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When Steroid Treatment Brings Both Darkness and Light

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It’s 12:52 a.m., three days into my monthly IV infusion and the steroids running through my veins are having a heavy effect on me.

My thoughts are swirling around and I can’t even grab one to simply settle on. I’ve taken Benadryl so I should be out. But instead I’m sitting here thinking about the past, the present and the future. I keep wondering how people can just move on. How can they just forget about the ones who loved them? It’s as if some relationships never even existed and in a moment they’re gone, completely erased from their mind and even their heart.

It’s times like these when I stop to I reflect on who I am and who I want to be. I want so badly to be the person I want from everybody else. I just want to be someone people fight for and want in their lives. But instead I find myself stuck in a place I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be stuck in this alternate dimension between good and bad health, or to feel like the needy friend and family member.

But right now it’s one thought, two thoughts, three thoughts, sheep. Who needs sheep when I have a whole lineup of thoughts to count? But in all reality, it’s pointless to even try to sleep at this moment. Steroids are basically an emotional garbage can that’s been dumped into my insides. So I put on the music that moves my body. I put on the music that touches my heart and reaches my soul. I take in the lyrics one by one. It’s like they wrote the song for me. So on stays the music as it keeps my swirling thoughts company.

Now it’s past 1 a.m. and I randomly think I should put makeup on because when the morning comes and the steroids have worn off until the next dose, I will be exhausted and not want to do anything the morning of my last day at the hospital. Often when I feel like I can’t accomplish much, I just put on my face — hide the imperfections, cover the dark circles and paint on a smile. I think if I look good on the outside I’ll feel good on the inside. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

But for now while the steroids are alive and real,  let’s have some real talk.

As much as I try to stay positive, this is real life and sometimes it’s just hard. I can try to tell my thoughts to stay in one direction and keep the smile on in order to make everyone else around me feel comfortable. But the real truth is life isn’t like that. Life can be painful. Sometimes circumstances in our life become unbearably hard to handle. Sometimes we lose things we never thought we would, like our health. Sometimes we lose people close to us because of our lack of health,  and when that happens we lose a piece of our heart, which takes away a piece of our positivity. We have to work overtime to gain that little bit of positivity back.

It’s OK to be real. It’s OK to say this is really hard sometimes. It’s OK to say I’m really struggling. It’s OK to say that my heart hurts a little. It’s OK to say that steroids make this all one hundred times worse.

If you don’t understand that or you don’t agree with, that’s OK too; we all deal with life and medications differently. Some of us feel so deeply and others are able to gloss over the difficult parts with ease. Unfortunately for many, steroids simply amplify all of our emotions.

Two hours later, I’m finally allowing my body to let go and try to find some respite before the morning comes ever so quickly and the cycle starts all over again. This continues for the days I receive IV steroids. But I feel alive in a way I didn’t for weeks upon weeks before. So when the rush of energy comes, I have a hard time saying no to it. Of course this happens to come at times I should be resting. So the double-edged sword strikes again.

A few days later, the steroid crash arrives. Suddenly the pain that had magically disappeared just as magically reappears. It’s an emotional reminder that I’m not miraculously cured. It’s a smack in the face that my reality is not the same as everyone else’s. It’s a constant roller coaster of physical and emotional ups and downs.

Steroids that brought the gift of a few pain-free days ever so quickly took it away again, leaving me with a question mark permanently placed above my head. Will I only feel better when on steroids? Will I ever find a place of good health without the yo-yo effects of steroids?

In a slightly morbid way, I almost feel like life hurts a little bit more when on steroids. I get so used to feeling sick and being in so much pain that when good health shows up and then is abruptly taken away, it’s a cruel joke. It’s saying to me, “Here, sample a tiny piece of the life you’re missing out on.”

But when the clouds lift and my emotions stabilize, I am ultimately grateful for the little bit of relief. A little bit is something, after all. So steroids or not, up or down, in the dark or in the light, I’ll take whatever positives I can get and run with them.

Originally published: July 9, 2019
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