Early this year I was diagnosed with a condition that required a course of cortisone. It was curiosity that killed the cat, and will probably also be my demise: I googled cortisone, read through what it was going to do to me and closed the web page with a shudder. The dose has gradually been reduced over the past few months, but the side effects are still with me.
The day after I took my first pill, all pain was miraculously gone, but I was feeling jittery, irritable, and my vision was a bit blurry. A cat on hot bricks, a wound-up clockwork toy: for the first time in my life I experienced what it’s like to wake up in the morning and be unable to turn over and go back to dreamland. Having leapt out of bed, I felt compelled to clean and tidy the bathroom and bedroom before I could shower, reorganise my drawers and wardrobe as I dressed, and scour the kitchen before breakfast. Anyone who knows me knows how far out of character that is!
Domestication seized me. Cobwebs suddenly waved at me from the ceiling, sunbeams spotlighted piles of dust, things that ought to be shiny looked tarnished and dull. Out came feather duster, vacuum cleaner and metal polish. My brass door handles dazzled, and even my little Italian espresso percolator looked silver-plated by lunchtime. Each time I opened a drawer or cupboard, it had to be de-cluttered and the contents tidied, with clothes folded into neat rectangles of equal size. Ornaments, pictures and photo frames stood to attention, not daring to shift a single degree from the angle at which I placed them, cushions were plumped up and woe betide anyone who moved them an inch or ventured to squash them.
The books on my shelves, arranged by subject matter, jarred my jangling nerves: I wanted a smooth, sweeping line along the top, colours that harmonise next to one another, so they all had to be taken down, the shelves dusted, and the books put back, interspaced with boxes, photos or ornaments, as if “Homes and Gardens” were coming for a photo shoot. Even my basement and the garage received the full treatment, and the recycling bins were bursting. Of course, having scrubbed and cleaned and tidied up and put everything away out of sight, I could no longer find anything. I was exhausted.
This OCD effect has diminished as the cortisone dose has been reduced, though I still find myself unconsciously tidying things that catch my eye. “No, Granny, that’s MINE!” objected my three-year-old great-grandson as I attempted to re-organise the tools on his miniature workbench. I leap into the cold swimming pool and do ten lengths without a murmur: not me at all! Yet in spite of all this hyperactivity, I have put on weight and my face is growing rounder.The upside to that is that I have fewer wrinkles, but my blood pressure goes up and down like a yoyo.
Normally loquacious, I find myself chattering nonstop from dawn till dusk. My mind is teeming, thoughts tumbling around like clothes in a washing machine, tangled and incoherent. I have tried counting to ten before speaking, but never got past five. Friends are clutching their ears and backing away, rolling their eyes in wild desperation. Even my long-suffering psychologist friend is growing weary of my manic hyperactivity, but she has promised to warn me if I become psychotic. Luckily, the computer doesn’t complain about the amount of drivel I type into it. Thank God for my blog!