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Monday, February 4, 2013

Guest Blogger: Falanya Curtis From A Lupie Existence

I Don’t “Blame It On The Alcohol” I “Blame It On the Prednisone”!

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jamie Fox’s song, “Blame it on the Alcohol” but it’s the refrain to that song from which I take the title of this blog post.
Now, I do not condone over-indulgence in alcohol, but in my strange sense of humor, this title popped into my head one day and it made me laugh – a valuable commodity these days.

So, just what am I blaming on Prednisone

Well…so many things! But I will only mention a few and to start, this:
Prednisone Hump
See it?
Don’t look at me like that!
You know exactly what I’m talking about!
My newly formed chipmunk cheeks and the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s hump I’ve got going on!

Those lovely additions are the result of being on Prednisone

…a steroid, since 2008!
Here’s briefly how that came about:
I was sitting on the examination table in front of my rheumatologist after a painful routine examination. She would press on all of my tender joints, and other painful points, to the point where I wanted to kick that woman! However, my Christian principles always prevented me from indulging in that potentially satisfying reaction.
She was about to write me a prescription for a biologic to go along with the Methotrexate I was already taking, in an effort to reduce the level of inflammation in my body, when I informed her that this would be my last visit.
     “Why,” she asked.
     “I won’t have insurance after this visit.” I replied.
Confused, she asked why and I told her how my husband had quit his job and was moving to another state without me. In disbelief, she kept repeating the same question a few times,
     “He left?”
     “Yes”, I replied.
Shaking her head, she repeated,
     “He left?”
     “Yes,” I replied again. “He left.”
When she asked that very same question yet again, I finally caught on that this was apparently a rhetorical question. I can be slow sometimes.
So she crumpled up the sheet on the prescription pad that she was writing on and started writing a new prescription.
“I didn’t want to start you on this just yet. You’re young to be getting started on steroids but it’s effective and cheap.”
And my journey with Steroids began!
Well, sort of, but not really. She actually prescribed Prednisone for me the year before, on a trial basis, to see how I would respond to it, and boy did I respond!

I felt so much better after the first few doses

I called up my boss/friend and told her I was coming back to work!
My legs no longer felt as if I were dragging extremely obese children from each limb and I could walk with my head held high on shoulders pushed back – a stance I hadn’t been able to attain in months!
I loved Prednisone!
blame it on the pred-page-001
After 2 weeks, the trial was over and my rheumatologist had the information that she needed. My body responded positively to steroids. Instead of prescribing me more, she increased the dosages of my anti-inflammatory medications.
Blast! I wanted Prednisone! Little did I know what I was asking for.

Prednisone’s side effects are nothing to sneeze at!

If you take a glance at the long list of things that it can do to you body, you’d no doubt wonder why it’s prescribed even at all!
As one of my mother’s rheumatologists told her many years ago, “There’s nothing else out there like it.”

You see, Prednisone squashes your immune system in such a way that when my Lupus isflaring, to simply take 2.5 milligrams more reduces swelling and gives me blessed pain relief.

At the same time, if I remain at too high of a level for too long I increase my chances of something bad happening.
So far, I have exhibited the following things that I blame on the Prednisone:
Please Note: I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites to prevent you from reading on into eternity.

Heightend Aggression…

I don’t back down easily in a discussion, heated debate or argument anymore.
It’s like my cut-off switch has been disabled and the fail-safe mechanism that would signal to me that it’s time to shut up, is no longer operational.
I will argue a point, no matter how small, until I feel in my mind that everyone in the room understands where I am coming from and why.
This created some pretty “interesting” discussions between my mother and I, since she was usually the only other person in the room.
“No, Falanya, I did NOT say that.”
“Yes, you DID!” is my usual excited reply.
“I’m not crazy mom! You said Barney was grape colored!”
“I did not and I will not continue this conversation with you.” Was her usual reply.
“He’s purple, mom. PURPLE!!” I almost scream.
But not too loud, because although I might be under the influence of steroids, I’m no dummy!
That woman, while laid up, sick in her bed, will still manage to slap the fluffiness right out of my chipmunk cheeks with lightening speed.

 Gnawing Hunger…

Have you ever felt your stomach writhe and cramp in pain as a result of hunger?
Now, let me ask you, have you ever felt this gnawing sensation in your gut with the presence of food?
Let’s say you have just eaten a full course meal with an appetizer and full dessert included. How do you usually feel?
I’m willing to wager that you can barely breathe let alone still be hungry!
Enter Prednisone.
Not only are you still hungry, but you are ravenously hungry and like a caveman you scavenge through the refrigerator for a small wildebeast to devour!
I may exaggerate a little, but I lie to you not!

Weird Fat Placement

This side effect goes hand in hand with the gnawing hunger.
Eat like an insatiable animal, sleep hours on end like you’re the King of the forest, and you will gain a fat pocket or two and in some interesting places.
My cheeks have puffed up a little but I don’t have the distinctive moon face that so many steroid users exhibit (unless I am in some serious denial here) but I do exhibit the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s hump at the base of my neck and across my shoulders.
Mom had this hump for years and I used to love teasing her about it.
So the moral of the story little boys and girls is that if you laugh at someone else’s deformity, the same deformity will be bestowed upon you.

Prednisone is both a blessing and a curse as far as I am concerned

I can most definitely attest to the fact that it has helped me to be much more active than I once was but I can’t help but to think, at what cost?
For now though, as new and weird side effects continue to pop up, causing me to become more of a freak of nature,
I won’t blame it on the Goose, blame it on the Vodka, blame it on the Henney or blame it on the ‘Tron.
I will look at my pill case and blame it on the Prednisone.
~Today is a Gift and it’s a Lupie Existence~

Falanya Curtis
A Lupie Existence