Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prednisone: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's been about four weeks since my liver rejection episode and it appears that things are steadily improving. My lab results are trending in the right direction (numbers are falling) and while bilirubin, ALT, AST, GGT, alkaline and the rest are still notably out of range, they are vastly improved from a month ago.

So the waiting game continues, with plenty of medication juggling to compensate for the liver issues and to accommodate changes caused by prednisone, the steroid I'm taking. I can't recall taking steroids in the past, so it's been quite an eye-opener.

Unfortunately, prednisone isn't going to give me a ripped physique. Yet I'm not gaining weight, either, which commonly happens, so I don't mind foregoing the muscles. Here's how prednisone has affected me so far, along with some of its other potential side effects:
Blood sugar - Mine is OUT OF CONTROL. Whether I eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream or a handful of plain lettuce, my blood sugar can jump to 300+ (or more). I take long-lasting insulin twice a day and short-acting insulin three or four times. I watch what I eat, as before, but need the extra insulin to keep my blood sugar in check.

Blood pressure - Had to increase my blood pressure medication.

Energy - This is a good news/bad news side effect. Steroids give you energy (no wonder athletes like them! however, they take a different type of steroid) and most days I can get more done than I have since my transplant. The flip side of this coin is that I have even more trouble sleeping. The result is that I have several really good days and then I'm wiped out.

Acne - The ridiculous back, shoulder, arm acne. Thankfully, don't have this and pray it doesn't pop up. As I told my transplant coordinator, this side effect could be a deal breaker.

Fluid retention - My ankles and feet have been retaining fluid off and on for a couple of weeks now. My doctor prescribed diuretics, but has pulled me off them due to other issues. Thankfully, the swelling is intermittent and seems to abate without the meds within a day or two.

Mood swings - I've experienced this, too, but thankfully not often. The moods seem to manifest mostly when I'm talking to a customer service rep at my insurance company or online retailer or something of that nature.
There's an informative web page on the Mayo Clinic site that offers a good overview of corticosteroids, including prednisone. It's been a good starting resource for me.

Photo by Patryk ChoiƄski

1 comment:

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

I am happy to hear your numbers are changing. I told my wife that your ALT and AST were through the ceiling and she shrieked. I am hoping things continue working for you in the best of ways.