It Never Wears Off

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Drugs are not my first choice. Frankly, they rank somewhere on the third or fourth sheet of choices rather than the top ten. I despise pills and medicines. I was reminded of why this weekend.

Off and on over the last few years I have posted about pain. I live with a fairly significant amount of it on a daily basis, but I have intermittent pain which is crippling. Let me put it in terms which put us all on this page together.

Inane

Some bean counter promulgated a form for all triage personnel to use which asks patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to ten.

 

Jim Kirk and Bones

Pain is subjective. You can get any random ten women in a room and each will tell you childbirth is:

  1. The reason drugs were invented
  2. The most horrific pain
  3. Endurable
  4. Meh
  5. Piece of cake

Compound this with factors like some had drugs, some did not, some had more than one child, some had complications,… The variables which go into pain are virtually innumerable.

Since we are doing math with irrational numbers anyway, let’s add in pain threshold.

I can stand…

On your pain meter what is:

  1. a broken metacarpal (hand)
  2. a broken zygomatic (cheekbone)
  3. a stab wound from a knife (3/4″ wide by 1″ deep)
  4. third degree burns to the bone (foot, both hands)
  5. 13″ incision in the belly with a soldering iron (Cesarean with no anesthesia)

I ask the foregoing of everyone who asks me to rate pain. By the time I get to #4, most of them are over 10. When I get to #5, their heads are swimming, and they stop asking me questions.

The Road to Hell

If you were not tuned to the latest issues of The M3 Blog, you may be unaware I escaped the TCH. One of my first stops was at a medical facility, where I met a physician who asked if the doctor in whose care I was in SC was actually a neurologist. I answered,

That is what the license on his wall said.”

Feeling better already! A doctor who recognized I was not getting the care I needed. He ordered tests which were what the other alleged doctor should have ordered.

Next, he performed (not had someone else do it) tests. I flunked. No great surprise. He asked about another disorder of which I do not complain (for which other patients routinely have surgery to alleviate their “insufferable” pain). I noted it does not bother me and was not the reason for my visit. My complaint was pain which far exceeded what others consider “insufferable”.

Based on his own results and his examination he asked me to take medicine pending my other tests. I balked. I always balk.

You are a PITA.

Why yes, I am. I feel my status as a pain is plausible for the following reasons:

1. Until you can tell me what we are fighting, we are shooting in the dark.

This has been my refrain for the last five years. I am not one for Russian Roulette, with three refills and a follow up appointment in three months.

2. While I do not know everything, I know my reactions in the past… a blank noticeably missing on your form.

I got to reason number one from shooting myself in the head with a few pills before.

3. Give me three reasons.

I am a rational being. Give me reasons why I should take this medicine, and I will be more likely to listen, albeit no more likely to be compliant.

Reasons

1. It has worked before.

Q. For whom? How similar are our histories and symptomologies? For what? Do I have that?

2. It treats the symptoms.

Q. What are they symptoms of? If we mask the symptoms, how will we know when the problem is abated or the symptoms have disappeared?

3. I want to alleviate your pain.

Q. I also want the pain alleviated, yet giving me a pill for pain will not remove the railroad spike through my eyeball which is causing the pain to return when the pill wears off.

Happy Face

I put on my nicest smile and explained I was likely the most non-compliant patient he would meet in his career. I was not in awe of the time he spent in medical school despite my appreciation of the fact he plays an elemental role in our societal construct. I was aware he studied science and not some mystical art to which I was not born of a class privy to the knowledge; therefore, I did not find my requests for plausible reinforcement of his decisions based on information to which I had a right unreasonable.

We made a deal. Based on my scrutiny of the information, I would agree to take yet another new medicine until the results came back.

And I did. Until this weekend.

Beware

Anticonvulsants require a titration period. That is doctor talk for you have to take a little bit of the medicine until your body gets used to it, and then you take more and repeat until you get to the dose you really need to stop seizures. While no doctor has pinned a conclusive seizure diagnosis on me, doctors have been testing me for seizure disorders since I was 14 years old.

All of the drugs in this class come with laundry lists of possible side effects. The sheets are so commonplace and the side effects are so similar to nearly every other drug, the warning labels have little or no effect on most everyone but me. I read them in their entirety. How many of you have seen this or something very similar before?

Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including Zonegran, increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.”¹

Sounds scary until you plug in the numbers. “[T]he estimated incidence rate of suicidal behavior or ideation among
27,863 AED-treated patients was 0.43%”.¹ Statistically, it is an almost nothing chance, right? Less than half a person out of every hundred.

