A Battle Against Me, Myself, and I

My nephrologist has not been happy with the progress, or lack of, in my protein levels found in my urine, so she has recommended increasing one of my strongest steroids, Prednisone to help kick start my new kidney medication. Prednisone is my least favourite of all my medications; it is the one that I experience the most side effects when on a high dose. We increased my dosage from 5mg/per day to 30 mg/per day, which I knew I would be experiencing a long list of side effects. These side effects include an increase in appetite, mood swings, fatigue, puffy face, acne, abdominal pain, and the list goes on.

I have been having a really difficult time coping with these side effects. I have put on some weight, especially in my face. I’ve got acne and feel like I’m sixteen again going through puberty. I feel moody and emotional all the time. I just don’t feel like myself. It makes me sad when I look in the mirror and am not happy with what and who I see. I don’t feel 100% there. It’s a constant battle with my meds, I take them to help my body, but then I don’t feel good mentally. I feel off. I lose my motivation, my energy, my drive to do things. I’m just ready to be back on my lower dose, and not experiencing such a mental struggle every day.

My nephrologist reassured me that in a few weeks we would start tapering my prednisone dose. That day could not come any sooner. As my prednisone dose gets lowered, the prevalence of the side effects will begin to fade as well, which is promising.

I just found out earlier this week that I have high cholesterol. This is something I honestly never thought I would ever have to worry about. High cholesterol does not run in my family and I eat pretty healthy day to day, especially considering I was vegan for almost 9 months- I was honestly stunned when my doctor told me. My nephrologist thought it would be good to do a cholesterol and blood sugar test now that my prednisone dose was very high, I had never done one before. She was expecting normal results because I am young and healthy. When she called with the results, she explained that it most likely was due to my kidney disease as that can affect cholesterol levels. She said that if I were a patient with no previous medical conditions, she wouldn’t be as hasty to start me on medications. But because I have lupus, the inflammation from lupus can perpetuate high cholesterol levels and can put patients at a much higher risk for atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Also, the fact that I have never done a cholesterol test before was very concerning as we could not know for certain how long I have had high cholesterol for. I see my GP next week to discuss the plan of attack, I am hoping I can convince him to let me try some natural cholesterol lowering medications for a few months while following my progress, before prescribing me medication.

I am trying to stay positive and patient during this time. I know it’s just another bump along the way, another test. I just need to find that inner strength to persevere through. I know I am my toughest critique, people say they don’t notice the weight gain or my acne, but I do. It’s just hard staying motivated when I know I am not my best version of me right now.