I have been on prednisone for the last 12 yrs., and so I have the “moon face” and big tummy that the drug that we love to hate causes. People look at me & you can just tell what they are thinking…I am also in a wheelchair part time, so I don’t get much if any exercise. I didn’t ask to be this way, but people just don’t understand even if you try to explain. Not really a question….just venting.


It’s perfectly fine to vent to Madame and she sincerely hopes that you have other people in your life who allow it as well. The thing about venting, Madame herself has discovered, is that it’s fine in small doses, but it’s capable of growing sneakily, rather like mushrooms in the grass after a couple of rainy days. They pop up out of nowhere, all those springy beige heads.

Your comments, however, spring from a ‘somewhere’. Perhaps not intentionally, but in four sentences, you’ve raised four issues. Madame feels your vent is important and she has something to say about it.

How about we start with the twelve years you have spent on prednisone? Madame is no medical doctor, but she recommends that you talk to your doctor about the efficacy of being on prednisone for a dozen years (and the dose) and whether or not it can be paired with another medication, or whether or not there is something else entirely that could help you as well. The side effects of “moon face” and a big tummy can also be discussed if they haven’t been addressed recently. Madame hopes you don’t allow that to drive you to distraction for the simple reason that for every one enlarged  tummy due to the side effects of medication, there are many more prancing about that have nothing to do with RA or prednisone.

You say that people look at you and you can tell what they are thinking. Madame would like to know how you acquired the skill of mind-reading? Maybe, once in a while you are right Karen dear, and the person staring at you is thinking about your body critically or unkindly. The thing is, there’s not much you can do that would make a difference. Madame supposes you could go into attack mode and demand loudly: “What are you staring at Buster?,”  but she’d rather not see you involved in a brawl or ugly showdown, and besides, she can sense you’re not interested in provoking trouble.

Madame will ask you to consider another possibility, that when people look at you they are relating what they see to themselves, or their mothers, sisters, friends or children. You get the point.  It doesn’t matter what they are thinking, please trust Madame on this, it matters more what you are thinking.

Would you consider for a moment that someone could be looking at you and thinking that you are a brave soul, that it must be difficult to deal with what you are dealing with?

Lastly, she is in full agreement: no you didn’t ask to be this way and no, people don’t always understand things even when you try to explain. Perhaps there’s too much explaining in this world, Madame is plenty guilty of it herself although she tries to curtail the urge. Was there ever a time where people didn’t have to justify their appearance? Explain why they don’t look like fashion plates or  athletes? You are right Karen, sometimes people don’t understand when you explain. Perhaps it’s more than some of the time. So give yourself a break. You own no one an explanation. Not for how you look, or how you feel, or what you are doing in or out of a wheelchair, or whether you are looking at the grass, or looking for wild mushrooms.

Madame is glad you vented, and in case you’re interested, the word comes from the Middle English venten, meaning to furnish (a vessel) with a vent and dates back to 1350-1400. Madame is certain she isn’t that old, but she hopes she has served as your vessel even for a few short minutes.