Queen Red Dwyer

Queen of Statistical Improbability

I only have two words of advice. Yes, just two.

TELL SOMEONE!

I had never had suicidal thoughts. I was never the one irritating me; ergo I would have never considered eliminating myself as a solution. Until this medicine. Until this last week. Until it was time to take more because I obviously needed more since my pain was on an scale most cannot comprehend.

I sat at my computer and wrote. I put on headphones to fill my brain with someone else’s sounds to interrupt the synaptic activity. What I did not notice were the tears streaming down my face. My child did. “Why are you crying, Momma?”

Math Functions0.28 seconds of mental math produced results I had cried more in the two weeks on the medicine than I had in the prior two years. The tears had been silent but there. They interrupted the broken sleep and invaded my dreams, the one place where I had been able to escape medicines before.

No, I did not tell my child. I told an adult. My best friend, in fact. We pinpointed the only change in the last month was the medicine and my more-than-just-nebulous thoughts of killing myself and my children. The next person I told was the doctor. We shall see what he has to say about the entire affair when he returns from his vacation.

If you ever feel like you should or need to harm yourself or kill yourself or think the world would be better without you in it, tell someone you trust to help you.

Red Signature


Have you ever had an adverse reaction to a drug? What would be a more effective way of communicating pain to a physician? Do you read about the possible side effects of your medicine?

Hashtags: #sideeffects #suicide #drugs

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¹ Patient information for Zonegran. USFDA
Photo credit: Star Trek, Desilu Studios

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23 Comments

  1. Hi Hun! 🙂

    I had major problems with Chlorpromazine.

    I was on 400mg per day and asleep 16 hours out of 24, chewing my tongue for saliva to alleviate the constant dry mouth/throat and pretty much a zombie to the point my tormentors had to put a dot of a white substance on my right glasses lens as I slept before I bought a new lock to keep them out of my home.

    Once I was on Olanzapine I was much better and my tormentors had quit for the moment so I was able to get my shit together.

    The bad news is I gained weight (20Stone) and grew breasts to the point I had to be given a mammogram!

    I’m OK-ish with the meds, but I am now addicted to them so coming off them causes paranoia, lack of sleep and delusions until my brain sorts itself out and I stabilise enough to function although the paranoid thoughts are still present.

    Having tried to kill myself once before and failed (Why else would I be writing this?) I know how hard it is when you have nobody to turn to and you just feed on yourself until death is the obvious escape route.

    You were lucky this time hun and I’m glad you got help – you’re a good person and I love you to death!!! 🙂

    Hope you find a safer alternative!!! 🙂

    Huge squishy hugs!!! 🙂

    Prenin.
    prenin recently posted..Monday – Quiet Day.My Profile

    Reply
    • The sleep and the weight are common side effects of drugs which alter brain chemistry. What makes us not think one way also makes our brains not do some of the other things we should. Glad yours is better. xxx

      Reply
  2. I have been lucky and never had to take drugs for pain. Drugs, yes, a long time ago and cannot recall why. Broke out in a rash. The rash broke out in a rash. Called the doctor. He yelled at me. “Well stop taking the pills.”
    Uh-huh. You prescribed them. How is this my fault?

    I DO hope you’ll get to the bottom of the source of the pain and soon.
    Tess recently posted..Writing Process MemeMy Profile

    Reply
    • LOL I love how it is always the patient’s fault. Blah blah blah is the majority of what I hear. I am right there with you for immediate answers. xxx

      Reply
  3. Red my thoughts are with you, and yes so many drugs have adverse side effects that hardly anyone reads the small print in the medication box..
    Yes I have been on intense pain killers.. They didn’t alter my mind, just gave me a stomach ulcer which then needed more meds.. after reading more about the anti acid drug I gave up both lots of Meds..

    I haven’t had any pharmaceutical drugs since 2004 apart from to odd headache pill..

    How ever in my teens I was prescribed anti-depressants and yes for a time on these I thought I was going insane.. and although I never attempted to end my life.. The thought of doing so crossed my mind more than once…

    I hope Red that your test results from your Dr show up the real problem, and no one is guessing in the dark assuming a drug will help.

