I felt AWFUL on methotrexate. I never really felt like it did a lot for me. Then I ended up being very sick a year later (liver went toxic among other things) and stopped taking it in 2003.
I've been on Arava since April and it is definitely making a difference (something I was never sure of on mthx) and I am not having as many noticable issues like I did on mthx (at least not yet - knock on wood!) I have been having some bowel issues for about a week and half....but, I just lowered my dose of Arava last month....don't know why something like that would kick in now if it is from the med. It's probably something else since there is a bug going around - I also just returned from a long camping trip, maybe my stomach is readjusting. I was VERY hesitant to start Arava after my mthx experience. I'm glad I tried it.
Also, my doc said they don't typically give the 'loading dose' anymore....he told me why, but I can't remember at the moment. In any case, I was not given one.
I've been taking mtx for about 4-5 months now, and I must say it works well for me. My rheumy gave me the choice of mtx or arava as well, but he told me in his experience, arava doesn't work as well as mtx. I believe it simply depends on the patient--some drugs work better for others. I also have bad GI issues, but I have had surprisingly very few GI side effects from the mtx. If you experience stomach problems that can be attributed to the mtx, you can always switch to the injectable form--which will bypass the stomach. If hair loss and/or mouth ulcers start being a problem, again my rheumy said he would just up my folic acid. It took a while for the mtx to kick in, but once it did I found it works very well for me.