Saturday, August 08, 2009

Diana on Steroids

By Diana Hsieh

As I mentioned, I had oral surgery last Tuesday, July 28th. For a full week, I felt pretty miserable. After the first day, I wasn't in pain. Yet I was dour, grumpy, and miserable -- as poor Paul can attest! I was also easily tired. I didn't dare drive myself anywhere, and the simple act of walking down the driveway wore me out. I couldn't figure out what the problem was, but I suspected that I was in more pain than I realized, that my body was in a bit of shock, that the medication was affecting me, and/or that I was aggravated by my diet of soft foods.

Six days after my surgery, that changed for the better. I woke up on Monday (August 3rd) feeling like my old self again. I was happy and chipper. I took pleasure in eating. I was able to drive down to Colorado Springs to pick up the raw milk for our co-op in Castle Rock -- over two hours high stress driving due to the delicate timing and iffy traffic -- without feeling tired afterward.

Given that radical change, I began to suspect that I was pretty seriously affected by the drugs I had been taking -- particularly the steroids. (I've never had any kind of response to antibiotics before.) The steroid I took was methylprednisolone (a.k.a. medrol) for six days, starting with six doses and tapering down to just one. I took my last dose on Sunday morning. So the timing made sense.

My periodontist confirmed that such mood changes are fairly common on the steroids. He told me that some people feel much better on them -- namely people who have arthritis or other orthopedic problems. However, people without such problems tend to feel crappy on them, as I did.

All in all, I'm rather surprised that I reacted so strongly to the steroids. I'm not surprised that they made me tired, but their effects on my mood were downright alarming. I didn't feel like myself that week -- and truly, I wasn't myself! I don't think I've ever taken a mood-altering drug before, and I don't think I want to repeat the experience!

This experience surely has some profound implications for philosophic questions about personal identity and philosophy of mind. I'll leave that for you to discuss in the comments.

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