Last night I gave myself a steroid injection. It’s Thanksgiving week, and I want to survive it! So I gave myself an “edge.” Maybe that “edge” will be enough to let me feel “normal.” You know, like everyone else. No pain. No fatigue. Enough energy to visit with people, to walk around the house, to giggle with the crumb-grabbers, and talk to the teens. To talk to my children and their spouses and in-laws. To listen to our aunt ramble sotto voce. To listen to my husband, the raconteur, hold forth. No pain. No fatigue. No “fading out” after a couple of hours – maybe I can have 4 or 5 hours!
So, I gave myself a steroid injection. I can’t have another for 6 weeks – just enough time for me to give myself an injection for surviving Old Calendar Nativity. It’s ridiculous that I should have to do this. But autoimmune disease I have requires it. I have to suppress my overactive immune system that is attacking much of my connective tissue (including the membranes surrounding and lining my joints, and may at any moment attack the lining of my lungs, the covering of my heart, the covering of my muscles).
But that is life with autoimmune disease. I give myself methotrexate injections weekly. That, too, is life with autoimmune disease. I have to inject a toxic chemical (it’s a chemotherapy agent, forthelordssake) to suppress my immune system from week to week. I take hydroxychloroquin (a malaria drug) to help suppress my immune system. As a result I have to protect myself from infection because my immune system is so suppressed. Flu shots yearly. Antibiotics at the first sign of infection. Be prepared for long sieges of sickness if an infection gets past my radar and escapes prevention.
But, last night I gave myself a steroid injection and suppressed my immune system even more than my normal drugs. So I can get through Thanksgiving. Steroids can cause psychosis. They can cause hip joints to disintegrate (avascular necrosis of the femoral head [destruction of the hip joint]). There are a host of other side effects that are dire. Thursday, I will be around small children – AKA “virus factories.” I will be careful, but I want to hug and snuggle those little “virus factories.”
So, in order to be there and be with them, I gave myself a steroid injection last night. But that very injection will make me more likely to pick up any infection they are carrying. In my mind, it’s worth the risk.