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“You can’t lose weight while on Prednisone”….Yes you can

“You can’t lose weight while on Prednisone”….Yes you can

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Relayed by Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

This morning, I received a typed note from a patient. It was unexpected and such a pleasant way to start the day, that I had to ask her to allow me to share it with you.

The following words are Leonie’s:

Imagine my frustration when prescribed Prednisone for my Polymyalgia Rheumatica. I had just finished a course of Prednisone for a respiratory problem, and I was aware that, in spite of its undoubted spectacular effectiveness, it would just continue to add to my burgeoning weight problems.

After breast cancer, I had put on 15 kg in three years, and that was just part of the continuing steady weight gain over the years. I was now aged 75 and tipped the scales at 117 kg. It was difficult enough I figured, to control my weight at this age while having mobility problems.

I knew (doesn’t everyone know?) that nobody can lose weight while on Prednisone. Not only that. I knew that I would continue to pile on the kilos while on this wonder drug. I say that is what I KNEW. In reality, that is what I BELIEVED…erroneously!

I knew that I had to accept the challenge given to me at this time by Dr Irwin Lim.

After all, there were other crises happening in my health life at this time, all of them somehow weight related. In the space of a few weeks, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, Type 2 Diabetes, moderate kidney failure, as well as Polymyalgia Rheumatica.

But it was a huge challenge. And after consulting with Alison, the dietician, and Suzy, the exercise physiologist, both on the team at BJC, I started on the long road to recovery through change. Not easy, but not impossible.

Initial success helped me to unlearn my beliefs. Although I discovered that Prednisone complicates control of blood glucose levels, I also discovered that, with care, weight gain can be controlled while on Prednisone. Patient encouragement from Suzy and Alison saw me gradually taking control of my own destiny.

Now… where am I?

Now nearly three years down the track, I am taking almost nil Prednisone. But what has happened? Diabetes is under excellent control with exercise and no medication. Blood Pressure is under control. Atrial Fibrillation is under control. Kidney Failure is no longer a problem. And my joints and muscles are more or less in working order at last.

Now aged 78, my weight is 80kg and continuing to fall slowly. I value and appreciate the weekly sessions at the gym with Suzy. And I look forward to an active old age, but not yet.

Leonie is a patient at BJC Health. 

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