Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No, Actually Heather, the Devil Poops Prednisone

Moon Face. Buffalo Hump. Truncal Fat. No, I'm not making these words up, they are just a few of the physical side effects of my arch nemesis: Prednisone. What the heck is "Truncal" anyway? I'm guessing it's that cushy little muffin top I've developed in the two and a half weeks I was on Prednisone. I've also got a little moon face and buffalo hump going on. Let's just say I'm not feeling my very best.

This drug is no joke and if it weren't for the seriousness of the circumstances under which it is prescribed to me, I would NEVER take it again. The doses that I am put on initially are higher than anyone I've ever heard of or read about and in those first couple weeks (while I'm on it) I feel great. I have loads of energy, feel pretty happy, and my vision begins to clear up. And then...

When taking Prednisone, you have to be tapered off of it because your body stops making Cortisol (the stress hormone) after two weeks and becomes dependent on it. This is the tricky part. The last time the doctors took longer to taper me off of it and decreased the dosage slowly. This time around it was all done within a week. I didn't think much of it, just following doctors orders, until the first day off of it as I stood in my kitchen and started shaking all over. That was just the beginning of the party.

I think in the course of a couple of hours I had cried, screamed at everyone several times ( probably because their shoes weren't all lined up neatly in a row {wink wink}), had a near panic attack, and then felt more tired than I had years. I lay down at 5:00 and was in bed for the night. Look at me! I'm a party and a half! Throw in some Geritol and I'm your Grandma!

The next day was pretty much the same except that the anger and waves of rage had subsided and were replaced with good old fashioned melancholy. I felt like Eyeore, and I can't stand Eyeore. In the back of my mind I knew it was all from the medicine but it just felt so much more extreme than last time.

But then again, who really knows what happened during that episode. Time is like a rock polisher and my memories are the rocks placed inside the vault of time. It spins and spins and as the memories tumble through time their edges are softened and their surfaces become smooth. A funny little story to tell the children and a page in family lore. I seem to forget all the heartache and pain and everything seems not so bad. Just like child birth. But right now. Right. Now? It sucks.

I went to the doctor to see if there was any other medicine they could give me to offset this awful come down ( which can last months) and he basically told me to suck it up. I'm going to be OK. It will be a gradual process and I won't just all of the sudden wake up one day and magically feel better, but it WILL happen. And while I kind of knew all of this already, it was comforting to hear a professional confirm that I am not losing my mind, that what I've been through is traumatic to my body and that there are serious side effects to some of this medication. Like Buffalo Hump. Or losing your mind.

When did everything become soooooo serious?!?!

I remember lying on the grass outside my friend Jennifer's parent's house in Jackson, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I had no home to return to, no clothes, no stuff. I just was. There was no water and no electricity. So we sat outside on the grass, underneath the scorching Mississippi sun and we laughed. We laughed about nothing and everything. I made shadow puppets on the wall and talked in silly voices and we laughed some more. Because sometimes, that's all you can do. Or else you'll cry.

As I sat on the couch in my pool of sadness, some of it a side effect of the medicine, some of it my own doing, I wondered how I had drifted so far from the girl who laughed and made shadow puppets on the wall. What had changed in me to make me so different? It seemed ironic that as time softened my memories, life's bumps seemed to have hardened my being. But then I remembered something that made me smile and forget about the truncle fat for a little while. I remembered what I already knew. And that's what remembering is really, isn't it? Recalling something we have forgotten. It was this: I may have no control over my circumstances. And often I don't. But I do have control over my attitude. So I choose to be happy.

Even when my body is telling me otherwise: that I'm sad, that I can't get out of bed, that I'm not going to be ok, I will tell it shut it's moon face right up. That doesn't mean I don't listen to the physical things. Yeah, I learned that the hard way the other day when I met with my trainer and did what would have been a fairly easy hour workout pre-this whole mess. Near the end my body started shaking and I began to feel dizzy. I threw up twice and was in bed with nausea and migraines for most of the day afterwards. So, yes I'll listen to my body, just not when it tells me lies about myself.

So I lounged in a hammock with my girls and we laughed about nothing and everything. I talked in silly voices and they made up their own and we laughed some more. A few moments out of time but eternal in the lessons learned from them.

I know this healing process is a slow one. But my hope is that I can remember to take each day and within each day, each challenge, both physical and mental, and overcome them with objective thought. And laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. And maybe some shadow puppets.


Damyon said...

Bravo! Don't take any crap from the devil. I send you all my best wishes for a great recovery.

Kayel Justice said...

My moms going thru some crazy thoughts her anxiety is multiplied, she's the toughest person I know next thing I know she's worried about everything. Prednisone has to be the reason since this started when she started taking it. It looks like the worst drug out right now. Who the heck would approve such a harmful thing. I guess the same people who issued HIV infected drugs to other countries. You cant trust anyone nowadays, especially companies that benefit from your dollars and fear