I twisted off the white ridged lid and peered into the bottle. Elliptical orange pills stared up at me. I tipped one into my hand and inspected its bulky shape. They were thicker than the slim white pills of Hydroxychloroquine; and somehow, more intimidating. Descriptions of allergic reactions resulting in atrocious body rashes trickled into my head.
We began a regular routine, meeting twice a day, usually at breakfast and lunch; it would take six to eight weeks before any improvement in symptoms would manifest. Headaches troubled me for quite a number of days as my body adjusted to the new medication. Every day I checked my skin for that tell-tale rash associated with sulfa drugs. Any sign of a red hue on my chest would see me in front of the mirror waiting for hives to pop up – they never did.
Two months after meeting, I toddled into the lab to make sure my new orange buddy was not encroaching on my kidney and liver function. The headaches had subsided, but were replaced with stomach pain. It was exasperating to me that my morning stiffness had diminished due to the Sulfasalazine, but now I was afflicted with a different sort of trial. I followed up with my Rheumatologist and he reported a change for the better in the state of my arthritis. I was pleased to hear this, but was concerned about the stomach pain I was experiencing. He told me it would subside in time and to make sure I took the Sulfasalazine with food. In his opinion, the medication was working; my joints were better than they had been in months. I had to choose between the lesser of two evils: I could stop the medication and risk the return of frequent flares, or I could live with the stomach pain and hope it subsided over time. I decided I would give it more time. In the end, the inconvenience of a stomach ache was more tolerable than the pain and stiffness of my joints. I could live with it…for now.