Archive

Archive for the ‘side-effects’ Category

About Heath Ledger’s Performance as the Joker

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Maybe I’m just being captain obvious here, but I just realized something worth pointing out.

When I was watching “The Dark Knight” years ago I was struck by Heath Ledger’s physical performance as the Joker–specifically all of his facial tics and especially what he was doing with his tongue. It never dawned on me, however, that he was imitating actual symptoms except for what was in his own imagination. Ironically I have been on anti-psychotics for about ten years now, and during that time I have always been worried about developing tardive dyskinesia. I haven’t developed TD yet, but recently I realized that it’s pretty much what Heath Ledger was imitating in his performance. I googled it and more than a few people seem to agree with me. In fact many people think Ledger delivered a textbook depiction.

Status Report #13 (Lamotrigine and Lactose Ad Nauseam)

May 20, 2012 3 comments

Here’s the latest update: it’s a week since I’ve stopped the standard Lamotrigine and I still can’t drink lactose-free milk. Last time I stopped taking a lactose-bearing drug (Perphenazine) I was almost immediately able to go back to lactose-free milk. Oh well, I’ll be patient.

I saw my psychiatrist (pdoc) and he put me on chewable Lamictal, but it’s a children’s medication and it only comes in 2mg tablets. The therapeutic dose for an adult is apparently 200mg, so it means I’m going to be chewing a lot of tablets (I guess). It’s either that or don’t take the medication.

My pdoc also put me back on Risperdal, but this time on the oral solution–which is also lactose-free. This means I can get off the Modecate and the Amantadine. Again, I am taking the Modecate instead of the Risperdal because it is lactose-free. I am taking the Amantadine to counter the trembling caused by the Modecate. So instead of two meds I’m now going to take one: Risperdal.

Heaven help me if I ever lose my drug plan because all these oral and chewable alternatives only exist for the name brand versions. You can’t seem to get an oral solution or a chewable form of the generic Lamotrigine or Risperidone.

I wonder what lactose-intolerant people are supposed to do with all these meds that make us sick, and the answer is we’re not a big enough share of the market to matter. They just don’t care about us one way or the other. I guess since we’re not dying it’s not a pressing issue.

Well let me get serious for a moment. When I was taking the lactose-bearing meds my bowel was so inflamed that my rectum was prolapsed (part of my butt was outside my body). Let me assure you how painful that is. I had to take a spare pair of pants with me wherever I went in case some dairy slipped by my notice (sometimes the day before) and I didn’t make it to the washroom on time. Sometimes I just had to walk around with an obvious stain and put something under me where I sat. There was no alternative. Do you go home from work just because you’ve had a little “accident”?

I can’t consume anything that doesn’t have ingredients listed on it and I have memorized a long list of ingredients that are dairy but don’t say they are dairy. I have memorized what I can eat at fast food restaurants (nothing at A&W, Taco Bell, or KFC; almost nothing at McDonald’s or Harvey’s). I have learned to eat pizza without cheese, for example.

It’s no different than if I was allergic to dairy, except I won’t die if I mess up. So in that way I’m very lucky. It’s just that to know it’s the side-effect of a medication and that it’s caused by a totally non-essential non-active ingredient, that makes it infuriating.

Lamotrigine Revisited…

May 10, 2012 3 comments

I was doing great on Lamotrigine and really looking forward to using it–then the usual complication reared its ugly head. The medication is loaded with lactose. I didn’t notice with one tablet, and I thought it was other things with two tablets, but with three tablets I had a non-stop lactose reaction. So I went back down to two tablets, but the reaction didn’t go away. I went down to one tablet (after all I had been on two for two weeks and three for only two days) and still kept having a bad lactose reaction. Tonight has been about a week and I’m going to go off entirely.

My psychiatrist, who is retiring next month, is impossible to get a hold of, so I feel like I’m on my own. I don’t like taking myself off a med on my own, but I had no choice in this case. Maybe my next psychiatrist will put me on the one of the lactose-free versions of the drug (chewable Lamictal or dissolving Lamictal).

Status Report #12 (Lamotrigine, Caffeine, and Sleep)

April 14, 2012 1 comment

I finally started Lamotrigine this week. I had been holding off because I thought it was expensive. With my drug plan it turned out to be less than $6.00. Stupid me for waiting two weeks. Tonight will be my fourth 25mg dose and so far I can only report a runny nose. We’ll see what happens when I ramp up the dose. The last thing I need is to be more sleepy than I already am.

