Too Sick to Keep Dr.’s Appts.

Yes, there have actually been times when I have not been well enough to keep scheduled medical appointments. Most ironic, isn’t it? A couple of years ago, I was going through the grueling process of completely discontinuing prednisone, the dreaded corticosteroid. Initially, I had been prescribed very high doses of this potent anti-inflammatory medication (40 mg. qd.). Prednisone has notorious side effects, including significant weight gain. (I”ll save my detailed discussion of those nasty side effects for another blog entry). Such side effects may be acceptable, nevertheless, in the context of decreased symptom severity. However, I experienced the worst of both worlds, so to speak: I developed multiple unpleasant side effects of prednisone, without experiencing the intended effects of this medication. Consequently, it’s not difficult to imagine why prednisone has been dubbed “Satan’s tic-tacs.” As a result of my response, my specialists wanted me to discontinue taking prednisone. When one takes prednisone, our adrenal glands are suppressed from manufacturing our intrinsic equivalent of this hormone. In order to “wake up” our bodies ability to resume its hormonal manufacture, the dose of prednisone much be carefully monitored as it is being decreased. The lower the dose of prednisone, the longer the tapering period that is required. In my case, discontinuing prednisone completely actually took a period of two full years. As my dose was successively decreased, the withdrawal symptoms that I experienced became more severe. I experienced bone-crushing fatigue, debilitating periods of severe depression, as well as generalized aching throughout my entire body. My need to keep seeing my multiple medical specialists did not disappear during this time, but my ability to keep my appointments was severely impacted. Ironically enough, my repeated appointment cancellations actually resulted in being discharged from an outpatient mental health clinic, where I was receiving treatment for depression! Given that this clinic was a full 100-mile round trip from my home, there were times that I simply could not keep my appointments. Talk about feeling like there is no way to go but up…

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