Humira: Injection 1
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Monday was my first injection of Humira, so we are now one week in. As explained in my previous post, I was nervous, but also looking forward to seeing how the drug works for me. This serves as a quick update, and I’ll keep you updated throughout the journey. Now let’s be clear, I was not expecting a miracle with just one injection, it will take time, but I have seen a few things.

I’ve seen some fading from some of the Psoriasis, but not all. I’ve tried to not use any topicals to see how well the Humira was working, sadly I had to apply a little bit as some spots were getting a bit rowdy, but I like where we are heading. A hopeful goal is close to clear (or fully clear!) for Summer.

On the joint side of things…my left thumb still continues to be a tad bigger than my other and slightly red. A lot less pain when bending it all the way, so that is promising! Ankles and knees have had a lot less pain for a bit while under the Prednisone regiment, and continue to display that. One way I have noticed progress is when I could finally get back to some quick morning exercises, lunges were the one that got me with bending to that degree. More recently this week I have felt less stiffness when I do lunges, which is awesome, however there is still a tad bit of stiffness, but hardly noticeable.

So, we shall see what happens with injection number two, and when I see my rheumatologist later this month. Injection two in t-minus one week!

PersonalMike Cutler
A healthy bit of advice...

I’m not normally one to share every detail of my life online…there are those who want you to know everything that goes on with them, every second of the day…you know who you are. ;)

That being said, I’ll be that person for the next few minutes, my ailments began in mid December when my Iritis and Uveitis returned in my eyes, the last time this happened was when I got Lyme Disease a few years back. Several months after having Lyme, I developed Psoriasis…my autoimmune problems began, and I think that lovey little tick awoken it all.

Random Rant: I’m sure you know what autoimmune means, but if you don’t here is a quick synopsis: Autoimmune is when your immune system is overactive, which can cause a number of problems for your body. So while the immune system is fighting off the germs over there, it is also attacking healthy parts of your body, but it perceives them as threats, like the germs. So germ fighting (POW, BOOM, POW) and at the same time (for me) attacking my eyes, my skin, my tendons and joints…the body is a complex place that’s for sure!

So, back to the story - I venture to my fantastic eye doctor to get that cleared up…and as it’s clearing up I develop some stomach pains that crop up a few times a day and pass very quickly, along with the beginnings of pains in my legs which I attributed to being on my feet working on Christmas Eve. Nothing progresses in the worse direction till after the New Year….

…Ahhh helloooo 2019…this year certainly entered with a bang! First was a trip to the lab to get a lyme test and a liver check up (needed when taking Methotrexate for Psoriasis), thankfully the lyme was negative, but still no answers as to what is ailing me. The stomach pains have continued, and now the leg pains were settling into my right calf, left knee and ankle, and getting painful to walk. I made an appointment with my doctor, but wouldn’t be seen until mid-February…that surely wasn’t going to work. Thankfully, I was lucky to be seen by another doctor in the office on January 11th. I told her everything that had been going on, and she was able to listen, look at me, and type it all out at the same time - very impressive! What concerned her the most was of course, the legs. I hadn’t noticed before but when we looked at my ankles they were swollen, so much so I couldn’t see my achilles heel, not normal for me…and she measured my right calf and it was 1.5cm larger than my left. It was also warm and the spot that was the main point of pain was stiff and slightly hard. Off I went for an emergency ultrasound to see what was going on. After an hour wait I was in the room, I never had an ultrasound of my leg before, so I was very curious what she would find. She scanned the entire leg from groin to ankle and foot, taking many pictures, and having me move my foot back and forth and as I did that you could hear the movement in my leg, it was very interesting. That completed I went home, anxious to relax.

