Tuesday, 3 January 2012


This is a word I’d barely considered in the past. A flare was something that temporarily lit the sky, that burned bright and long and cast shadows in strange colour over all it touched. Flares came out of guns and flew into the air. I’d never fired one. Never been near anyone who had. A flare in the night, a brief and fleeting streak of light that was there and then gone.

Polymyalgia flares don’t quite do this. They are something else.

My steady reduction of the Prednisolone dosage had been going well. 20 mgs down to 15 mgs daily with no perceptible change in how the condition felt. Then, on the advice of the GP, I made an attempt at talking 15 mgs one day and 10 mgs the next. See how you get on with that, she’d advised. Don’t go any lower over the Christmas period, we want to avoid problems then. We do. But then problems at Christmas come with the territory, do they not?

So what did I do? Followed her advice to the letter, set about the new 10/15 fluctuating dose the week before the festivities, followed the regime through the days of joy and holly, pudding and cake, drink and dancing, carol singing and wishing you could find a quiet room to lie down in. And then, unaccountably, and in a rush of I can do this thing bravado I knocked the dose down again. A week ago. Reduced to 10 mgs daily. I’m getting away from you, Prednisolone, I jeered. I will subdue your power. I will overcome you. I will win.

Days one to three at this new lower level went well enough. The nose bleeds lessened, the sleeping patterns began to steady, the depressions held back. And then I started to feel it. That polymyalgia echo up the backs of my legs, that steady pain of the proximate muscles that nothing seems able to shift. First one leg then both. Throb throb. Throb throb. Pain again for the New Year weekend. Just what I had been warned to avoid.

To fix it I’ve put the dose back to where it was several weeks ago. 15 mgs daily. And it has taken at least three days at this older level for the flare, because this, it seems, it what I have been suffering from, to subside.

It’s a setback, a depressing reminder of what lurks beneath. Polymyalgia is not cured by prednisolone, just held down. It’s like a carpet that covers a ugly floor. The sight of it may be gone but down below the floor is still there.

I’ve turned my SAD lamp on again. This is a my Lumie Mediterranean light wonder, a certain cure for winter depressions. Sitting in front of it is a joy, even with prednisolone coursing my system and PMR mumbling underneath. I’m playing Roy Orbison records and allowing the great man’s voice to soar upwards and take my spirit with it. It’s over. It’s over. Problem is it’s not. Not yet.

1 comment:

  1. oh Peter, i have been there too, i actually followed to the letter my rheumatologists advice and actually got down from 20mg to 2.1/2mg in 9 months only to return almost to the unbearable pain i was first diagnosed with, now back at 10mg and holding steady. been told i will be on this dose for some time. i actually thought i had beat the blighter, now such luck. anyway i wish you a happy and hopefully pain free new year.