Prednisone | Lupus | Auto-Immune Disease | Inflammation | Rheumatoid Arthritis

When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and MCTD or Mixed Connective Tissue Disease 16 years ago I was in a great deal of pain. It was difficult to simply get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

The Rheumatologist prescribed daily dose of prednisone which is a prescription steroid anti-inflammatory medicine. Prednisone was a miracle drug for me. My symptoms disappeared almost overnight. I was out walking, hiking and living my active lifestyle again in no time.

Around 90 days into my initial prednisone use I went to see a highly recommended Rheumatologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

He told me that long term chronic use of prednisone (more than a year) Would begin to have adverse effects on my body specifically my internal organs. He said I should taper off Prednisone and learn to get by without it.

I tried. I failed. Every time I quit taking Prednisone completely I inevitably had a Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis flare up.

I was frustrated and depressed.

I started learning more about anti-inflammatory nutrition. I started making fruit and vegetable smoothies and juicing. I started eating mostly vegetarian. I started drinking 100 ounces of water a day. Under the advisement of a Naturopathic Doctor I started taking anti-inflammatory supplements like glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and turmeric.

After a couple months I was finally able to stop taking prednisone and not have a lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis flare up!

Over the past 16 years, since that initial 4 or 5 months on prednisone I’ve only had to take prednisone when I’ve had a severe flare up, which on average has been once every 2 or 3 years.

My flare ups usually seem to be triggered by emotional stress.

I hadn’t taken prednisone for over 4 years until 2 weeks ago when I had to go to the ER for a blood clot in my leg. The Doctors were worried I might have a pulmonary embolism which could kill me.

My Doctor says that because of the MCTD, Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis and systemic inflammation throughout my body that I was at higher risk of a DVT blood clot ( Deep Vein Thrombosis). I had no idea I was at high risk. Now I know.

Unfortunately now I have to take blood thinner or anti-coagulation meds (Coumadin / Warfarin) to keep my blood from clotting again.

That’s a major bummer as now I have to be extra careful as to not cut myself or fall and get a head injury or bruise because they say I could bleed out internally due to my thinned blood. Crazy! As if living with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis wasn’t hard enough!

My Doctor told me I will be on Coumadin / Warfarin blood thinning meds for a minimum of a year and probably for the rest of my life.

Initially I got depressed but then I woke up a few days into the anti- coagulation treatment and decided that I’m just not going to accept that.

I have managed my inflammatory disease issues with nutrition and decided to research nutrition to thin my blood naturally. I’ve learned a ton in the past week and am excited to implement my new anti-coagulation nutrition plan.

I will keep you posted on my progress in future blog posts.

Back to the prednisone. My doctor had me on 40 mg of prednisone a day. That’s a lot! I didn’t like the way it made me feel, although my Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms calmed down as did the inflammation in my joints, it made it hard for me to sleep and I felt anxiety.

2 weeks into the process I am now down to 10 mg a day and tomorrow go to 5 mg. In 4 to 5 days I will be going off prednisone completely.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on prednisone. Like I said, over 4 years. While on prednisone this time around I’ve noticed that in addition to having more energy than normal, my brain is working better. My memory is better and I am articulating thoughts better.

I fee normal for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten how good it feels to have energy and think clearly.

I’ve been living with these health challenges for 16 years so my “normal” is joint and muscle pain, fatigue and low energy. God it feels good to have energy again!

My big fear is that when I stop taking prednisone my energy level will go down and my joint and muscle pain will return.

My Doctor ordered blood tests and of course they confirmed the MCTD/ Lupus / Rheumatoid Arthritis / inflammation throughout my body.

In fact he told me that normally with results as high as mine he would prescribe Enbrel or Humira biologic injections to try and reduce the inflammation in my body.

Then he asked me what I was doing to control the inflammation. He didn’t understand how, with as much inflammation as I had going on in my body how I was even walking around comfortably let alone riding a motorcycle, waking for exercise and living a fairly normal life.

I explained my nutritional regimens to him and he said “well, whatever your doing, keep doing it because it’s working.”

He also said that the biologicals like Humira and Enbrel come with a myriad of challenging potential side effects and he wouldn’t prescribe it unless I absolutely needed it.

