Taper Town: A Daily Practice
Wrists. Ankles. Neck. I sway back and forth, freeing my arms and legs from morning stiffness. Moving through the pain. The start of my daily practice.
Four months ago, I began my journey to Taper Town, the Herculean feat of reducing and stopping the daily dose of prednisone I take to help manage Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
The first milligram, from 5mg to 4mg, was the hardest. It took me three months, and my adrenal glands fought me all the way, refusing to wake up and produce cortisol. I almost quit. Again. And again.
Three things have kept me from popping back up to a comfortable 5mg:
- Even at a small dose, I had side effects, and research is clear about the havoc wrought by long term use.
- Prednisone withdrawal mimics a lupus flare.
- A daily practice of tai chi, yoga and meditation helps me with many symptoms, primarily pain.
I’ve written before about how tai chi and yoga help me live with lupus, even at my most decrepit. That has never been more true than during this prednisone taper. I started with tai chi. When taper pain hit me, it was all I could do to stretch. The stretching led me back to tai chi, which eventually seemed even better followed by a little yoga. Recently, I added meditation. Just a few minutes some days. Longer others.
I recommend finding a daily practice of your own if you are on a similar journey. How can you move and breathe and take care of your physical and emotional health each day? There is no such thing as starting too small. On my worst days, I lay in bed and flexed my hands and feet to break out of the “I cannot move” variety of morning pain. Many times, it got me out of bed to discover I could move some more.
It is morning. The house is still. I have moved my body and stilled my mind by the French doors. There, on a pillow on the carpeted floor, I open my eyes to find the day has begun.
It is day 125 of my prednisone taper, and I’m down to 3mg/day.