available one and practically launched myself into someone's lap to get away. I could not get off that plane fast enough! I did ask my rheumatologist if I should get the vaccine when it is available -- he said no. That the vaccine itself is 2 shots and he is afraid that it will further trigger my autoimmune system. He said that this has been a problem with previous type vaccines. good luck. gidget
  11. Moving To A Warmer Climate?

    Eddie, Used to live in Connecticut and moved to Northeast Florida. I have sclero with lung involvement and Raynaud's. The change in weather helped me in the following areas: - Warmer weather improved circulation. Less sores on my fingers. - Slower lifestyle eliminated stress - Humidity was good for my very very dry skin. - Good weather all year which means that I can walk all year which has been good for my overall fitness. In CT, during the winters I would be curled up on the couch which kept me stiff and sore. I believe that my change in lifestyle and environment has had a huge impact on me and my quality of life. Good luck. Gidget
  12. Finally a generic Cellcept

    Barefut, What is the name of the generic? Thanks. Gidget
  13. Angie, I also have just become eligible Medicare and the prescriptions plans and here is what I have found. 1 - Contact your state insurance department to find out what medicare supplement programs are eligible to you. This is especially important if you are under 65 as not all medicare plans are available to you. For example, in Florida there are no medicare supplemental plans available as I am under 65 and disabled. In Connecticut, I can purchase Plan A, B and C. These are the only plans that can be sold to me. I believe each state is different. Also, keep in mind that Medicare covers stem cell transplant -- so when you go to a medicare advantage program, I think that it is the advantage program that now pays for your coverage and you are not using the medicare program. For me, I want to make sure I am in Medicare and don't want to muddy the situation with the advantage program. 2 - As I see doctors in many different states, it is best if I get the medicare supplement and NOT a medicare advantage plan. With a medicare supplement, if the doctor accepts medicare, then they have to accept the supplement as it works in all states. Under the medicare advantage plan, it is only good for doctors in their network as then you have out of network requirements which from what I can see, means limited coverage for those of us under 65 and disabled. 3 - For the prescription plans, I am going to the cheapest plan as most of my drugs are generic and I will get from a local pharmacy, etc.. I set up my drug list, and for me the only drug that has been problematic is the Nexium -- so I am looking for an plan that rates it as a Tier 1 drug; does not need prior authorization; does not need step therapy and and does not limit the quantity. Any of the immunosuppresent drugs will need prior authorization from what I can tell, but for me getting Nexium has been my battle with the insurance company. Also, if you are under 65 and disabled, keep in mind your deadline to pick something. You only have a 3 month window and not the 6 month window that you would have if you are 65. For the prescription coverage amounts the $2700 and the no gap up to $4300, these amounts reset every calendar year (Jan1). Also, I think you can switch in and out of the Plan D program each fall if you do not like your current provider. Good luck. Gidget
  14. New drug

    Birdman, I am sorry to hear that your lungs are not holding. Mine continue to drift downward slowly. Yes, I did the IV cytoxan. Yes - I tried the Cellcept -- couldn't handle it -- it made me bleed. Yes - I have had a RX for Imuran but decided not to take it. Instead I did the clinical trial for Gleevec (leukemia drug) and I took Gleevec for a year. MY PFTs remained the same or slightly better year over year and my skin did great. I think I went from a skin score of 21 to 10/11. Also, the skin biopsy showed an improvement year over year. I am now trying to get into a follow up study. I am not sure if all the Gleevec clinical trials have a follow up study but the study at Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC has a 2 year follow up where you can get the drug (Gleevec) for another 2 years after you end the trial. Which is great as it normally costs $5,000 a month for the drug if you don't have insurance or can't get insurance to cover it. Johns Hopkins will prescribe it and work to get insurance coverage. On a separate note, Mayo clinic studied Gleevec for lung fibrosis and did not get a "statistically significant" result but the doctors. at HSS say that is because they did not test it on sclero people and they (HSS) are seeing the PFTs either stay the same; slightly improve; or improve quite a bit (unusual but true). During the gap period, I have also taken Colchizine which is a gout medicine. Pretty much every rheumatologist doctor will tell you it does not work but the lung transplant doctor told me that he gives the drug to people waiting for the lung transplant and sometimes it works for their fibrosis and sometimes it doesn't. He has no idea why or on who it works. But it is a great drug as you don't even know you are taking it. Personally, if I were you, I would not take it as it seems like your disease is very active but for me, I like it as it made me feel like I was doing something during my gap period. Best of luck with everyting. REgards, Gidget
  15. Ear lobes shrinking?

    My ear lobes have shrunk as well. Gidget
×