With Rheumatoid Arthritis, prednisone can be a friend, but at some point it is time to say goodby to that friend.
I see my Rheumatologist every six week. She is great. She checks all my joints, listens to my issues, and discusses my treatment plan and progress. I have sero-negative RA. About 20% of RA patients are sero-negative. Dr. R told me that with sero-negative patients, some have an undiagnosed CA. So tests are performed looking for the CA. She feels that I have RA and not CA. The fact that I respond to prednisone is a strong indicator.
Currently I am on 10 mg of prednisone. I have been on it for 6 months. I was given a 30mg burst in February. I responded. It helped me. Now it is time to start reducing the dose. Dr. R reduced it to 7.5mg which caused an awful flare: PAIN! I had a hard time believing that 2.5mg would make such a difference. But I decided to up it to 10mg again to see if it did. It does.
I emailed Dr R to see if she minded me reducing 1 mg at a time. She sent the script to the pharmacist for 1mg tabs so that I could reduce by 1mg a month. It should work. I have taken it a step further. I started the reduction at 9.5mg. I will keep that dose for 2 weeks and then reduce to 9mg for 2 weeks.
Prednisone can cause problems with blood pressure and with blood sugar. Both are fine for me. Prednisone can also cause osteoporosis. I have good bones but don’t want to start having this problem. I have had a puffy face and fat in weird places. This is a tradeoff I can live with.
I consider prednisone a friend. It has been helpful to me. Now it is time to get the dose down. Sneaking up on my body 1mg or even .5 mg at a time should work. Some people stay on 5mg for a long time. I need to get to 5mg before Dr R can tell me what is next.
In between appointments I have to show up at the lab for regular blood work. The tests include a CBC with differential, comprehensive metabolic panel, C-reactive protein and Sedimentation rate. The tests monitor any changes in my blood cells, liver function and inflammation in my body. I am doing well in that department.
Next month I also have an evaluation with a physical therapist. I have a thyroid biopsy with an endocrinologist. I have been tested for Hashimoto’s Disease, another autoimmune disorder. I don’t have it. Telling people I have Hashimoto’s disease would sound so much more exotic than saying I have RA. However, I have to say I have RA.
Prednisone has given me relief of symptoms. Some reports say it also helps slow the disease progression. I appreciate what prednisone has done for me. I will keep it in my arsenal. However, it is time to give prednisone a smaller role in my treatment plan.