Photo: profile picture of MS blogger Claire Thackray

How I feel about changing MS treatments

Claire is switching treatments after eight years.

When I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2010, I was given the choice of starting a monthly infusion or medicating myself at home with beta interferon.

A monthly infusion sounded invasive so I felt beta interferon was my only option. There were many brands to choose from, but my MS nurse was quick to suggest a particular brand because it only needed to be injected once a week. I agreed.

It sounded preferable to injecting every day, or three times a week.

Getting my MRI results

After my most recent MRI scan, my neurologist wrote to me and recommended I change my treatment to an oral DMT. The scan showed that my MS was progressing and so I agreed to change my prescription.

The treatment I’m switching to is said to reduce relapse rates by up to 50% and doesn’t need to be injected or stored in the fridge. Yay! No more injections! Or so I thought…

Understanding how my body responds to my DMT

Call me crazy, but I actually miss doing my injections.

I have injected myself once a week for eight years. But until now, I hadn’t realised how much comfort I take in understanding how my body responds to this DMT.

Sometimes I feel incredibly nervous about changing my treatment, mainly because of the potential side effects. But then I stop. Breathe. Think. This is exactly how I felt before I started the beta interferon all those years ago… and I was alright.

Building-up doses and blood tests

My MS nurse sent me a little booklet that provided information about this oral DMT. She told me I'd need a blood test one month after starting my new treatment and then a repeat test every three months.

My neurologist is breaking me in gently. I will start by taking a half dose every morning and evening for five weeks, and then I'll up it to the full dose twice a day. This seems a logical approach – a stepping stone to help my mind and body deal with this change. My MS is helping me to grow ever more resilient.

It’s good to talk

I've been fortunate enough to meet a couple of fantastic people already taking this treatment. Like their MS, their experiences with this DMT have been varied but not in a negative way. They both kindly answered a heap of my questions and now I'm feeling really positive and courageous. I am not alone and it's definitely good to talk!