The "Flu-mira"

It has been more than a year since I started treating my ankylosing spondylitis with Humira. This treatment has been life-changing. Even though I still might get some rigidity or pain now and then, my constant sacroiliac pain and limping in the morning has all gone to the past thanks to the prescription. But as with every medication, there are side effects, and Humira is no exception.

The first few times I had the injection no signs or symptoms were felt. It wasn't until a couple of months later that I started noticing some pattern after injection day.

After my injection, I noticed flu-like symptoms

I noticed that sometimes, days after self-administering this biological medication, I started to get the feeling that I was about to get the flu. Chills, feeling warm, and low energy are the usual symptoms of what I like to call the "Flu-mira."

When this happens it usually starts two or three days after the administration of the medication and lasts less than a day or two. The problem with this is trying to differentiate whether it is just the Humira or if I'm actually about to get sick. Thankfully, this doesn't happen every time I get the injection, but when it does it can be very confusing. Until this day I still don't know how to distinguish between both of these.

It's even scarier to feel like I'm getting sick these days

As I continue to do my clinical rotations in the hospital during my last year as a medical student, my chances of getting infected and truly sick are increased due to the constant exposure to sick patients.

Now with the pandemic going on, the thought of having COVID-19 also comes to my mind many times during this period of symptoms, and makes me self-conscious about the time spent with family and friends. I start overthinking about the possibility that I might have exposed them; but luckily this has not been the case.

I'm extra strict about protecting myself

Even though I can't be sure if what I'm experiencing is the "Flu-mira", what has helped me is to be extra strict with handwashing protocols and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed. This way I can protect myself not only from COVID-19, but also other infections that can be acquired while in the hospital.

For people like me that are under immunosuppressive medications, it is very important that we take extra care of ourselves by wearing masks and complying with cleaning protocols. A bottle of hand sanitizer has become my companion through the day, and wearing a mask is a must everywhere I go.

Getting boosters for the COVID-19 vaccines and seasonal influenza has also become part of my technique to make sure my immune system is fortified in case I'm exposed to these viruses. That way when I start feeling like I'm about to get sick I can be more calm knowing that it is probably the Humira since I've taken all the precautions possible to not get sick.

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