Almost immediately on starting this prednisone taper, my joints started to swell. Most pronounced were my ankles, but my fingers, toes, wrists and knees were also obvious to me. And I could feel the fluid in there.
They were very swollen, but no more painful than usual I think, for around ten days. I sent photographs to my rheumatologist of the initial swelling, and then during the second week I send photos from four separate days, to show her there was some mild variation, but the swelling was constant and very obvious.
On Monday morning the swelling subsided. I had ankles again! Yay!
Which is very strange, because on Sunday I dropped another 2.5mg to 10mg of prednisone. I didn’t expect the swelling to disappear at all. But of course, it DID, because on Monday afternoon my rheumatologist finally decided to call me back and ask me to see the swelling.
Oh the irony. I had to tell her the swelling had now dispersed.
I told her it had been very severe, as the photos showed, it even felt like my skin was going to burst on some days, but now it had gone. Not completely, but mostly. I certainly had nothing impressive to show her.
She said she needed to see the swelling, examine me, to ascertain if it was fluid in the joint or what else might be causing the swelling. I said I wished she’d called last week, because I could have shown her plenty then, but now my joints were back to looking more or less normal.
The pain, however, remained!
She asked if I wanted to come in, I said I didn’t see a point if all she wanted to see was swollen joints. I did tell her the taper was tough, and I am getting little respite from severe pain. She said if it the swelling returns to call immediately, make sure the message got through urgently, and she would fit me in somewhere.
This is the problem though. Her reception staff seem to think ‘urgent’ means write it on a bit of paper, leave it on your desk overnight, throw a few things on top of it, and find it again six days later and then pass it onto the doctor.
But I assured her that I would call ‘urgently’.
I also told her that I had seen my GP, and she could call him for his opinion. Because the swelling was so pronounced, I wanted him to see it, to get his opinion. She asked me what he had said. I told her he said it was a very obvious and nasty rheumatoid flare up.
She just said “Hmmmmm.”
And still, I don’t think she thinks so. Despite photographs that are clearly my hands and my feet looking pretty puffed up and gross, it still didn’t seem like she agreed with the rheumatoid flare up idea.
I have no idea why. I think she has some other theory that she is not ready to share.
I thought she would be rejoicing at the pictures of my feet. I thought she would be getting out her prescription pad and applying for Actemra, because it takes at least 4 weeks for a new biological to be approved. I thought the photos would be enough to get her head back into ‘This IS rheumatoid’ mode and she’d be a bit more excited.
She did say that she now had an ultrasound machine in her rooms, and that when I came in she would examine my joints with ultrasound, to look for swelling. THAT would be proof of synovitis and inflammatory arthritis for her.
So today is day 3 of 10mg of prednisone, and I am flagging now. The prednisone headache has hit hard. I had a few good hours this morning, but since lunchtime I’ve been couch blob. Everything hurts too much to even consider gym. I’m using my wheelchair around the house, it’s easier than walking. Hard on my shoulder though. My brain is fuzzy and I can’t organise my thoughts. Thank the gods for my smartphone, and reminder apps, because my memory is moosh. It’s more than fatigue, its confusion and exhaustion. It takes a great effort to focus on anything, and I just want to sleep, but I have a GP appointment for more pain meds in an hour. I have gone through this scripts worth too quickly, but considering the fast prednisone taper, I’m sure he’ll understand. He DID see my ankles last week, and he knows what my rheumatologist’s plan is, and I don’t think he agrees with it.
I’m struggling to eat now, and when I do eat, I feel nauseous. I have a few meals in the freezer still, so we’re Ok for a day or two. I hope I’ll continue to have two or three good hours in the morning, but life is down to grit your teeth and bear it.
I have some bloodwork to get done for my Immunologist, and I see her on the 20th of February. And unless I become the Michellin Man again, I see my rheumatologist on the 22nd of February, so she can run whatever tests she deems necessary.
I know my Immunologist is looking for some very rare myeloproliferative eosinophilic diseases, I can tell what she’s looking for by the bloodwork she’s ordered. That, and she’s already told me that she wants me to have a bone marrow biopsy. Not particularly looking forward to that, but at this point, I just want answers and treatment. Looking at the signs and symptoms, her theory is possible. I’m hoping she’s wrong, however.
When I see my rheumatologist it will be at least another week for her to run her tests. And then maybe she’ll allow me to up my prednisone and/or apply for another biological. Or something!
In the meantime, I’ll be mostly here on the couch, waiting for the time to go by…