Patti Edmon Altered Attic: Altered Image

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Altered Image

A glance at the cover of any women's magazine reveals how obsessed we are with our bodies, more specifically, the size and shape of our bodies. Each month a bounty of new pointers to guide us in the war to conquer the bulge, shave the fat, eat without starving, exercise without breaking a sweat.
The magazines don't matter much to me, note that I referred to the covers. In my case, medication that has delivered much needed health benefits also packed on an 40 extra pounds in less than two years. Prednisone has eased this roller coaster ride of life with an auto-immune disorder. It has reduced inflammation and provided energy to meet deadlines, extra fuel for major holidays, travel and busy times, like my stints as a ballet mom. But after three years, I can no longer ignore the fact that the side effects outnumber the benefits. So, I think I am finally brave enough to start tapering off, hope my adrenal glands haven't atrophied and will jump start, begin producing appropriate amounts of cortisol. 
The upside to weaning off is the possibility that I'll eventually fit back into 98% of my clothes; the potential pitfalls are increased joint pain and arthritis flares, an even denser brain fog, deadening fatigue, mood swings and/or depression. Yay. 
Why do I post this exciting news? Perhaps to affirm my commitment. I'm working diligently to keep my spirits buoyed and maintain daily creativity - my salvation during this illness. And to share; surely I'm not the only one slogging through quicksand just to reach the morning coffee pot, or with an alternate 'fat' wardrobe thanks to medication, hormones or other occasions when one swells up in order to feel better.  
There are moments when I forget and look in the mirror expecting to see the younger-looking, thin and healthy me. My friends and loved ones still appreciate my redeeming qualities, personality, spirit. The collage I just finished (photo at right) speaks to the burden of image that can be a self-imposed prison. As I type this, I realize I'm the one who hasn't accepted this version of me.
Test results from a recent visit to the internist - after gaining 5 pounds in a week - revealed that my heart is fine; their recommendation was to pursue diet and exercise. Ha. Anyone who has plumped up on prednisone knows that no trendy diet, even a good common sense approach, won't budge an ounce. I immediately canceled my follow-up appointment. Diet and exercise didn't get me here - though I've started improving my already healthy lifestyle - and I was disappointed, I'd hoped for something a teense more helpful. Like understanding. The kind of help I won't find in this month's magazine article.

7 comments:

Karen Mireau, Founder of Bio.Graphia said...

We all are imprisoned by the images of women that pass for beauty in this culture. It is so brave and fine of you to open up to us and reveal your own feelings about this, as well as your conflicted relationship with Prednisone. Your assemblage speaks for all of us. I know of no woman who hasn't suffered greatly from the ravages of "the mirror" and our own expectations of perfection.

Woody Berry said...

what a powerful piece of writing this is... so full of courage and strength... most of all, I admire the healthy way you respond to the difficulties that have come your way... I hope you feel my support with you...

Diane said...

Oh, the woes of being a woman! So many expectations are placed on us by others that we become weighed down, immobilized, frozen, and stuck. We forget who we have been truly created to be. I praise God that you have begun the process of chipping away at this near-impenetrable burden that makes us sisters forget that we are in charge of our bodies, not society, not our doctors. I pray that each day of this new journey for you is filled with wonder, excitement, and joy. May you know that I am supporting you and sending you the blessings of God, Sophia, each day.

Jan Berry said...

You are very brave! And middle-aged women everywhere know this exact feeling: "... I forget and look in the mirror expecting to see the younger-looking, thin and healthy me" ... it's always kind of a shock ... but we're still us, you know, only wiser ... seriously, I read a study this morning that said we really do get wiser as we age ...

P.S. I love your art and your blog!

Kate said...

Patti, What amazing art work, and it came from you - the woman staring back from the mirror. Mirrors can be our enemies or our friends- that struggle never ends. All of the imagery, shades of color & beauty that are in your art work are in you as well. Let them shine.

Sherry/Cherie said...

Diet and exercise are two words that do not go with prednisone. I know this though..if I hadn't been walking my youngest to and from school every week day for the year I was on prednisone I think I would have gained more weight than I did. The drug itself changes your body - period. Then there is the increased appetite it gives you. And it does distort your body image without a doubt. No matter that we know it is helping us -- it makes us more emotional than we were before.

I applaud you for weaning and I know you know it's not all going to happen over night.

My thoughts and my positive vibes are with you throughout this. I've been there and I know what it's like.

I'm now coping with how I look post chemo weight (I gained, didn't lose) and being put into full menopause because of that and the changes it has created. But I'm here and I'm alive and the weight will go, when the weight goes.

sissy923 said...

Hi, just wanted to say I hope the best for you weaning off the meds. It is so hard, I have an auto-immune disease, also. So I understand wanting to feel good on meds, but those side effects. I hope all goes well, I love your work and will continue to visit your work.

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