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Dealing With People Who Ask 'Are You Pregnant?' Since I Started Prednisolone


Since being diagnosed with lupus I have been on many different medications and combinations of medications but the one that has been there through the whole journey, for better and worse, is my steroid, prednisolone.

Before I began my journey with lupus and steroids I had always been the same size. Didn’t prednisolone change that in a hurry! Although it did help with my joint pain and inflammation levels, along with it came hideous mood swings, uncontrollable carbohydrate cravings and a bright red moon face, and I suddenly jumped up a few sizes.

This sudden jump in sizing, along with all the other changes lupus had made in my life, took a lot of getting used to. I work in retail in a shop and my sudden weight gain was soon noticed. Unfortunately, it was constantly mistaken for another type of weight gain… everyone thought I was pregnant.

Not a shift went by when I didn’t have someone come up to me to ask me when I was due, or to congratulate me. Most times I managed to deal with it with humor. Other times, though, I would just respond with a quiet no and they would leave the subject alone.

One particular regular customer quite simply wouldn’t believe me. She was speaking in her normal voice, which was quite a loud yell to anyone else, and insisting she could tell I was pregnant by how “fat” I was and it was OK for me to confide in her, she wouldn’t tell anyone. (She wouldn’t need to tell anyone, people in Mongolia would have been able to hear her quite clearly!) I yelled to her I was sick, it was from a medication, but she still wouldn’t believe me. By this time the combination of feeling humiliated and the steroid tears and mood swings had kicked in so I yelled at her through my tears that I was also having chemotherapy and my hair was starting to fall out, too. She finally believed me. And walked off in a huff as though I had offended her!

When I got home that night I was at my absolute lowest. I made it through, though. I still get asked regularly if I’m expecting. These days I just say no and stare at them and let them feel uncomfortable. It may seem harsh, but if making them feel a little uncomfortable makes them think twice about asking and possibly embarrassing someone else in the future, then it’s worth it.

And so my love/hate relationship with steroids continue. They’ve helped me so much, given me back some mobility, but they embarrass the heck out of me sometimes, too! But it this is what it takes to keep me reasonably healthy, well, I’m OK with that. It’s worth it in the long run.

To others dealing with the effects of steroids, just remember you can only control your body so much, especially when it comes to dealing with lupus and medication side effects. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your calorie intake is or if your body will allow you to exercise, the side effects will still win. Above all, know that you are not alone, and look at the big picture — these medications are most likely keeping you alive. Surely that is more important than anything else.

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Thinkstock photo by Ola-Ola