Take it, they said.
It’ll make you feel better, they said.
It’s a wonder drug that saves lives!, they said.
What they didn’t say is how in ‘massive’ doses prednisone will also make you gain weight, lose your hair, develop ‘moon face’, discover new and intriguing pain each day that wasn’t there before, not sleep for days at a time, be a total basket case and have skin akin to a pubescent 13 year old…. -oh, did I forget to mention the constant fevers? Nausea? Head and jaw aches? Oh yes, boys and girls, all this and so much more…..
To be fair – it did alleviate some pain and it does save countless lives. It also can cause pain as a side effect, hospitalize you with adrenal failure if your taper isn’t aligned with every solar planet on the 3rd new moon with your left toes crossed and tongue twisted just right, cause memory problems, blood sugar instability, and the longer you are on it the more severe and detrimental it can be in the long term. It’s like exchanging one demon for another.. Gain your physical strength, but lose your sanity.
Prednisone is a corticosteroid – which in english means (in my case) it was used to shut down my immune system and adrenal glands in an effort to stop my body from attacking itself.
Now comes a little biology lesson on your handy, dandy, little adrenal glands! Don’t let their small size fool you; these powerful little hormone producing bean shaped glands above your kidneys manufacture and secrete almost 50 different hormones – including steroid hormones such as adrenalin, cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen and testosterone that are absolutely essential to your health and vitality. They not only significantly affect the functioning of every single tissue, organ and gland in your body; they also have important roles on the fluid balance control and blood sugar regulation. They even regulate how you think and feel and determine how your immune system functions.
Now, doesn’t that sound lovely?
So what does that mean then, when prednisone shuts down our little friends?
In my case, it meant having my face replaced with an acne ridden basketball, absolutely zero ability to cope with every day life and stresses, constant ‘mystery’ pains throughout my body, severe and extreme insomnia, catching every and any ‘thing’ that was going around, continuous fevers, and as the proverbial icing because of the high dose I was on it also destroyed and leeched all the calcium from my teeth – so I am now looking at my future of having to get dentures before my 30th birthday.
Have you ever had a vivid, terrifying dream but much like in a bad horror movie, you can see and hear the monster, watching as the disastrous end is coming, however when you try to scream out a warning, no words come out?
It’s a LOT like that. Eerily like that. They say that crazy people don’t know that they are crazy… However, with prednisone you are fully well aware just how completely and utterly crazy you are – and yet can’t do a single damned thing about it.
I was one high-strung, fun filled little ball of psycho! I would refer to myself as Seniorita Psychopants, or Captain Crazypants – depending on the day and my ever-changing roller coaster ride of a mood. 🙂
Against my better / more intelligent judgement, but in the hopes that others stuck taking high doses of prednisone and experiencing the same no longer feel so alone, I’m going to share one of the (many) low points midst the 6.5 months I was on 90mg’s of prednisone a day. It looked a little like this…….
Early summer and the sun was shining with a cool, gentle breeze. The air smelled of crisp, fresh rain and you could hear the distant sounds of children giggling and laughing at a nearby playground.
I went to shower – Zed put in a load of laundry and there was no hot water.
I went to make coffee (nectar of the god’s and as vital as air!), and of course when I ask Zed where the coffee was hiding he looks dejected and mutters……
“Oh… I knew I meant to pick something up and couldn’t remember what” as he shuffles his feet awkwardly and gives me a look that can only be described as similar to a garden mole that has just looked up to realize he was nose to nose with a giant, starving, and slightly rabid Siberian tiger.
I decide to try to find something to eat, as my DM is acting up and the foods I can actually eat, and low and behold, out of everything in the fridge the ONE thing Zed has chosen to eat earlier that day was the one food I could actually eat in the house.
I give up on eating.
So, I figure I will make a chai tea latte. I burn the milk, spill the chai concentrate and break a glass, all in a 5 minute time period. I give up on drinking.
Deep breathes.. Count to 10… just breathe.
Walk away. Just walk away.
In the mean time, I am running an hour late leaving my place to go grab my mom for her errands I promised her. So. Off we go to hit the ground running.
I had just picked my Mom up to take her to grab some groceries, and on the drive was telling her all about my no-good, terrible, very bad day. About how I had been fighting with Zed all day because in his absent minded, selfishness he had consumed all of the only food in the house at the time I could actually eat without getting violently sick, about how everything I touched, did, or even came in the general vicinity of went horribly sideways the entire day.
We traipse through the grocery store, getting my Mom’s various items, and my eyes light up and gleam as they meet the Starbucks sign in the corner of the store. I sigh loudly and smile at the thought that if nothing else, I could end the no-good, terrible, very bad day with a nice, piping hot, cinnamon dolce latte. I hum softly to myself as I wait for my delicious latte to be made, afterwards having a wee bit of a pep in my step that had been absent all day.
After settling in the vehicle and bracing myself for my first positive of the day / reason for existence, I take a sip of my wonder-latte; and promptly burst into tears. I don’t mean gentle sobbing, I mean full throttle, uncontrollable bawling. My Mom starts to panic – she is frantically pleading with me, trying to coerce me into forming a comprehensible sentence (or even word at the least) to communicate what earth shattering catastrophe just turned my world upside down.
Finally I manage to blubber: “Mom… the…. they… they forgot the cinnamon dolce syrup”, in the most pathetic voice you could ever possibly imagine, stuttered and stammered through quivering lips and wet, red, swollen eyes.
My Mom instantly gets the ‘Mom’ look set on her face (EVERYONE knows THAT look) and huffs, “I may not be able to do anything else, but this…. THIS I can fix!” as she marches my latte back into the store, jovially returns it and sweetly asks for it to be remade.
By the time my Mom returned with the latte not even the salt from my copious amounts of tears could ruin it.
We pull up to her house, I slide my e-brake into the active position….. and I realize for the first time that entire day – I forgot to put on underwear.
And that, my friends, is just a smidge of a glimpse into the fun filled, terrifying clown house that is prednisone. 🙂