Only home for a little bit, the doctor called letting me know nothing critical was found, but they did find a superficial thrombophlebitis. Non-medical terms this is a blood clot found in the surface veins near the skin, amazing something so small can cause so much pain, thankful this wasn’t in your deep veins or we would have had a much more serious problem, and it is rare a superficial blood clot moves to your deep veins. She told me to rest, elevate, use heating pads, and take Ibuprofen for the pain. My wife really stepped up and was incredible, worried for me, she took care of me to the T - and I owe her so much now! :) I took a few days off work (unheard of for me) and rested up. My movement was slow and painful, and this would go away hopefully in a week or two. The question was still out there…what is causing all of this? Mid-week I head in for more lab work and a chest x-ray, my doctor had a few ideas as to what may be causing all of this. First up was Sarcoidosis. This would be answered with the x-ray, to see if I had lung growths, since I already have the skin patches of Psoriasis. Very relieved that came back clear, but my inflammation levels in my blood work were extremely high, so we continue to look.

The next thought was toxicity to the Methotrexate. I stopped taking that and went from the Ibuprofen for the legs to the magical drug Prednisone. This is truly a wonder drug…after a day the swelling was gone, pain was gone, I was able to move more naturally, my stomach pains were gone, and my skin was the clearest it’s been since 2013. The goal here was to get the legs cleared up and see if the Methotrexate was the cause of all this. The only down sides to being on Prednisone was the fact I had to pee more often, and my appetite was through the roof! Though, I could stand to put on a few pounds. The 10 day regiment came to an end…the pain and the swelling returned.

I finally got in to see my doctor on January 30th; he is a great guy and I don’t feel rushed when I see him, we can chat about the problems and really find a solution. He had done a lot of research into my ailments and we discussed things as he looked me over. We were onto a new diagnosis as if it was toxicity to the Methotrexate my body should have cleared that up and the pain and swelling would be gone, since it was not gone and still present, something else was still causing this inflammation. The current thought trend is: Psoriatic Arthritis. This makes sense as I check off a lot of the boxes for it, but there is no smoking gun that you can test to say YES - you have this 100%. Next step would be seeing the Rheumatologist.

What does Psoriatic Arthritis do? Well, being a form of arthritis it goes for the big joints, and even the small ones, such as your fingers. I’m lucky it has not gotten there…yet. For me, my knees and ankles are stiff at times to move, as well as my tendons near my bones in these areas - this is where it is different. The Rheumatologist said it best: PsA goes for where the tendons meet the bones, and there is fluid build up which creates the stiffness. This is exactly what I have been experiencing! Of course, if left untreated it will destroy your joints.

He is a very young doctor, but very knowledgeable in his field. I was lucky to snag a cancellation spot, or we were waiting till mid-March. We had a very thorough discussion on my problems, and why we think it is linked to PsA, and the steps forward. They were as expected, we will treat this using Humira, a biologic drug. We discussed all the things about going on this drug, certainly a lot to take in, but this is the way forward to being back to normal.

Fun fact about Humira: As I read more into this drug (the swiss army knife of the drug world) it tackles 9 different ailments all from one injection pen - incredible! More incredible? The fact that in 2012 it was the most popular drug in the world - making the company from North Chicago 12 billion dollars. Since it is a biologic it is very expensive. I’ll be taking 2 injections a month…if you had no insurance the out of pocket cost is about $5,000 dollars, absolutely insane!! Thankfully I have very good insurance through work, and my out of pocket cost per month is $150. That is brought down even more with the Humira Savings Card which eats the rest of that $150 to just $5 dollars a month - very manageable, but for those who aren’t so lucky that savings card is truly a savings card, allowing them to have a normal life taking this drug.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous or apprehensive to go on Humira. I’ve done a lot of research about the drug and the risks/side effects it poses. Since it suppresses your immune system you have an increased risk of serious infections and lymphoma is also a risk. I’ve found some stats that do help me a bit with how low these are, but they are still there and I need to be vigilant, as I always try to be - I’m a germaphobe, so that helps…maybe.

