Friday, April 22, 2011

Bart No Like. Bad Medicine.

The latest Chronic Babe Blog Carnival Asks: Trick or Treat! Halloween is coming soon and we started thinking, wow, medicine is like Editrix Jenni's favorite holiday. Sometimes you get treats, and sometimes you get tricks. We'd love to hear about the ups and downs of your experience. Show us the highs and lows, and the surprises!

Currently I take 4 pills upon waking, 2 vitamins after I eat breakfast, iron at midday/afternoon, 5.5 pills at night followed by another iron pill. It may seem like a lot to swallow (ha ha - that's what she said) but some of those are doubles or a different dose of the same medication. In actuality, I only take 7 different kinds of medication. Five are related to my heart, one to my thyroid and the other none of your damn business. ;)

The only type of medication that has ever proven to be difficult are the medications I take to control my arrhythmia. I won't state which medications that I was taking because everyone's reaction to them is going to be unique and I do not want to scare anyone who may be taking either of these meds or know someone who is. It all has to do with my unique chemistry, not the pills alone. It's like being allergic to peanuts. Peanuts might be DEATH to one person but delicious toppings to an ice cream sundae for someone else.

Pill Face
Most of the pills I take (minus 4)

Bad Medicine: The First Encounter
When I was nine years old, I was put on a particular medication for my recently developed arrhythmia. Gradually, I developed myalgia, confusion, drug-induced lupus and nightmares. Oh, my ticker was doing the best it had ever done up to that point in my life - healthy, strong, responsive! - but I was in constant physical pain and having my first experience with extreme brain fog. The climax came when my mother found me going off to school well before it was time. I stepped outside, backpack on...walked down the path to the sidewalk. Turned towards the end of the street. Walked about two houses down. GOT LOST AND CONFUSED. Like a child walking through the woods. God, THE PANIC!
I forgot where I was going, why I was going there, what I was doing, how did I get there? It was just a jumble of foggy anxiety. Really, the fog in my brain was just so dense it was any wonder I was able to make it back to my house, knock on the door and tell my mom I didn't feel good. It took a little over a week in the hospital to ween me off and get everything under control.

Bad Medicine: Even Badder
Doctors went for another medication when I was in junior high. This time, everyone got a little smarter and removed me from school (removed/kicked out, it's all relative). Man, oh man...what a roller coaster of batshit crazy that was. I developed psychosis immediately. Paranoia, hallucinations, violent mood swings, seething anger, intense mania...oh, the mania! As ridiculous as it sounds, I almost miss the mania. Almost. I was extraordinarily productive during this time, creatively wise. I ate/slept/drank my writing, stayed up to all hours of the night just writing and writing and writing - all by hand. I had containers filled with complete novels (mostly dribble, but the rough drafts of future projects as well). I painted, sculpted, and drew. Despite this, there is no question now in my mind that I was insane.
Unfortunately, my mom couldn't figure out if my extreme behavior was due to me just being an angst-ridden teenager or if it was the meds. So I was like this for a number of months, constantly flying off the handle, smashing anything I could get my hands on in a temper tantrum that could rival any toddler. No fun.
Mom finally came to the conclusion that I wasn't right in the head and by the second half of my 8th grade year I was off the medication. The side-effects gradually tapered off, but as I was never given assistance for the repercussions of going through such an experience, it would not be until I reached adulthood that I realized half of what I experienced during my junior high years was more than likely the result of my medication.

I've never publicly written about this, though I did tell a select few about it a couple of years ago, when I was reflecting on it for the first time since reaching adulthood. It's been a little nerve-wrecking allowing everyone to know this information and get a glimpse of what once went through my brain. I feel that this blog carnival is the perfect opportunity to go public about my experience, even if people will take a step back from me. I have yet to bring myself to read the journals I kept during that time. I know they're filled with ramblings about people that never existed.

Luckily, this story has a hopeful ending. When I was sixteen years old it was decided I need to give another medication another go. I was understandably scared, but I also appreciated the fact that my new doctors were taking this seriously enough to quarantine me at the hospital and observe me for heinous side-effects. At the end of my sophomore year I went in the hospital for a week, armed with a care package from friends I'd met on the internet, filled with a wondrous new music that would stay with me forever. My body - and my brain - took to this medication beautifully and I have been on it ever since.

A treat indeed, given all of the tricks I had to go through to finally get to it!

NOTE: High five for everyone that recognized the Bart Simpson quote.

images one and three from We Heart It

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