Friday, October 30, 2009

My love/hate relationship with Prednisone

I've been on varying doses of prednisone for about 12 years. Some times at 5 mg a day, sometimes at 20 mg a day. As with most prednisone stories, it started with love. I clearly remember the first day I was on prednisone. I had been on 8 aspirin a day to control my symptoms, but still, every day, my mom had to do my hair in a pony tail, help me get dressed and drive me to school. I couldn't walk that far and lifting my hands over my head was simply not possible. I remember writing my grade 10 year end exams where my fingers would stick in the shape of how I was holding my pen, and I would have to physically pry them open. At the time, I thought it was funny. Now - not so much.

I remember taking prednisone at night and waking up a whole new person. I could walk, better yet - I could run! I felt like I was myself again. I'd been a member of the basketball and volley ball teams a mere 4 months ago and then I couldn't walk to school. Little did I know the long-term cost of this new-found freedom.

My love affair continued when I wanted to have kids. Most anti-arthritic and immunosupressant meds don't mix with pregnancy - so prednisone at a higher dose is one of the few options available. During my pregnancy things went swimmingly, until I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and for my second munchkin, I went on insulin. My daughter was born 5.5 weeks early, and my amniotic fluid was leaking for 1 week prior to delivery. It turns out, it was great that I was on prednisone, as they generally give steroids when babies are premature to help with lung development. In my case, I'd been on steroids for the duration of the pregnancy, so Chelsea's lungs were just fine. This is one of the very few favours prednisone has ever done for me.

My relationship with prednisone started to deteriorate when I really started paying attention to the side effects. I'd been on the drug so long, I didn't really notice that I have "mood swings" - although that seems like an understatement. I don't know that I recognized them for what they really are - hard to control fits of strong emotion that require a conscious effort to keep in check. I also have a sizable "hump" on the back of my neck - but since I don't see it all the time, I don't notice it.

I love it and I hate it. Right now now I'm slowing ending the relationship, one less mg per month. If all goes according to plan, April 1st, 2010 I will be be prednisone-free. Keep your fingers crossed.

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