Should someone with a rare disease even consider trying to get pregnant? That was a question I asked myself shortly after my Churg Strauss diagnosis. Healthy or not, a lot of people don’t even think about the consequences of pregnancy. I have always been one to think things over and plan and prepare when I can. Years ago, I had decided to wait until I was married before I tried to conceive. (Nowadays that is not the case for everyone.) This led me to a crucial point in my relationship with my then boyfriend (now fiancé) after my diagnosis.
When I left the hospital after diagnosis, I was on prednisone to treat my Churg Strauss. After finding a rheumatologist, he recommended that I go one of 3 medications, Imuran, Methotrexate, or Cyclosporin. In addition to some common side effects such as nausea, headaches, thinning of the hair, etc, these have the potential to cause liver problems and an increased risk of certain blood cancers, lymphoma, etc. That sounded really scary to me! I know that prednisone can cause a lot of side effect too (which I have experienced), but cancer was just a scary word for me. The deciding factor though was that my doctor told me that I could not get pregnant while on any of those medications. They could cause death or deformations to the baby, and that they can remain in the blood stream for a long period of time and that he recommended waiting 6 months after stopping them before even trying to get pregnant. I made the decision to stay on prednisone. Because of this he recommended I take an osteoporosis mediation. Problem is, these are also harmful, cannot be taken while pregnant, and stay in the blood stream for 6+ months after stopping. So, I decided to take the wait-and-see approach. Well… over the course of two years, I have developed full blown osteoporosis, a common side effect of long term prednisone. Last year, my doctor said there was a newer drug on the market, called Forteo, which was different and did not stay in the blood stream, so I decided to try it. I’ve been on it for almost a year and will have a bone density scan next month, so we’ll see if it has made a difference. In the meantime, I have read a lot about diet and environmental factors that could contribute to osteoporosis, lowered calcium absorption, inflammation and immune system response, so I wanted to make changes to see if I could lower my prednisone and reverse my osteoporosis. These are things I have and will continue to cover in my blog.
Since I wasn’t sure how my health would be over the next 5 years or so, and I was already 33, I figured that I should seriously consider having a child within the next couple of years if I was going to at all. First I had to make sure I was feeling healthy, and then I had to make sure that I was not on any medication that could be harmful to the baby, and I needed to hurry up and get married!!
A little less than a year ago, I got engaged. It took a little prodding and pleading on my part, but I don’t think that was out of his lack of commitment…we have been together for 7 years, living together for about 5+ of those years. I had a sense of urgency that my body might only allow me to handle this for another couple of years. I’m 35 now and I don’t want to be too old to run around the yard with my children. I also don’t want them to have to care for me while they are still young. So, it was now or never! I was told that it was ok to be on prednisone while pregnant and breastfeeding and that there were a lot of documented cases of healthy babies in these situations, so I felt good about my decision to stay on prednisone. However, I still would like to reduce my dose as much as possible.
This has led me to a lot of research about food and environmental factors that might play into autoimmune disease, most of which I have already covered in previous posts. I decided to try the paleo diet as part of my experiment to see if I can lower my prednisone. Taking the gradual approach, I gave up all grains about 10 months ago. I have lost over 30lbs, while only minimally and inconsistently working out (treadmill and spin mostly), so I know the weight loss is strictly from the dietary changes. It has also stopped all blood sugar issues I’ve seen in the past and my nails have never been so long or looked so healthy in my life! I have continued to very slowly lower my prednisone (method covered in a previous post), and as of a few weeks ago I have moved on to remove dairy from my diet as well. I am not sure if this is a long term result of going grain free or if it’s an immediate effect of eliminating dairy, but I have gotten rid of my prednisone related acne!!! These are all encouraging side effects that tell me I am doing the right things. I also started an intense workout regimen. A couple of months ago I joined a local CrossFit gym. I am in love with it!!! All of these things I’m doing are to restore my health, lower my prednisone, and prepare my body to carry another life. At this point I am not even sure if I can get pregnant, but hopefully we will soon find out.
Sorry for the lack of updates lately…CrossFit has keep me really busy! I hope to post some new recipes soon. I tried a new cookie recipe and a banana bread recipe recently. Both will need some tweaking before I can suggest them to you, but keep an eye out for them. I have a bread recipe that I want to try and hopefully will get to this weekend…people are raving about it! It’s been almost a year since I’ve had a sandwich, and even though I can honestly say I really don’t miss them, it would be a nice treat to have a BLT!