On the flip side I will say this - I am very lucky to live where I live. SVMC is one of the best little hospitals in the country. The care and attention I’ve received these last few weeks has been extraordinary.

As I sit here now, typing this out the pain is minimal, but I can still feel the stiffness. This is my path now, and I know I must follow it, with the Humira, to get myself back to 100% and enjoy all the things I do enjoy in life. I will be vigilant and (as I read online) temper my fears with reality.

So…I’ve bored you with my story, but here’s my healthy bit of advice, and it’s simple: If you are not feeling 100% yourself in any aspect of your life, seek help with whatever it is. I was stupid and waited a week too long, thinking it would go away on it’s own, clearly it has other plans for me. We all deserve to get quality care and live a quality life, so if you need help, get help! :)

PersonalMike Cutler
Looking back and looking ahead

Another year has come and gone…for me it was a great year of growth in my freelance work as well as personally. I gained a few clients, which is always exciting. The bigger news is my wife and I bought our house and celebrated one year of marriage! She’s one lucky lady…I’m sure she already knows that.

2018 was a great year! The first thing that happened a big deal in your adult life…closing on our house!!! We are so happy to be in a house we’ve now made into our home. Work at CAT-TV (my day job) went well last year, pushing out new content and covering those meetings everyone loves.

Freelancing with Roadshow was very busy last year…among a variety of shoots two highlights were going to the New York Auto Show for 4 days. It was neat to go to some pre-show shoots for Nissan, Waymo, and Audi…then two days on the show floors. The other highlight was being asked to go to Jackson Hole, WY to film the new 2019 Chevy Silverado! Talk about a location and perfect vehicle for such a landscape, the bonus: I was sent by myself, so it was exciting to be trusted with such a responsibility.

The wife and I took a fun trip to visit my Brother who is stationed in Stuttgart, I haven’t been back to Germany since 2007, it was long overdue. We went to visit my host family in Leipzig for two days, that was so much fun to see them and be with them for a couple days…I’m lucky to have them in my life! Since being in Stuttgart I couldn’t resist going to the Porsche Museum!! What an amazing place! And to top that off, I went on a factory tour, so amazing to see how the world’s most iconic sports car is built. Played some golf with my Brother, a favorite thing of ours. Then we all went on an excursion to Salzburg, Austria! What a beautiful city! Full of history and of course…where they filmed parts of ‘The Sound of Music’! We went on a four hour bike tour of the city and all of the places they filmed the movie, it was the best way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. To finish off our trip, we spent the night in Munich before our flight, what a great city, and what a fantastic trip!!

The last big highlight of 2018 came in November. Every year the Vermont Business Magazine seeks out the top ‘40 under 40 Rising Stars of Vermont. People of my community can nominate people of they think are worthy of such a prestigious award…I was lucky to be nominated by two people in town, so I sent in my information to VBM. They also ask some questions and they want to see what I do to help my community and how I’m involved in my community. They received over 250 nominations this past year, and the judges have a tough job of bringing that down to just 40. I was lucky enough to be selected for this prestigious award, along with 6 others from my town, great representation from The Shires of Vermont!

2019 is here with us for another 11ish months, so we might as well make the best of it. A new thing of mine is setting some yearly goals, monthly goals, as well as long term goals. As you can tell I’m not great with the blogging, so one of them is making sure I keep this updated at least once a month, if not more. I’d love to work with some more great people this year, as well as collaborate with other photographers to make some awesome content. Personally I want to be healthier to my body, so more exercise and better food. Top it off with getting to bed earlier.

Side Note: as I write this I am dealing with some health issues through my body, so the whole personally wanting to be healthier speaks volumes.

I hope 2019 brings you all much success and happiness, we are well on our way for another trip around the Sun. Let’s make the best of it!

