[Sober Living] Tripping On “Prednistwo”

Compared to my previous 6-day taper [taking 30mg on day one, 30mg, 20mg, 20mg, 10mg, then finally 10mg], this round of Prednisone is intense. It could just be the music. I’m feeling that ‘roid rage much more intensely than I did before. It could be the coffee. As long as I know it’s a biochemical reaction in my body, I can work through it. It’s the medicine fixing whatever is broken. Let’s explore these sensations.

Day 1, Dose 1
January 15, Wednesday, 7:50pm
I’m feeling like everything’s in hyperdrive.

I’m listening to Lê Huy Hoàng. It’s an audio recording of Hoàng talking about his experiences in a war between Vietnam and Cambodia but it’s obscured by street sounds and unnecessary electronic noise. I wrote about it in my 2020 Album Review Game, drawing from the frustrating experiences I’ve had trying to follow conversations when [ELECTRONIC NOISE CRASH] and those interruptions prevent my entire understanding of the conversation.

Otherwise, I’m free from headaches currently.

It feels fantastic to not have a sort of constant, constricting, lumbering, lingering, overwhelming, oppressive pain. We really do take our healths for granted. I’m having a bit of trouble concentrating, but that’s probably just because the tonal sounds of this guy talking are hard to follow. While I can say a few words or phrases in Vietnamese, I can’t listen to Vietnamese or Khmer or any other language and follow the conversation to any degree of fluency. When I was getting my new glasses today, two people were talking in, perhaps, Vietnamese and they had that certain privacy in public we should all be able to enjoy.

OK, so I don’t feel that frustrated overall.

Now that I’m listening to the calmer sensations of the MIDI beats from tracks 13 through 101 of 30 Wit A Hammer by Lil B, my mind might just be under less chaos trying to interpret what was being spoken in the background. I have a few other things I want to do while I use the computer for now. I’ll probably check-in and check-out of this essay at regular intervals. I was going to include timestamps, but I’ll just include the starting type at the start of each day and maybe just make a note at the end that I’m not writing the entire time from start to finish like I would normally do for these sorts of essays.

Shout out to Collector for the title, by the way.

I’ve been happy with writing this “Tripping On [The American Healthcare System]” series. It’s given me a chance to explore the sensations I’ve been going through when I take some of these medications. Writing about Ondansetron gave me the potency to summon up the anger to have been prescribed it once again, after I told the Emergency Department doctor I had experienced nausea while taking the anti-nausea medication, to get an alternate prescription. I didn’t get mad at either the nurse I told it to, who was initially confused because it’s supposed to treat nausea, or Doctor-Number-Seven, but I had to summon that inner courage to stand up for myself.

This is usually why it’s better to go with someone.

A few years ago, I had to go to the Emergency Department. I was reminded of this because I wasn’t in my right headspace at the time. Midway through going in, I had a nurse try to ask me to sign for things when I was barely cognizant. I was blocked by the family member that basically told the nurse to go to hell and when I was reminded of the event, he was still disturbed by that nurse’s behavior. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my four years in healthcare IT, working behind the scenes, it’s that some gnarly shit goes on to get your gnarled shit back on track.

Going by myself through all of this has been useful, I guess.

Day 2, Dose 2
January 17, Friday, 12:13am.
My back’s been hurting. At least it’s not my head.

I took the second dose when I woke up around 2pm and was just working on my backlog of things until I got to writing this at just after midnight.

The insurance company checked in with me. I’ll paste in what I wrote, redacting only sensitive information.

Hi,

Thanks for checking in.

The confusion over the PCP is minor, [wherein they were going to accidentally book me for a primary care physician outside my network], if insignificant, as long as, if going forward, I don’t have to worry about having a PCP outside of my network, then I’m all good.

For my overall symptoms:

Before, my tension headaches were an average of a 5/10 from December 28th until I went into the ER. Now they’re at a 0/10.

I am still getting the occasional little pang of a hypertension headache, or whatever this is actually called, but that’s probably just because I’ve been moving around for the first time in over two weeks so my body is probably just tired.

I am a fairly active individual, so being essentially immobile and physically weak for the past two weeks has been difficult on me. I am noticing a big amount of tension and stress in my back, but it’s probably just because I haven’t used many of my back muscles to any degree in weeks. I’ll wait for the neurologist to determine if there is any spinal issues that might necessitate a chiropractor.

I went to get a new prescription when I picked up the prednisone. My migraines with aura now might happen once or twice a day for just a momentary flash and the migraines without aura are nearly nonexistent. I am working through these mild headaches by closing my eyes for a few seconds to a minute or two depending on the severity.

But, overall, I am so happy to be thinking clearly again!

