Exactly two years ago, I was pacing the emergency room in frantic circles, my mind spiralling down into psychosis. I will never know what truly caused it. Lupus-induced brain inflammation (Lupus Cerebritis)? The side-effects of prednisone? A lethal combination of both? Since then, Evil P, despite strong evidence it caused the most difficult time of my life, has remained, not only in my body, but as an integral part of my treatment plan. Does my body really need Evil P to live a quality life with Lupus? At the moment, due to my white blood cell fluctuations, my rheumatologist assumes I do, but I’ve experienced no change in my energy levels or (lack of) symptoms when I was on or off Evil P.
My recent blood lab revealed that my white blood cells are up from 1.9 to 2.7, most likely caused by the reintroduction of Evil P. However, whether the original dip in white blood cells was due to being off prednisone is still in question. A person’s white blood cell count can fluctuate daily depending on whether the body is fighting an infection at the time. When analyzing my previous labs, my naturopath discovered that I was showing levels of bacteria in my urine, a sign that I may have been fighting an infection at the time. She was disappointed that my rheumatologist didn’t order another blood test to reconfirm results before putting me back on a drug that has so many mental and physical side effects. Regardless, it’s clear that my body still needs the help of an anti-inflammatory, whether it’s natural or chemical (or both) is still in question.
Tomorrow, I start a three-month plan with my naturopathic doctor to slowly phase out prednisone with the help of herbal supports. At exactly the three month point, I will get blood work done and re-assess according to the results. I’m still on plaquenil everyday, twice a day, so it’s an experiment involving chemical and natural interventions in equal parts. It’s safe, slow, and under stable conditions. I know I’m in good hands with both my naturopath and my rheumatologist. They both have different views, but I’ve never doubted that both of these amazing women have my very best interests at heart.
I’m not pledging allegiance to either side. It’s important to note that my naturopath herself is taking a combination of herbal and prescription medication to treat her Lupus. I’m tired of feeling confused about my treatment plan, of being the ignorant “yes man,” of not truly engaging in a thoughtful investigation of my own health. Shifting your confidence to your body’s own abilities and natural remedies rather than prescription medication means a higher level of dedication and commitment. I’m nervous, but I ground myself in knowing that regardless of what happens, today, I’ve officially broken the “two year curse.” For the last six years, I’ve experienced an almost identical sequence of events almost exactly two years apart: Severe flare, hospitalization, sick leave, move back into parents house, short period of wellness, regain independence, return of symptoms, repeat.
Not this time, baby.