Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fat Face

One thing that usually cheers me up when I am feeling down is looking at photographs. Since you generally take photos when you’re having a good time, looking at photos always reminds me of all the things I have to be happy about. Also, in 2007 I started the fun tradition of making a slide show of the whole year, with a couple of pictures from each month. So while I felt like the majority of 2008 sucked (a lot) making the slide show for 2008 helped me realize that a lot of good things still happened.

Lately, however, I’ve discovered that looking at pictures just doesn’t make me happy anymore. I don’t like looking at myself in pictures because I look fat. I feel fat. I am fat. And I can handle a little jiggle in my belly and a little meat on my thighs. That’s not the problem. What has really been bugging me is that my face is fat. My cheeks are fat and my neck is fat. I feel like I have a double chin.

Before recently, I never spent any time worrying about my weight. I love fresh foods so I generally eat pretty healthy without much effort. And I used to be so active – water polo, swimming, hiking, snowboarding – that getting enough exercise was never really an issue for me. I never really had to think about being active before. I was just active.

However, over the past year, the pain of my RA has caused my activity level to decrease dramatically to the point where getting on the exercise bike for even half an hour is a big accomplishment for me. And, as a result, the pounds have been slowly creeping on to my body due to inactivity. I keep telling myself that this isn’t the time to worry about a little bit of extra weight. Just get the pain under control, I tell myself, and then I can be active enough to get the weight off.

But, when my rheumatologist decided it was time to stop the Remicade I was in a lot of pain. So, while we were between treatments and I was worried about pain while traveling my rheumatologist tripled my usual dose of prednisone. So I was on a really high dose of prednisone for about three weeks between Remicade and ENBREL. I am only slowly being able to lower this dose now. When I went on the prednisone, I knew, at least vaguely, that it had the potential to cause weight gain, but I was so miserable that I hardly cared.

Now I have learned the hard way that prednisone not only causes weight gain (from encouraging calorie consumption and increasing fluid retention) but prednisone can also lead to a redistribution of body fat to places that are undesirable. Turns out that one of those places is THE FACE! This can make even a small amount of weight gain seem intolerable and I can see why! I can’t help thinking: would I have agreed to so much prednisone if I had known it was going to give me fat face?

It’s hard to say. There are so many ways to be unhappy about the state of my body, and it’s frustrating that fixing one part always seems to mess up another part. I can take methotrexate to keep my joints from being destroyed, but it might give me cancer. I can rest when my everything hurts, but then I gain weight from being inactive. And I can take prednisone to help with the pain and give me the ability to be more active again, but then I get fat face!

While I feel like the ENBREL might actually be working (knock on wood, please!) the whole fat face situation is really messing with my self-esteem and my mood in generally. And, anyhow, how on earth do you loose face fat?


J said...

My prednisone dose gave me a serious fat face. Like my cheeks just felt swollen and generally chipmunk-ish.
In OTHER news - I saw you in MAY and there was no fat face present. While steroids do cause some of this, I also think some of it is probably just in your head. You are BEAUTIFUL chica, and you will be able to be active again, sooner than you think!

~Mariah~ said...

The fat face is more of a recent occurrence, as most of my large dosage of prednisone was after AJ's wedding. But I know some of it is in my head - there are so many ways to be mad at my body right now I can't seem to pick just one! But thanks so much for the support and kind words. I really appreciate it. I hope you are feeling better too.

Hayley said...

I think that we are most critical of our faces because we see them the most. It's easy to cover up other undesirable areas of our bodies with clothes, etc. But faces? Not so much. I admire you positive attitude with RA Z, I really do!

Sylvia Zebrowski said...

Love to my beautiful girl.

~Mariah~ said...

Thanks, Haley. I think you're right. I can wear clothes that cover up the weight gain on my body but my face is out there for everyone to see! Bleh. But thanks for your positive comments. Every single one I get makes me feel a little bit better.

Also, thanks mama. Though I think you may be a bit biased. ~;o)

Unknown said...

For 100% serious, your face does not look any fatter to me. You're right that just a little weight in the face is noticeable, and I always fail to notice my own face getting fatter till I see photos, but in your case? You could've fooled me that there was even a little weight gain in your face. And like I said the other day, your whole damn figure looks like it's in good shape to me!

Little Red said...

My dear llama: You are SO beautiful in a way that you may never fully be able to see yourself. So you're just going to have to take my word for it. ;-) Love and miss you.

~Mariah~ said...

Thanks, guys. I really appreciate your support. Though I want you to know that this post was not a cry for compliments! I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with my frustration over all the stuff that happens to my body that I can't control.