Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Medication merry-go-round...

I have a sneaking suspicion that one of my medications has stopped working. This is something that happens pretty frequently for me for whatever reason. Maybe it's my Scottish liver, I don't know. But I'll reach a point where we can't go any higher on a medication due to side-effects or toxicity and it's just not working anymore. Then I have to ramp down slowly off whatever it is I was taking, including going through withdrawals. Once that medication is out of my system, we can then try a new medication and see if it works.

I slowly ramp up on it, reserving 24 hours for any new medication to see how it effects me. I don't drive. I just hermit at home. We generally stay at that dosage level for a week (sometimes longer, depending on the medication). During this time, I see how well the drug works. If it works, I stay at that dosage level for as long as I can.

If/when it doesn't work at that dosage level, we ramp up to the next level as before. I do the same 24 hours, because my reaction the first time may bow be the same as the second or third ramp-up. We continue this process until the medication starts working or we top out.
Sometimes, I can take a medication all the way to the maximum dosage with no effect. Surprisingly fentanyl, a *very* strong narcotic, has absolutely no effect on me (patch or lollipop). Sometimes, I hit a really nasty side effect that means I have to come off the medication immediately. Anything that affects norepinepherin (Effexor) gives me a racing heart beat.

I don't like medication. I'd rather just be able to take care of my needs without the use of chemicals. But my body doesn't always make the necessary hormones for me to stay alive. So, pills it is. But even though it's been over a decade, I still kinda resent them. Prednisone tastes nasty. However, I like it even less when a pill that formally gave me a sense of normal suddenly up and quits.

And it's not just that it stops working. It's that it stops working but my body now considers it part of the environment. So to come off the drug means to suffer the symptoms the medications was supposed to address while going through medication withdrawal. Yeah. It's not fun. Coming off Effexor meant depression, panic attacks, and the sensation that someone was bouncing a tiny rubber ball on the inside of my skull. It was the most disconcerting sensation. Coming off of my thyroid medication means /six months/ of symptoms as my body slowly rids itself of excess.

Also, it's always scary trying a new medication. Gabatril was a particularly scary one for me. For some strange reason, that medication cause the muscles in my eyes to go bezerk, causing my eyes to spin wildly. I could focus them briefly, which would allow myself to see myself in the mirror, but once they started spinning, I couldn't look in the mirror to see. I actually had no idea it was going on until I was taken to my next doctor's appointment. (My driver was too polite to comment.)

With memories like Effexor and Gabatril (to name only two), it makes it that much more difficult each time it comes to a new drug. Medications *scare* me, and rightly so. I'm not so innocent or naïve to think that putting a pharmaceutical in my body, whether FDA approved or not, won't do me great harm. I'm so allergic to sulphas I require an ER visit if I'm accidentally given one. Vencomyacin nearly killed me and that was in a hospital setting.

Life is a fragile, fragile thing and nobody understands that better than someone with a chronic illness. Medications are produced and prescribed because they have shown to have some positive effect on their assigned problem. But that doesn't mean we understand *everything* they do. New studies are always coming out. Too often I have been on some cutting-edge drug and had some strange side effect only to be told, "Well, that can't be possible. It's not in the literature!" Only to find out at a later date that, sure enough, that side effect is in the new published report. In the meantime, my doctor thinks I'm either lying or crazy. Sometimes a doctor trusts what I report, but that's a rare thing in my experience.

It's reasonable for me to not trust medications at this point. They're dangerous. That's why they're given under the care and guidance of a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist. I will put my body in the care of my doctors and try what they suggest. If I'm uncomfortable, I can express that. I can work with my doctor to ensure safeguards are in place. I will treat my medications with the healthy (pardon the pun) respect the deserve.

And someday, the merry go round might even stop!

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