I am enjoying being on the prednisone and having less pain and more energy.

I am going to stop taking the prednisone next week and hopefully won’t have any flare up symptoms. I expect for some of the pain, inflammation and low energy fatigue to return but I’m used to that.

In response to the recent DVT blood clot health scare I’ve taken my nutrition program to another level. I’ve been doing my nutritional organic green berry smoothies every day and eating a lot of organic veggies for many years but I only have been juicing twice a year when I do my juice cleanses usually for 7 to day 10 days each time. I started juicing every day again.

Funny how when your told your life is on the line the the motivation to do better shows up.

I’m juicing every day now. I have a green berry smoothie for breakfast, organic veggie juice for lunch and a vegetarian meal for dinner. I am also taking all my anti-inflammatory supplements every day like vegetarian liquid glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, Udo’s oil, fish oil, vitamin D, B12 and turmeric.

I am determined to live prednisone free, reduce the inflammation in my body naturally and also to thin my blood naturally and get off the blood thinners.

I even finally started writing a book on anti – inflammatory nutrition for people with auto immune diseases like MCTD, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. I’ve been writing every day.

If you suffer from any inflammatory auto- immune disease, please subscribe to this blog site and keep checking back for new articles and nutritional information.

My girlfriend Brandi has been very supportive through all of this. I am grateful to have such an amazing, loving, accepting, patient and kind partner in my life.

She s a great chef too! We’ve created some amazing organic vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free recipes that taste amazing. We’re working on some videos which we will be posting on this website soon. She’s the cook and I’m the smoothie and juice guy. We make a great team.

Until next time…. Live with passion and purpose!

Dave

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I am grateful for so many things in my life today.  My health, my family and friends and all the wonderful things I am learning about health and nutrition today.
I have been eating very healthy – doing all of my nutrition smoothies and juicing and wheatgrass and Udo’s oil and supplements and eating veggies and green drink and drinking lots of purified water and the list goes on.  I feel wonderful when I eat this healthy!   Then Thanksgiving comes – Turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing (with sausage) Gravy  and OMG!  I splurged a bit – I made some roasted sweet poatatoes myself -they are loaded with nutrition and ant-oxidants.  I felt horrible after.  My stomach hurt and I was bloated.  I woke up the next day (today) not feeling too well. Kind of like a bad food hangover!  Amazing how sensitive my body is to “bad for me” foods when  havent been eating them very often.  The GOOD NEWS is I am back on track today and feeling better already!   I have discovered roasted veggies and they can be really delicious.   The more veggies -organic of course and the the bigger variety the better.  Here’s a picture of a recent roasted veggie meal I made – was so yummy!

Roasted Veggies

I added a liitle olive oil and seasoning – then broiled both sides.  Yams, red peppers, asparagas, zuchini, portabello mushrooms, tomatoes,  and i added some roasted acorn squash, lightly steamed spinach with lemon and freshh avocado to the meal.  Delicious and nutritious!  Also good on the grill.

I have been working very hard the past couple months to take really good care of my health and try to get my body more alkaline.  From doing a 10 day juice cleanse, to colonics and eating mostly vegetarian.  I have eaten almost completely vegetarian the past 2 weeks, no meat or dairy.   I did have eggs one day and fish (salmon) another. I have excercised for at least an hour a day, mostly biking and walking.  One day I walked 10 miles and another I biked 50 miles.   I drink 100+ ounces of water a day and I’ve taken my shot of Udo’s Oil evry day along with my liquid Vitamins, green drink, glucosamine -chondroitin-MSM, and also wheatgrass juice every day.

Since I started testing my alkalinity I’ve never been under 7.0  which is barely alkaline. Today when I tested my alkalinity / acidity I was 6.0  which I didn’t even think was possible!   I am so excited that all my hard work is paying off.  I want to get my cholesterol checked again to see how low it is now.  My goal is to keep it under 150.

The key to alkalinity is eating a whole foods vegetarian diet with lots of whole grain fibre, fruits and vegetables.  Taking my greens, udo’s Oil and wheatgrass drinking lots of water and exercising helps as well.  I am in the best physical shape since I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Scleraderma) 10 years ago!  Get healthy – get alkaline!