Hopefully, meeting with the neurologist next week will help ensure that things remain this way. It was so difficult for me in mid-December to attempt to articulate how it was like slowly losing my sense of reality. I told my colleagues in early December after the first round of prednisone that having headaches is like what happened to Charlie with his IQ in Flowers for Algernon, and when that was lasting for over two weeks, I was beginning to worry I’d never feel able to think coherently for more than a few minutes again.

So, overall, any sort of mild headache I experienced this morning and restlessness that prevented me from getting a good amount of sleep are minor in comparison to just a few days ago.

Best,
Anthony

That about summarizes it.

I feel much better, but I’m not out of the woods yet.

I’m going to try to do something more relaxing, for now, to see if my back pains will fade into my subconscious or disappear. I didn’t get much sleep yesterday. Only about four hours. I woke up at around 2pm, which is quickly becoming a usual occurrence for me. It’s frustrating, but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t feel tired enough to go to sleep. So here I am, listening to some generic 2020 album, catching up on some writing, then deciding what to do with my time. I’ll check back in later. It’s 12:20am.

It’s 9:35am. I read then closed my eyes and slept on the floor, so I slept until around 6am, then did some more physical projects for a few hours. My back still hurts, and my head still feels like it’s inflamed, or it feels like there’s a bit too much pressure in it, but compared to before, I’ll take it! It’s 9:36am.

Day 3, Dose 3
January 17, Friday, 7:36pm
I was starting to feel like I was going to get better…

I had a pang behind my right eye about one hour ago.

The more I learn about myself and others, the more I find my distraction points, and one of the major ones for me was sitting at the computer and watching videos. I still like to do this, but what I’ll do now is add videos onto my Watch Later list then clear them out by the oldest, based on the mindset of ‘if my health won’t hold out for years, but rather if today were the only healthy day I have for weeks, would I want to watch this?’

If no, remove it from the list.

I also need to learn to balance working on the computer and working on other aspects of my life, so I cleared out some projects that I worked on this morning. I have some other essays going that don’t relate exactly to digital content. After I’m done with this section, I am going to jump over to a first-impressions style review of Eizouken, an anime about three girls that want to make anime, which brings this seeming tangent back into focus.

Eizouken makes me glad I can still watch anime.

I won’t include this section in that essay because it’s too heavy, but over the past few weeks, I wondered if I would ever have coherency and mental clarity again. Would my life just be a series of pangs and pains? Fortunately, in these last three days, I’ve been able to feel relatively normal, and it’s fantastic. I don’t want to take this life for granted anymore. A show like this, with its magic and wonder, really makes me happy to know is something I can watch and rewatch.

That’s all for now. It’s 7:42pm.

Day 4, Final Dose [excluding pre-Day 1’s Emergency Department dose]
January 17, Saturday, 7:41pm
I’m not getting better…

I told people at work about my situation.

I told them that I was looking forward to the headaches returning after this last dose, but as life has its way of kicking our asses without empathy, within one hour at work, my tension headache was back and by the end of my shift my spine was hurting and I was feeling like if I sat down then I’d just pass out. I got home and felt better. But it was a deceptive “better.” So I took three diphenhydramine to knock myself out and other than waking up at 3pm for whatever reason [maybe that’s when the downstairs neighbors get home?], I woke up feeling alright.

I’d accept this sort of headache until I see the neurologist.

I’m still feeling those pangs of hypertension and I won’t row because I don’t want to gamble with my health, but I’m feeling OK. I’ll write a few more thoughts about how things are going after the prednisone completely leaves my body, but for now, I’m feeling OK.

Am I allergic to the stress at work, then?

Day 5, Post-Last Dose
January 18, Sunday, 8:24am
The prednisone has definitely not fixed the problem.

One of my supervisors told me that there’s a lifetime effectiveness of prednisone.

I couldn’t find any medical information around that, but I can definitely feel that this time around, it was only somewhat effective. Maybe what was more effective was the IV drip and having a few days off? It’s been rough at work, but I have to stick it out for a few more days, until things get sorted out with the neurologist.

Prednisone is no longer a miracle medication for me. Oh well.

Endtable:
Quotes: If there are, I’ll cite them in-line.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I read about half of The Doors of Perception years ago. It was hard for me to follow, but that was really before I’d tried any uppers, downers, turn-around-ers, or other medications other than generics. This series and these essays might be here to help contribute my subjective understanding of reality to medicine and others or might just be a way for me to recollect my thoughts.
Related: Other Sober Living essays and the “Tripping On [The American Healthcare System]” series.
Photos: Daily doses under various lights. The pattern shows the main label for the pill on one side, then the lines on the other side vaguely showing a square or something.
Written On: Cited in-line.
Last Edited: I’m not editing this beautiful mess, part two.
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.