Side effects include buffalo hump, moon face, and extreme hiccups. I wish I were making this up.
How To Survive Prednisone For An MS Attack
As a long time multiple sclerosis patient with very active disease, I’ve had way too much experience with the roller-coaster ride that is treating an MS relapse with IV prednisone (solu-medrol). While these steroids can produce impressive results, they also prove that if something seems too good to be true, it’s probably gonna give you acne. It’s definitely gonna make you constipated.
How to handle the side-effects of prednisone
I never leave my first prednisone infusion without a prescription for something like ranitidine (to kick the stomach acid) and something (strong) to help with sleep. I usually ask for horse tranquilizers and get a dirty look. Worth it. The side effects of steroids are well known, but some docs wait until you call back the next day because you’ve been awake for 26 hours, before they offer you an Rx. Don’t suffer.
Some find their appetites increase on prednisone, and that sucks extra for them, because steroids make everything taste like poison. I always have a painful tummy so I keep crackers, dry toast, and ginger ale on hand. If you’re fancy, homemade bone broth is better than packaged soups, because of the sodium, which you wanna avoid because things are about to get real puffy. If you can’t put down the Miss Vickies because you love salt like I do, just know that your face is gonna look like a pie for awhile and accept it.
For the first time ever, I don’t mean booze. You have to hydrate like hell with actual H2O because prednisone means water retention. Like, stay out of the rain or you will probably absorb and retain that too. In addition to all the water-weight, this drug is constipating AF so try to get ahead of that. Whatever your bowel routine is, double it.
Stuff to read
When I’m wide awake in the middle of the night, it’s tempting to turn on my laptop and write. Or read gossip blogs. Or shop. I’m feeling wired and creative and a little bit sorry for myself, like I at least deserve a new lipstick, maybe some shoes, just for having to go through these things. Resist. Screen time in the middle of an insomnia attack is def going to encourage wakefulness longer than flipping though a magazine or reading a book will. Sleep is essential to healing, so it’s important to keep the tech turned off.
We covered pie-face, but my normal alabaster complexion has a tendency to turn fever-red on this drug, and steroids at this dose can cause photo-sensitivity, meaning easy burns. If you’re a pasty-faced, day-walker like I am, make sure to wear your SPF 60 even if you’re only out for a quick minute. Then again, if you’re also lazy like I am, just don’t go outside.
Don’t skip your regular meds. This isn’t a drug vacation. I know, sometimes I’m just so sick of putting pills in my mouth all day. But it’s important to stick to your routine. Talk to your doc about adding a calcium supplement. Steroids can turn your bones to dust. You still need your bones.
Don’t trust your emotions when you’re on prednisone. And maybe warn your friends and family. Everything is more intense, and on top of it, you’re having a relapse. Know it’s the powerful drugs coursing through your system and don’t dwell on it. If you do lose your shit and bring the drama, you have an out. Blame it on the drugs and apologize. You weren’t you.
This is a WTF symptom that sometimes happens on steroids. I don’t know how to fix this, but the good news is there are actual hiccup support groups for people taking solu-medrol. I mean, if you have MS, hiccups are probably the least of your problems. Then again, when I have hiccups, I make a big fucking deal about it. I cry real tears and ask why everything bad happens to me. Then I plug my nose and chug a glass of water until I’m sure I’m about to drown. If I survive, I log onto JCrew and buy a dress, because I’ve just been through hell and I deserve it.
You might feel like cleaning the gutters, rotating your tires, moving a piano, I don’t know what you’re into, but this is artificial energy and you will have to pay it back. Remember, your body is healing and you need rest to let it recover. As tempting as it is, try not to do the thing (that is to say, all the things) we all want to do the second we feel that unfamiliar boost of strength or energy.
Especially in early relapsing remitting disease (RRMS), steroids can feel like they’re working miracles, but remember, they’re not a cure, and are only prescribed to get you through an attack faster by reducing inflammation. If you’re having a relapse and getting this treatment, hang in there. This too shall pass.