Some of you will remember the 1980s public service commercial where the man holds an egg in his hand and says, “This is your brain.” He then cracks it into a sizzling cast iron pan and says, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
I’m not sure if that campaign was effective at keeping that generation’s youth on the straight and narrow path, but prescribed medications are a part of the lives of 60 percent of the United States’ population. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re like me; told that you’re stuck being a part of this never-ending tug-o-war between having to take medication and worrying about potential complications.
I wrote in a previous post about the pressure that comes from friends and family who mean well but are misdirected in wanting me to get off the medications and go all natural. We know that it’s not that simple and that every case is different. Sometimes the benefits of the therapy outweigh its risks. But now and then, one of us lupies gets lucky, and our doctors say we can discontinue a prescribed medication. Cue thunderous applause!
My doctor recently had me wean off the corticosteroids I’ve been on for at least 10 years. I’m one-part hyped to be off them, but I’m also one-part terrified. It’s like my training wheels have been taken off, or I’m swimming without my life vest. As excited as I am about being well enough to try this next step, I’m worried that I will fail. I’ve been a little achy, and my fatigue is creeping up. I’m used to not feeling anything because the corticosteroids handled it all. But I was warned about this.
Fellow lupies, getting closer to being drug-free doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been healed and will be completely pain-free. People without chronic illnesses get achy and tired as well. Getting off your meds means your doctor believes your body can handle a bit more on its own. If the pain gets moderate to severe, I’ll definitely let my doctor know we might need to try something else. But for now, I can’t simply wait for the meds to make everything better. To give my body the tools it needs to fight lupus, I must take extra special care of my body, rest, eat well, and do other things that my body likes.
Well, my body is not completely on its own; I’m still on a few meds that aren’t as intense. I pray we move closer to a world where we can get off all of these prescriptions and live full and healthy lives. I think it can happen, but until that day, I’ll take the medications that help, adjust when necessary, and work with my doctor to find the best med mix and lowest doses that my body needs to optimally function. I won’t go completely drug-free until I know my entire medical team is on board.