Raise your hand if you are currently taking or have ever taken prednisone for lupus? Yup - just as I thought. A sea full of hands!
I, of course, have been on (and blogged about) prednisone for the majority of my life with lupus. I was able to go off of the drug completely for about 2 years, while I was on CellCept (note I was on CellCept a total of three years - 1 year with prednisone, and then 2 without). Currently, I'm on 5mg of prednisone every other day, and am loving life. According to my doctor, it's not a high enough dose to cause any real damage, and 5mg is just enough to keep me pretty much pain-free while not bringing with it any of those crazy side effects. And per doctor's orders, I'm able to add a fiver (a 5mg pill, that is) every once in awhile on my non-prednisone days, if I'm feeling crummy. And again, I'm happy with that. Gives me a little leeway, and allows me to really judge how I'm feeling from one day to the next. So bring on the 5's - I'm happy right here!
That said, I've had my fair share of high prednisone doses. I was on as much as 80 mg a day - not for more than a couple of weeks at a time, but long enough to see if it would rid the fluid from the lining of my lungs (which was an unfortunate negative). But 60 mg a day was the only thing that seemed to work for awhile - and I'm telling you - that is a lot of prednisone! 20mg was about the norm for me, but anytime I was on the drug, my doctor was always being strategic about how we were going to get down to a lower amount. And while I was always so proud when I was able to get down to a lower dose (even 5mg less made a difference), I started shaking in my boots when I would near the 10mg mark, because I knew what was in store. My body, for whatever reason, did not like going below 10mg. At all. I would be on 10mg daily, without a pain or a hitch, and then per doctor's orders, I'd try stepping down by 2.5mg, and it would be flare city. It was like I hadn't taken any medication at all!
It took a couple of years (along with a good dose of patience, understanding, and re-evaluating of expectations) before I could go lower than 10mg. And once I did - you'd thought I'd won the lottery! I was so proud of myself - not for just being able to shave off a few milligrams, but because I had been patient with myself. I hadn't rushed the process. Rather, I'd consistently tried to wean off the drug, but if my body told me it wasn't ready, I wouldn't push (which is so unlike me.) I just waited, and worked on other parts of my life with lupus (getting enough rest, not working too much, not overexerting.) I thought that if the other aspects of my life came into balance, then maybe those 10 little milligrams wouldn't have to work so hard - and my body eventually wouldn't need them. And you know what? It worked!
So now that you know the dance I've done with prednisone, I'll ask you to share yours. What's your magic dose of prednisone - or should I say, your "stumbling dose"? The dose where you're body says, "Whoa, there!" and suddenly seems to freak out if you go below it.
Let me know by casting your vote in the poll at the right. I'm hoping I'm not alone in my weaning woes!