    Much love and I hope you soon are feeling better and Pain Free…
    ~Sue
    Sue Dreamwalker recently posted..A Matter of Opinion~ Judgement & TrustMy Profile

    Reply
    • Is it just me or does it seem massively inappropriate a side effect of an antidepressant would be to depress someone to the point of contemplating suicide? *sigh* I am hoping my acupuncturist will have a significant amount of success in mitigating the pain where pharmaceutical medicine has failed.
      Blessing, sweet Sue. xxx

      Reply
  4. I had a very severe reaction to a drug in the 1980’s which could have killed me, luckily the doctor was on hand and called to give me an adrenaline shot.

    The worst part is that I should not have been given the drug in the first place, so how crazy is that? Anyway that was a long time ago now, but I have never forgotten the awfulness of it and I am sure that I never will.

    When the doctor returns from vacation it would be fitting and appropriate to activate the Zombie option, though after administering a drug that is enough to make one feel suicidal, I doubt there would be anything worth eating in that cranium of his, maybe he should have the next course 🙂

    Next time I hope that your long term suffering will be acted upon with a drug that will be highly beneficial and not the opposite, which is of no use to anyone. Doctors can be real asses sometimes…

    Andro xxxx

    Reply
    • Scarily, creating suicidal ideation is a common side effect of all psychotropic drugs because they change the fundamental brain chemistry. To be frank, I would like to have a name to go with the condition so we could develop a treatment plan to exclude drugs. I give in to them rarely, but never is a far better choice. 😉 xxx

      Reply
      • I agree with you, surely other routes should be explored before reaching for the medication option.

        I think doctors in general offer drugs that are not fully understood and that is where the problems arise afterwards.

        Also a lot of drugs are addictive, mood changing and completely unnecessary, in my opinion. Let’s try alternative ideas first, and only as a last resort use drugs.

        Andro xxxx

        Reply
        • Ironically, pharmacopoeia as we know it has been around less than 200 years. The “alternative” methods are the tried and true ones which have survived centuries and millennia. Funny that, to think of the old ways as alternative.
          xxx

          Reply
  5. I was put on a heart medication that made me feel… well I couldn’t feel. I was in a fog. Didn’t give a s*** about anything. Couldn’t think and didn’t care. It may sound pleasant. It wasn’t.

    Reduced dose, change time of day taking it to bed time. Mainly, all is well now. And I am not dizzy anymore either.
    Mike W recently posted..BiographyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Sounds like a better solution. No, not giving a tinker’s damn about the fact you don’t give a tinker’s damn is not worth a damn, as it were. Great to see you, Mike. I need to come see your pics of Velvet. 🙂

      Reply
  6. I am so grateful you spoke up. I love you.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Your Azz is ShowingMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Too many adverse reactions to too many drugs. The last one, the doctor adamantly denied that the drug could cause any side effects, despite many articles in medical journals that prove otherwise. I believe side effects for drugs are vastly underestimated because most doctors refuse to admit or report that something they prescribed for you caused a problem.

    I’m glad you’re okay and were able to recognize what was happening to you.
    Binky recently posted..Book CritiqueMy Profile

    Reply
    • I agree. Many of the side effects are dismissed as patient complaint which would have emerged on a placebo. No one gets the chance to “not report” mine. I did. Truly, I do not believe there is a drug without side effects. If there were, it would have been lauded as man’s greatest invention. And thank you. xxx

      Reply
  8. No reactions per se but I thought when the hospital who had just given me vicodin said the percocet would be just as effective that it would be true. When suffering from a kidney stone, Percocet does nothing for me

    Reply
    • While they are prescribed for the same reason and both contain acetaminophen, they are different families of -codone drugs. What works for some, will not work for others. I am a statistic for that as well. I can take one and am allergic to the other. Definitely not the same thing.

      Reply
  9. I, like you, read the entire medicine information sheet. My latest med change took me three days to get through all the fine print. It does exactly what it’s supposed to but the side effects suck. Since what it’s supposed to do is stop what contributed to my meltdown and hospitalization last Sept, I am on the fence however I also know from taking the time to read the crap sheet, Getting fat and sleeping a lot and the hand tremors are not me going even more crazy- they’re from trying to fix crazy lol. I am glad you are not on that stuff any more. I also know from the fact I read all that stuff is sometimes the side effects linger long after the med is discontinued.
    I ALSO know – you will speak up. (maybe without actual words but in any way you can.)
    <3 Lizzie

    Reply
    • I have learned how to let someone know. I have been reading the sheets for ages, as in since the sheets became part of the package.
      xxx <3

      Reply
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