Let me preface this by saying that I know what causes people to gain weight, I also know how it comes off. This was meant to be a rant about about the frustrations of living on prednisone.
It’s no secret to anyone that people, especially women, have been struggling with their weight since the beginning of time. Some people feel they are to heavy and want to be thinner, while some are insecure about being so thin. And many look back to their younger years when they thought they were “fat” and wish they could go back to that weight. There are a million and one causes for people to gain or lose weight so I am not going to dive into all of them. That being said one MAJOR cause of obesity in the chronically ill community is due to side effects of medication especially prednisone. It is a fabulous drug for what it does but it sure has nasty side effects, one of which is weight gain.
As if we didn’t deal with enough on a daily basis living with a chronic illness without adding the struggle of our weight. I don’t know how many times over the last few years that I have been told if I would just lose some weight I would feel better. And while that is a valid opinion it just isn’t that easy. If I could snap my fingers and lose 20lbs or more I would do it. And I would do it in a heartbeat! But sadly that isn’t the way it works. And if anyone tells you that the weight you gained from steroids will just fall off after you stop taking steroids, they are LYING!!! Because the weight doesn’t just FALL OFF. It takes time and a strong concentrated effort to get the weight off. One of the most common side effects of Prednisone is weight gain and redistribution of weight. Meaning you will gain weight in new places. Like in your face, you may develop a moon shaped face. Yep, that’s fun. Or you may develop a hump at the top of your back. Yep, also fun. But people don’t know that your change in weight is from steroids and most will assume the worst.
I don’t know how many times since I have taken steroids that I threatened to start carrying a sign saying “I am not overweight because I am lazy, I am overweight because of Prednisone.” While I know this would do no good, it is tempting. When people see a person who is overweight it is easy for many to make a snap judgement and assume that they are overweight simply because they sit around and eat donuts and never exercise. They don’t think about the fact that they might be overweight because they are taking medication to treat our life altering conditions and gained weight because of the medication. Medications have side effects that cannot be eliminated. And yes some of us may not exercise. But that is also because of our condition. Some days it is hard to just get out of bed much less spend thirty minutes exercising. I’m sorry, but drinking the zucchini, spinach, blueberry, and pomegranate smoothie with aloe, acai, flax and the freshly ground dried toad does not make weight fall off. (This was sarcasm and not recommended for actual consumption.?)
I know what some of you are thinking. She just doesn’t want to take the blame. It is easier to blame a medication than it is to take the blame on her lack of exercise and poor food choices. And there is some validity to that. Yes, I may not exercise like I should. But that isn’t the point. My whole point here is that people as a whole need to think before they make such big assumptions about people. Just because we are overweight doesn’t mean we are lazy. It could be that we are treating a severe condition with very HIGH dose steroids with hope that we will just get better. Sometimes we have no choice but to take the medicine because our body is to busy trying to kill us. We take these medications in hope that maybe, just maybe, we can find some kind of a normal life again. So today, I carry extra weight. Do I long for the days when I was thinner? Yes!!! Yet I also know that this weight symbolizes battles I have fought and will continue to fight. I will struggle with this now because of a chronic illness I didn’t ask for. I will struggle because my options are take the medication or let my body attack and kill me. Before you make an assumption about my weight or anyone’s…. just pause.