Mike Cutler
Jackson for a Silverado

Back in early August I was lucky enough to venture out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  There the new 2019 Chevy Silverado was waiting. I don’t attend many press drive events, so they are always a blast to go to. Roadshow sent little ol’ me and their Executive Editor Chris Paukert. Two flights later, the Teton’s welcomed me back after many years since my last visit. If you have never been to Jackson Hole, Wyoming I highly recommend it! A lot of beautiful vistas that may make you want to call it home; I mean…look at this approach into the airport!!

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These press trips are very quick things, so it was an honor to be the only videographer for Roadshow there…but that also meant I had to have my shit together.  It is a lot to be trusted with to make sure you get all the shots needed to make the review as complete as possible.

We have arrived!  Now you may ask why Jackson, Wyoming?  Well, Wyoming is one of biggest new truck markets in North America, so Chevy wants everyone to know they take “Truck Country” seriously.  Plus, why not Jackson?!  It’s epically beautiful!!  

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You knew you were in the right spot with this greeting - the new 2019 Silverado towing a classic Silverado.  You can see just how big they’ve gotten through the decades, crazy! We’d have one day to gather everything we need, and then another group would be there the next day, fast pace!  Big thanks to Chevy for being nice enough to let me have the truck overnight for sunset and sunrise content, lucky that we had great weather for it.  

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Chevy has a nice “headquarters” where they had presentations and served us some delicious food during our stay. 

Now, filming day, lots of driving for Chris and lots of filming for me.  For these reviews there is a variety of sections we need to film such as PTC (Presenter to Camera) where Chris explains all about the car standing in front of it and inside driving as well.  Then a lot of B-Roll to enhance his PTC.  We get detail shots, general shots, pass bys, GoPro, and drone.  I always like to make sure the editor has a lot to choose from.   

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We began the day with a drive over into Idaho and to this amazing place right on the boarder of Wyoming and Idaho.  These amazing homes, that double as private plane storage and they have their own runway to come and go as they please.  The millionaire lifestyle for sure.  As you can see the hangars added a nice backdrop for the trucks in addition to the natural backdrops all around us.

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The High Country tailgate is a very pleasant place to have lunch.  It has an industry first of power up AND down tailgate, so no more worries of accidentally dropping a tailgate, as I know I have in the past.   

We pushed through the afternoon to finish all the essential filming we needed to get done, and started our trek back up to Jackson.   

Our drive back to Jackson flowed along the famous Snake River, giving way to some stunning backdrops against this amazing river.  We had only one hiccup during the day, and that was the loss of a GoPro.  We went back to look all around where it could have fallen, but no luck, and we needed to get back to the hotel.  Only when I got home did I think to look at footage from my other GoPro, which happened to be point the same way, but filming something else, and there it was.   

 

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You can see through my horrible screenshot here of where she fell.  Sadly it was not there when we passed by this spot again....

Anyway, moving on! 

 We were graced with perfect weather when we were there, and that made for some great sunset and sunrise footage and photos.  I’ll stop talking and let the photos do the talking...

 

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As you can see I was lucky with the weather and the location. The fires from California were playing a factor in these photos as well...you can see the heavy haze along the mountain range.  Amazing the smoke has moved this far inland and so much of it, and on the same hand very sad.   

After a great sunset and even greater sunrise, I had to sadly, turn then truck in.  I enjoyed my very brief time with it even though I’m not much of a truck guy.  It didn’t handle like a huge truck (which was nice!), was comfy, and had plenty of things to keep me interested - it also looks pretty good to me.  

The embargo for the video of the Silverado was for about another week (embargo is when all media outlets can finally tell you how good or bad a car is) so the Roadshow team had time to edit this and get it ready for the following week.   

That day arrived and I was very humbled to see my image right on the homepage of CNET, that’s pretty darn awesome!   

 

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You can check out the full review, right here:  

Thanks for joining me on my first blog post!  I plan to have many more, and I hope you enjoy them.  Thanks for visiting my site and taking a look at my work, it’s much appreciated!  :)  

Mike Cutler