There’s another side-effect, however–it’s a greatly decreased appetite and, I’m discovering, a decreased capacity for food. Not only do I not particularly want to eat (I’m simply not hungry), but when I do get hungry and eat, more than a little causes a vague queasiness that makes me wary of eating much next time.
I’m on the fence as to the good or bad of this particular side-effect. And it definitely is a side-effect: I was not experiencing any sort of appetite dampening (except that which I could effect by will-power alone) before I started taking Plaquenil.
Thus, while I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally (!) dropped my weight into the 160s (!), I’m a little concerned about general nutrition in the process. The bottom has dropped out of my caloric intake. This is … good. I think. But it’s also, inevitably stressing my body. I had an appointment with a VA dietician the other day. She told me that to lose weight, I should be eating approximately 1,400 calories per day, preferably in complex carbs, lean protein, and lots of vegetables, and that I should resume walking at least a half-hour per day. While I haven’t counted my actual caloric intake since I started the new medication, I’m very doubtful that I’m even reaching 1,000 calories per day. (Achy hips, either from rheuma or bursitis, have been an excellent excuse not to walk, too.)
And even so … hello, 160s. I can see the 150s beckoning hopefully in the near future.
Of course I’m ecstatic to have finally broken that miserable 170s plateau, the one I’ve been stuck wandering up and down for months and months now, in spite of mostly mindful eating. (“Mostly” may well be the operative word, here, of course.) But I’m also well-aware that my body needs to be filled with the best, high-octane fuel I can give it. To that end I’m eating no “bad” foods. Everything that goes in is good stuff, food that my body can use the most efficiently. Now I just need to work out a way to force a little more of it into the tank.
I think I’ll switch to six small meals each day versus three larger ones. Perhaps my irked tummy will accept smaller quantities a little more often. It should work. The other hurdle I need to overcome is appetite. This is unfamiliar ground for me. I’ve never not had an appetite; being hungry didn’t matter. Now, I’m finding it hard to eat at all. Not only am I not hungry; the thought of food is utterly unappealing and nothing “sounds good.” But I’m working on that. My body is a complex engine. It cannot function on water and air alone. I can do this.
In the meantime, I’m very pleased that my clothes feel loser again, and that I can actually feel my hip-bones through the slowly thinning layer of fat that pads them. My behind is smaller. Most of my shirts seem to have grown a size larger overnight.
I’d like to be able to say that the rheuma has taken a powder along with the pounds, but so far, nothing has changed that way. It’s early days, though. Plaquenil can take months to show any real effect, so I’ll be patient. I’m grateful that, for the moment, my daily flares are staying mostly at the low end of the pain-scale; the few that reach into the middle of the scale are very short-lived. I want to believe that all of this due to the lower inflammation levels in my body brought about by a couple of years taking Arava and sulfasalazine daily.
Hope springs eternal. I’m enjoying this new, slightly increased lightness on my feet. I believe I can fix my current eating/queasy stomach issues. Now I just need to convince myself that my wee buddy Finny and I should take a good, brisk walk today. A half-hour’s worth. Surely my stupid hips can handle that.