I have been low for a while now. I can handle one, even two or three life challenges at a time. But recently, I definitely have had been pushed to the extreme, with multiple health issues, and then life after life struggles too. I am getting by, but not without multiple cries a day, lots of cuddles with my cat, and a beautiful little girl keeping me going – who heard me crying in the shower the other day, came to me and asked in her sweet, little voice, “Mommy? Why are you crying?” (Lesson Learned – the shower does not muffle my cries enough.)
Where do I even begin? Maybe at my toes and work my way up?
As much as I hoped and prayed that the third time trying to decrease the prednisone past 10 mg would be successful, it didn’t work. Once I hit 7.5 mg this time, not only did the ankle swelling return quite quickly, but so did the welts on my legs where my fat tissue becomes inflamed and super sore. For a while there, I really believed that the third time trying with a more tapered decrease would do it. And I would get off the prednisone and skip off into the sunset, drug free. When I saw my rheumatologist on Friday, this was the time when she said we couldn’t wait any longer. I have now been on prednisone for 11 months. The original plan was 6 months. This time she really spoke to the need of getting me off the prednisone, and mentioned the long term damage it can have and how we are running the risk of that now. So, because my legs flare up each time we decrease, I have now started taking Imuran. It’s an immune suppressant drug, and the idea is that instead of the prednisone treating the inflammation, the Imuran will stop by body from causing the symptoms in the first place. Sounds good, right? In theory. Imuran has some of it’s own major side downsides, such as affecting your liver, lowering your white blood cell count, making you susceptible to any other form of infection or sickness, and increasing chances for certain forms of cancer. Because of this, I start at lower doses for two weeks and get weekly blood work to monitor. If things go well, and I don’t see any other obvious side effects like a rash or vomiting, then we up the dose, wait a couple weeks, and then up it again, holding that dose steady for the next few months. Imuran takes about 2-3 months to take effect, so what we will try to do is get my legs “normal” at 10 mg of prednisone, and then begin decreasing by 1 mg, every couple weeks, if don’t get any flare-ups. But my doc did not want to take another chance of trying another prednisone taper, with no back-up, and then losing that time before starting Imuran anyways. If all goes as plan, I can get off the prednisone and only be on the Imuran for about 6 months. Wish me luck.
If that wasn’t enough, I found out that results from my recent pap smear show abnormal cells. If left untreated, cells that could turn to cervical cancer. The good news is that my cells are at the lowest stage of abnormal, and the statistics of removing the cells are high, and lots of women have treatment and then normal pap smears in years following. Both my family doc and the gynecologist she referred me to said I should be able to have the procedure of removing the cells within a few weeks. Turns out the earliest appointment I could get was December 20th. So, fingers crossed that in the next half a year, those cells don’t go crazy and morph quicker than they can be taken out! I am doing ok with this news, as the stats are positive, but like c’mon, do I really need to be dealt this too?
And then I guess we get to my head and where I am mentally. Besides the obvious health issues mentally draining me, I have been faced with changes in friendships and relationships, that have really gotten me down. I am questioning my career happiness. It just seems like all areas of me are really heavy right now. And I miss my mom terribly.
It doesn’t help that I feel so alone through this all. I do need to pay respect to the wonderful friends that I do have though. In the last little while, I am blessed to have some close friends and family recognize my struggles, and check in with me. Whether it’s a text asking how I am doing, or taking time for a phone call, or just sending me something to make me giggle. And for that I am very appreciative. But I will admit I long for a constant support. Someone to come home to each day who is there to listen and get a good-old fashioned hug. Now, my cat is there at the door each day when I get home, but she can’t drive to the store for me when I really need some Haagen Dazs. And she sleeps in my clean laundry basket, which just makes more laundry for me to do.
I keep myself in check by running through the questions my therapist used to ask me to gauge my level of potential depression. I still want to shower each day, so I am doing ok in that sense. And I can still find joy in the things I love. Check. Check.
But man, oh, man. What I would give for some time with my mom right now. Just to smell her. And feel her hands. And listen to her voice. I would give my left lung…