Wow! I can’t believe a month has gone by since I’ve written a post on here!  Shame on me.  I’ll do better!  I am reading a great book, “The China Study”  by T. Colin Campbell PHD.   It is all about one of the  most comprehensive studies of Nutrition ever conducted.   The China Study confirms my beliefs about animal protein.

When I was first diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleraderma)   I was very active, jogging, hiking and working out at the gym every day. On the advice of a friend I was taking a high protein supplement shake and eating high amounts of protein every day.   I always felt that the high protein diet I was on had something to do with the onset of my disease.

The China Study just confirms my assumptions.  I remember when my parents tried “The Adkins Diet”  and I told them I thought it was an unhealthy diet.  Too much protein and fat.    It’s not healthy.   The China Study addresses animal protein and possible connections with Cancer, Heart Disease, cholesterol, fat intake and more.  It is a fascinating read if you are into healthy living.  It talks about a plant based whole foods diet being the answer. No Dairy, no meat or eggs, no fish, low fat.  Lots of fresh organic fruit and veggies is the way to go.

I still eat meat myself, but in moderation.  I do eat fish and eggs also, but again in moderation.   I’ve been eating either oatmeal or my fruit smoothie with soy milk in the mornings.  Lunch is usually a 6″ inch subway veggie sandwich on whole wheat with no cheese or I’ll make a green salad.   I had a veggie burger tonight and some asparagus for dinner, I also make a great veggie stir fry, veggie tacos and veggie wraps.  Last night I ate out with a friend and had the best Veggie Lasagna I’ve ever tasted. YUM!   Cheese, but again -moderation.  When you learn to cook good healthy food it makes all the difference.   I get plenty of protein from veggies, soy products  and the fish I eat.   We really don’t need that much protein, it’s more about getting the right combinations of amino acids form the protein we eat.   But the animal protein, there are detrimental effects on our health long term.   So eat more greens and cut down on animal protein.

I try to get my nutrition through natural, organic foods and fresh vegetables.   I also take a few supplements daily.  In addition to my Udo’s Oil and Wheatgrass, I take a multi Vitamin, Glucosamine Chondroitin, vitamin B12, Vitamin D and MSM.   As with all supplements I believe you have to take them consistently for a long period of time to truly benefit from them. Consistency is key.

When I was diagnosed with MCTD or Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, an Autoimmune disease consisting of a combination of symptoms of Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Scleraderma, my Rheumatologist prescribed prednisone, an antiinflammatory Steroid, to calm my immune system and reduce the inflammation in my body. It worked wonders. Within 3 hours of taking the prednisone I felt like a new man. Life went on and I was out jogging again in no time.

After a few months I went to see another Rheumatologist at Virginia Mason in Seattle, who recommended that I try to stop taking Prednisone, that long term usage could do damage to my internal organs. Over the next month I decreased my prednisone dosage, and soon was prednisone free. Unfortunatly this was short lived, as I started having symptom flare-ups. Sore throat, temperature fluctuations, joint swelling, severe sunburn, followed by severe fatigue and depression. I had to take prednisone again.

I was determined to get off the prednisone, it was hard because the Prednisone made me feel so much better.  It has taken years, but  2008 is the first year I havemade it through the entire year without any prednisone.  I still carry a bottle with me when I travel, just in case I have a severe flare up.

Up till last year (2007) I was still taking Prednisone for flare ups 2 -3 times a year.   Flare ups usually brought on by lack of sleep and emotional stress.  I have to be careful and remember to take good care of myself.   I did have a few flare ups in 2008, I  but I was able to get them under control without using Prednisone.  Mainly by getting caught up on sleep, eating healthy, and drinking lots of water.   If I go 2 -3 days with only 5 or 6 hours of sleep I am way more likely to have a flare up.  Gotta get my beauty sleep!

Update – Since 2008 I have taken Prednisone 3 times, so and average of a couple weeks when I have a bad lupus or rheumatoid arthritis flare, once every 2 or 3 years.

To reduce inflammation I have to be consistent with my nutritional regimen and cut out sugar, meat, wheat / gluten and processed foods.  Definitely makes a difference!

Here’s to living prednisone free and living happy and healthy Beyond Inflammation, autoimmune disease, connective tissue disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and MCTD!