According to my doctor the dreaded fatal skin rash “only” affects children, and it only occurs when the med is stopped suddenly and then restarted at full dose. Hopefully these will not apply to me.

I’m not depressed (this is always my big concern) but I just haven’t had a lot of time to write in the past few days. My mixed mood seems to be better. The agitation and unfocusedness are mostly gone as long as I monitor my caffeine intake. Rather than drinking over a box of 12x355ml a day I’m stretching a box out over three days. In the mean time I’m drinking a lot more water. As a result I’m pretty sleepy during the day, but it’s better than the agitation.

Monday through Friday I’ve started to get up at 4:30am and go to bed at 9:00pm. That’s what has made it hard to do blog writing. Once I’m used to being up so early I’ll be more useful in the early morning. My husband is back at work and in order to carpool with him I need to get up that early (I also have to walk the three dogs). He has to be at work in Toronto for 6:45am and he drops me off in Mississauga at 6:15am. The upside is that I can leave work at 3:15pm when my husband comes to pick me up.

Today, I got up at 7:00am and I’ve had six hours of naps since noon, but that’s because I needed it. I’ll bet I sleep like normal tonight.

Status Report #11 (Things are Better)

April 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Today is much better than yesterday. Not perfect, but much better. The difference is caffeine. My daily routine when I am feeling down is to start the day with a monster coffee (two heaping tablespoons of instant coffee) or a double energy drink. Usually this liquid assault barely phases me. Then I sustain the feeling with about 4L of diet cola during the day. The result is that I can keep my eyes open and not drift off to sleep.

For the past few days, the caffeine has just made me hyper, unfocused, and agitated. I couldn’t even write on paper, and it did nothing for being sleepy, either. I guess it’s because I’m in a mixed-mood.

I switched to water yesterday and I noticed that I felt better, so today I cut the caffeine right back (no coffee and only a litre of pop–I don’t want to get withdrawals) and it has made a big difference. Funny that. Who’d imagine that I’d be a full-blown Java-junkie[1]?

[1] Ironically, I’m a Java programmer. I *am* a Java-junkie.

Today I Was a Coward

March 18, 2012 2 comments

About 15 years ago I was extremely out of shape and my husband and I were walking around downtown Ottawa. I had charlie horses in both legs and I could barely walk. A gentleman went by in a motorized wheelchair and he stopped me and said his legs had come out of place and he asked if I could put them back for him. I did so, of course.

Later I wondered why he had asked me out of all the people on the street and I realized that because of my charlie horses I looked like a physically handicapped person. Either the man in the wheelchair was more comfortable asking me for help, or else he thought I would be more comfortable giving help. We (even if only apparently) handicapped people have to stick together. It just goes to show how artificial unease over handicapped people is.

Of course, it turns out I am handicapped in a different way.

Today in the supermarket there was a man having problems. He was wandering aimlessly about the store, putting random items into random carts, and saying vaguely belligerent things to people. The store staff hadn’t seemed to notice. When I was checking out, he went up to the woman behind me and took her cart from her and started unloading it. The woman was horrified.

Read more…

Status Report #7

March 12, 2012 3 comments

Well it’s been a week since my last Modecate injection and the side-effects have been nearly non-existent. I have joint pain in my right wrist where there was none before, and I have to watch my bladder capacity or else it will leak, and that’s about it. I had one weird blip which is more of a bipolar symptom than a side effect. I was working in my kitchen and suddenly everything I did was extremely important. It wasn’t cosmic godlike important, but it was still very important. Did I open the fridge or not? Did I hold a fork a certain way? Did I look left or right? Did I go into the dining room? Every choice was a grave one and every decision was a triumph. This is the kind of stuff the Modecate is supposed to stop.

At first I thought that the nurse must have messed up the injection, but I decided to wait and see what happened. There have been no more episodes; and no hallucinations; and no voices; so so far so good. I was having some minor hallucinations before the injection, too. One of them is very interesting. A phoneme is a component sound of a word. For example, “Hello” is composed of the phonemes H-eh-l-oh. Imagine hearing a stream of thousands of random phonemes, like a malfunctioning computer voice. That’s what I hear; or rather what I did hear last week. Just for a few minutes. That hallucination is actually kind of fun. There is a related hallucination when I will hear a room full of voices for hours. The voices are just a little too indistinct to understand. I’m quite hard of hearing, so to me it’s just like being at a real party.

Read more…