I started a 12 day prednisone taper the other day. I just could not take the pain and the extreme fatigue that I have experienced for the past week and a half. The fatigue was so bad on Tuesday that I have no idea what my professor was talking about during my qualitative methods class.
I have a love-hate relationship with prednisone. Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with all the meds that I take for RA. All of them have done a good job of keeping the disease from progressing. My pain level is significantly lover. Most days, it's nonexistent. And, I've had fewer flares of the past couple of years. But, there are some serious side effects that I worry about. Prednisone can do some serious damage to the liver and stomach. Enbrel suppresses the immune system, making it easier to contract an infection. Those infections can be fatal, as in the case of Glenn Frey. Enbrel can also cause lymphoma. There are those who blame the meds for Glenn Fry's death. And, they are
partially correct. He was allegedly taking one of the biologic meds for
RA. He allegedly had pneumonia, which was taking a while to recover.
Of course, I am vigilant with getting my bloodwork done every 10 weeks. In fact, the people at the lab all know me, which comes in handy. I only use a prednisone taper if I absolutely have to do so. The last one I had was a year ago, and that was for a serious sinus infections. I do everything possible to keep myself healthy. My RA doc is amazing and she works with me to keep me in the best health possible.
Yet, I still get scared sometimes. It's not RA that kills you. It is the medications and the other problems that come with RA that can kill you. It's like those commercials you see on TV where the side effects of the medication sound worse than the disease? As I am in my 19th year of fighting (4 years not knowing and 15 years diagnosed) RA, I can't help but wonder how much longer my body will be able to handle all that the meds are doing to my body. I try to stay positive by looking at all of the good that resulted from my meds, i.e. running, no disease progression or joint damage. But, it's pretty scary sometimes.
I bet Glenn Frey had the same love-hate relationship with his meds as I do. The meds allowed him to ride the ebb and flow that is RA for a while without, I'm guessing, too much hassle. Maybe, like me, the benefit was greater than the risk. I don't regret taking these meds. I know the good they can do and the harm they can do. I don't think Glenn Frey had regrets either. With RA, it's about survival and living the best life you can.
Love it or hate it, we have to do what we need to do to survive..for as long as we can.