Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Almost cut my hair.

I should have phoned the hospital last friday. But, I didn't. I should have phoned the hospital yesterday. But, I didn't. I should have phoned them today. But, I haven't. Why? My, thankfully short-lived, drug-induced flare-up has settled down (touch wood. Not cloth.). My consultant wanted a week-on update from when I spoke to him mid-flare on friday 17th April. His advice at the time was to stop he salazopyrin and stick with the 20mg of prednisolone. So, now I'm just on the pred and all is well in colonville. So far, so good. But I know a call to the hospital will trigger a new appointment. And we're running out of drugs to discuss/try. And they're going to want to talk to me about coming off those preds.

Now, by my reckoning, it's been about 1 whole year of being on prednisolone. I had taken them a few times before (see May 08),over the previous 5 years, but this is by far and away the longest stint. It seems to me that people's reactions to this drug differ dramatically - clearly that depends on dose and length of use - so how am I doing after a year?

Beard
For me, prolonged use always precipitates the growth of the beard. I don't mean that I benefit from some kind of super-facial-hair-growth induced by the steroids. Sadly, the beard appears through personal vanity. It hides the inevitable steroid acne. Well, most of it. On my face. It's a hard decision: beard or acne? But after many years of pondering, the beard has won out.It looks something like this (pretty poor I'm sure you'll agree...)
And, yes, I am a geography teacher too...
Hair
Other than facial. This is weird: a few months ago (maybe 10 or 11) it started to fall out - or seemed to be falling out. When I washed it there would be far more hair in the shower than normal. Was it the steroids? Somebody (IBD Nurse) once told me that UC could lead to hair loss... but I've never read/seen that anywhere else. Anyway, it stopped. But now it has started again. And my hair's a bit longer, so I notice it more. There's still plenty left, so I'm not unduly worried. Yet.
Rage
Used to happen alot - days of choking back a huge knot of bilious rage burning inside me, literally looking for someone to start an argument with. Or taking it out on the wife and kids (just general shouting, no violence or anything). Nowawdays it comes and goes. Most of my friends are used to me ranting anyway, so this is just added amusement. The family don't have to suffer too often any more, though it does get the wife down sometimes. It is really very difficult to control. A couple of weeks ago I went into M&S to buy some pants. They are always all packaged up which makes it very difficult to judge how comfy they might be. So, I unpacked some to have a closer look. Whilst inspecting I noticed I was being watched by a very haughty looking M&S woman. She was probably well within her rights to keep an eye on the bearded weirdo unpacking pants but, before I could think the rage boiled, the red mist descended and I found myself thinking "COME ON THEN BRING IT ON COME AND HAVE A GO AT ME COME ONNNN..." and feverishy unpacking several other packs of pants... Fortunately the wife was there to drag me away before I had disappeared under a pile of tasteful boxers.
Shakes
Another symptom that comes and goes. On the whole this doesn't bother me. Until somebody points it out. Then I feel like some old gimmer...
Moon Face
I think I've got away without this one so far... Oh god, why did I type that?
Weight-gain
This is difficult to judge. Firstly, it is unclear to me whether steroids make you gain weight through water retention or increased appetite, or both. My usual healthy weight is about 12 stone (i'm 5'11") and I have pretty much flucuated around this mark for the past year. I lost a lot of weight when I had pnuemonia last feb, but got it back and have kept it on bar losing a few pounds here and there to the UC. This has perhaps helped to hinder any massive steroid ballooning. God knows that I have felt the effects of appetite increase. There have been days when the only thing stopping me eating everything in the house is that I have eaten everything in the house. One benefit of being on the steroids all year is that I haven't had much problem with the arthritis, so I've been able to play football much more regularly.
Those are the main side-effects in my steroid world. And this is the problem. If you ask me day-to-day which I would rather negotiate, symptoms of UC or the side-effects of the prednisolone, to me it's a no-brainer. If i could just get it down to 5 mgs a day again...

3 comments:

Martin said...

Ulcerative colitis AND ginger in the beard. Life can be so cruel.

msmachine said...

I have the beard starting and the acne. I can't use one to mask the other. I also have moon face so there is more surface for these nasty things! My tweezers and proactive solution are my new best friends.

Glad the flare is settling (touched wood).

Rich said...

Hello Martin - yeah, life sure kicks you when your down eh? I've asked my GP for a referral about the beard... but he didn't seem convinced it would help.

Hey MS, thanks. Hopefully your pred side effects will reduce now you're tapering off the pred. I'll keep my fingers crossed