Zen and the Art of Prednisone Weaning

October 2, 2006 at 1:51 pm (Uncategorized)

I re-read my last entry, and was impressed by the amazing balance of its author. Really, her ability to revel in the small victories – a milligram of prednisone here, a few extra months away from a doctor there – without worrying about cures and the big, bad picture, is admirable. “That woman truly has her psychological shit together,” I thought, before remembering, “Wait. I wrote that. And I meant it.”

Directly next door to the Zen Woman who wrote my last entry lives her disfigured twin, the “Get me off this freaking drug right freaking now” Woman. They share space in my brain. Right after I got my good news in Philadelphia, Zen Woman was the first to come out and bask on the front lawn of my consciousness. She calmly waved an incense stick of patchouli, and proclaimed that the harmonious whole will be fine. Since then, though, I have dropped exactly 1.5 mg. of prednisone, and in the process, have developed full body aches that feel as though someone has been twisting my ligaments while I sleep. I’m also having to take another round of antibiotics for my Sinus Infection Without End. Hence, the lack of one drug, as well as the addition of another, are making me feel like barfing, but carefully, so as to not disrupt my bones.

Perhaps it’s come across in past entries that patience is not my best quality. I think the forces of the universe (to the extent that they track such things) must find it highly ironic that I, of all people, came down with a chronic disease. I don’t do chronic. At least not well. I am the youngest sibling of four, and I spent my summers running to keep up with my two older brothers and sister. I learned early on that you’d better be snappy if you want to stay with the pack, and that waiting patiently for something isn’t going to make it happen. I even wrote a horrendous poem in tenth grade lambasting the “golden virtue” of patience in highly overwrought metaphors.

I feel like I’ve accomplished a few things in my life by seizing opportunities where and when I find them. But I’m ill-equipped to pace myself. When I was thirteen, I decided I was going to be a bicycle racer. Countless trips to the velodrome, sneers from lecherous older cyclist men, and hard falls to the asphalt didn’t deter me. Eleven months later, I was racing in the National Championships in Seattle. Four years later, I just as precipitously decided I had had enough of seven hour training rides and sub-ten percent body fat, and I quit. Notice the lack of a “taper?” When we moved to Palau, I decided I wanted to teach, so I plagued the administrators at the community college until they signed me on. Then I taught near the maximum load for a few semesters until we moved back to the States. Full steam ahead.

Now I’ve had the tantalizing goal of being off prednisone dangled in front of me. And I want off. Now. Right now. Yesterday, in fact. Yes, I know why this taper is being constructed at such a maddeningly slow pace – the last time they dropped my levels more rapidly, the sarcoidosis flared right back up. But, damn, I want off this drug. If I’m going to ache and feel like I have the flu from a measly 1.5 mg. decrease, why not be more aggressive and knock off 5 mg. at a time? Why not just stop altogether?

I counsel my inner thirteen year old itching to take a spin around the track that full-out sprints don’t always win the race. Think of a good NFL team, I tell myself. More often than not, they win a game not by winging a fifty-yard pass into the end zone, but by dinking and dunking the ball a couple yards here, a few yards there, steadily progressing down the field. They focus on simply moving the chains until the force of their momentum carries them into the end zone. Or so I tell myself. Over and over again. Zen Woman clucks her tongue at “Get me off this freaking drug right freaking now” Woman and says, “Day at a time” and reminds her of a sign I saw the other day: “Long doesn’t mean forever.”

But it sure feels like it.

1 Comment

  1. Paul said,

    hang in there Zen Woman

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