Don't F with me!
Don’t F with me!

Most people will tell you Im one of the sweetest, most caring people you’ll ever meet. But make no mistake, when Im recovering from a bad asthma exacerbation, I can become an obnoxious asshole…

I get anxious, I get irritable, I get angry and nasty all at the same time. I snap at everyone and everything. The slightest annoyance sends me into rage mode.

90% of this behavior is caused by the medications. Everyone is different, but Prednisone in doses greater than 30 mg makes me totally psychotic. My brain goes a million miles a second and I can’t control my emotions.
You would think that after being on the drug for 60 years that it would have less an effect, but just the opposite is true for me.

The catch 22 with steroids and asthma, is that as you wean off the drug, your lungs tend to get tight again and your shortness of breath increases making you even more irritable. When the effort of breathing becomes overwhelming you’re forced to increase the prednisone again, which makes you psychotic again. It’s a horrible cycle that unfortunately, most medical providers, loved ones and the public at large dont have the slightest clue about.

If you’ve never had a lung disease like asthma or COPD, you probably have no idea what it actually feels like to breath as they say ….”through a straw”. That weak analogy doesn’t even come close to the actual feeling. Sure it’s tough to breath through a little straw, but just try breathing through that same little straw continuously 24 hours a day, for days or even weeks at a time without at break. Trust me , it’s a situation you never want to be in. It’s scary ,it’s exhausting and it’s mentally draining. Add to that, the stresses of being in a hospital intensive care unit and sleep deprived, it should be no big surprise that we go partially insane while we’re recovering.

So, does this mean a person with breathing problems has earned the right to be cranky? I don’t think most of us actually have a say in the matter. While we can certainly make ourselves a little more aware of the potential for acting out during the aftermath of a bad flare, the side effects of the drugs and the breathlessness that we have to deal with makes it extremely difficult to control our outward emotions. Maybe the best thing to do is warn the people around us ahead of time, that we are probably not going to be very fun to be around during our recovery period. People need to be patient and give us some extra space till we get over the hump.

And word of advice, please don’t try to talk to us a lot if we’re having a difficult time breathing. Try to communicate with in a way that doesn’t require a lot of verbal responses on our part. You have no idea how much it takes out of person just to talk or answers question when they can’t breath. And when people keep it up, it just pisses us off more.

Until they invent alternative medications or treatment for severe asthma, I will mostly likely continue to be a jerk when Im sick. Im sorry about that, but I already have a lot on my plate without having to worry if Ive offended someone. Believe me , there’s plenty of guilt to deal with after we finally start to feel better.


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10 thoughts on “Im an A hole when Im sick

  1. Heather says:

    The last time I had a flare up and was on prednisone I was doing something in the kitchen when a family member placed a spoon on the counter….almost instantly I screamed “don’t put that there” and slammed it down somewhere else. I even shocked myself

    It is definitely not voluntary!!

  2. kerri says:

    Catch-22 as well that we realize we’re being jerks and then are somewhat forced to cyclically feel guilty about one thing or another, eh? But nope, we get to be assholes AND have a conscience at the same time, how’s that for effing with your head, eh?

    I never found I was overly angry on prednisone, but damn, if you want me to cry at everything, hit me up with 50 mg and give me 24 hours. The odd thing was, is I never noticed this at 30 or 40 mg, but the time I started at 50? Boom–and, it didn’t simply STOP once I hit 30 mg either, I think I was down to 20 mg or less when I finally stopped crying at everything. [Look, I’m still amazed that I didn’t cry on you at the airport in 2012 lol… Not sure how you got away with that one, lucky duck. Dude drives a 3+ hour round trip to take a hysterical/stressed girl on 40 mg prednisone to the airport and doesn’t even get cried on. Good thing I got thisclose to crying on you in the hotel parking lot in September to make up for it, haha.] So, honestly, I might prefer being easily irritated and angry about things than crying at nothing… even if I know it’s the drugs.

    …Anyways, even if you claim to be an asshole on steroids, I still have no doubts you’re the sweetest asshole out there. Maybe I’m biased ’cause I know where you’re coming from, though. 😉

    1. I think you and I discussed the topic briefly just a few hours before I wrote this rant/post….lol Writing about it ( if you call it writing), actually helped unload some of the anxiety I was having at the time. Thankfully the worst of it only lasted about 72 hours, I appear to be a lot more mellow now. I definitely remember a lessening degree of hypersensitivity as my pred dose dipped below the 50mg mark. Ive also observed that this phenomena doesn’t usually manifest itself until Ive been on high doses of steroids for more than a week. Prior to switching to 60mg via pills per day last Tuesday, I was on 320mg via IV per day for the previous 8 days.
      Wonder what it would be like if you had a group of asthmatics in close quarters who were going through steroid withdrawals at the same time. Maybe they would all keep to themselves and the effect would cancel itself out?

  3. Bill says:

    Prednisone is evil! It’s been years since I’ve been on it, thank God. Ever heard of uncontrollable rage? I’d snap, wreck furniture, put holes in the walls and I couldn’t shut it down and control it. I had to go on tranquilizers for anybody to safely be around me. I don’t miss that evil stuff one bit and hope it’s a lot more years before I have to ever use it.

    1. I agree 100% It’s evil stuff!

  4. Greg says:

    I was an education director at a hospital and had to do employee evaluations every spring and fall. I also had to do steroids every spring and fall. it was the worst with a brain raging and trying to be objective, calm, cool collected. Jeez I am glad i do not have to that anymore.

  5. Greg says:

    A couple amino acids help. GABA and L-Theanine. Serenity now serenity now. I am on roids as write this. Went to bed after 1:00am and woke up before 5:00am. It is going to be a long day.
    I will definitely take some GABA and Theanine tonight.

  6. Kelly says:

    I just want to say i just found this blog and THANK YOU. I am 38 yrs old and just diagnosed with asthma 4 1/2 yrs ago and been SEVERE for over a year now. I am currently sitting in my hospital bed (happy freaking new year!) for what is the 3rd hospital stay in less than a year, lying awake at 4 am in pain every breath i tskr and jittery from all the meds. I’ve been reading the blog for a hour or so and feel like FINALLY someone gets it. There is no rational way to explain to someone who doesnt deal with this on a DAILY basis how it takes over your entire life. So, again, thank you for putting this out there. I have to apologize to my 4 children constantly for “blowing up” and I feel terrible about it all the time.

  7. Hello and thank you for the kind words. So sorry to hear that you’re in the hospital for your asthma. I spent Christmas in the hospital myself and was discharged just a few days ago. You’re absolutely correct, most people have no idea how devastating asthma can be and how many side effects the medications that treat it can cause. I hope you recover from this flare soon. Hang in there.

  8. Carrie says:

    I am so sorry that you have to go through this at such a severe level so often. It is incredibly inspiring to see your commitment to health and exercise despite the severity of your asthma. I also genuinely appreciate the explanation of how prednisone can turn anyone into an ahole. I call them my “crazy pills” because I know everyone could be a victim at any point of me on high doses of steroids. My filter seems to completely leave my body when I’m on them. I think pointing my family to your blog might help them better understand the reality of what it feels like on our end. I look forward to meeting my old “non steroid self” again soon. 🙂

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