Most people don’t know what a Kenalog injection is but I imagine that there are quite a few in the sporting world who are now familiar with the drug Triamcinolone. Triamcinoclone is an anti-inflamatory cortico-steroid used to treat a number of conditions, including hay-fever and asthma and which is prescribed under a number of trade-names, including Kenalog.
As a life-long sufferer of severe hay-fever which often led to ad-hoc asthma attacks when the pollen count was very high, I tried every drug available to control my symptoms. I admit that no-one is going to die of hay-fever, but the symptoms are horrible and quality- of- life-limiting. This is before it develops into an asthma attack, which we know can be fatal.
My symptoms were so bad that when I was referred for immunotherapy treatment, the allergy specialist who was evaluating my claim for treatment said that he had never seen anti-bodies attack the pollen which was introduced to my blood sample so aggressively and recommended that my 3-year series of immunotherapy injections should start as soon as possible.
When I was a young girl, my sister used to take me to watch her and her friend play tennis. She still remembers sitting me down on the bench by the court and covering my head with a damp towel. I was “happy” to sit like this until they had finished because the damp towel kept the pollen out of my eyes and nose. My sister then used to lead me home by the hand; me with the towel still on my head.
Unless you have suffered with hay-fever, you cannot grasp the scale of irritation, fatigue and frustration which goes with it so, when a group of hospital Doctors against whom I was playing a tennis match and who couldn’t believe that I was still playing despite having to sneeze and blow my nose between each point suggested I had a Kenalog injection, I was more than happy to trot off to my GP and demand the needle.
At the time in the mid 1990’s, my GP was happy to prescribe it and so I arrived back at the surgery within a couple of hours desperate as I was, for the nurse to administer the drug. I had been told that it was a high-dose steroid that I was having and that there were potential side effects; I had to stay in the surgery for 30 minutes after the injection in case I went into shock (I didn’t) and that I may suffer from localised muscle loss in the injection site leaving a “dimple” (I did).
But when I woke up the next morning, and every morning after that for 2 months, I had NO hay-fever or asthma symptoms. To this day, after taking part in drugs trials and after 3 years of immunotherapy treatment, I can honestly say that this injection of Triamcinoclone was the only treatment I have ever had that worked. No symptoms at all.
Sadly, Kenalog as I understand, is not licenced for use to treat allergies and when I moved house and changed GP, I could not secure a prescription. Instead, I was referred for the immunotherapy treatment.
The reason I am writing about my experience is because Sir Bradley Wiggins used this drug under a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) before he rode in the 2012 Tour de France. He is now accused of “abusing the TUE system to his advantage” and I was particularly incensed when I heard a previously banned cyclist talking on Radio 5 Live a few weeks ago (I can’t remember his name) criticising Bradley Wiggins’ use of this drug as a TUE. He inferred that Sir Bradley had abused the drug and cycling rules for a “minor illness.” Clearly he has never suffered or seen anyone suffer from severe hay-fever/asthma symptoms. I struggled to maintain any sort of normality in the summer months before I came across Kenalog, let alone take part in elite sport and the fact that Sir Bradley took this drug to enable him to take part at that particular time of year when the pollen count is particularly high, is no surprise. In fact, if his symptoms are so severe there is no way he could have taken part without it.
I would therefore like to know what experience the critics have of allergy-related illnesses and how they are treated. Do they understand what treatments do and don’t work?
I doubt it and I support Bradley Wiggins all the way.
Triamcinoclone provided him with the means to compete on a level playing field.