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Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

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).

I’m not Dead Yet…

April 27, 2012 4 comments

I’m feeling better.

I’ve been using up all my creativity at work and coming home, walking the dogs, and watching TV episodes on my computer, and going to bed at 8pm. I haven’t had much to say lately.

I am up to 50mg of Lamotrigine and I think the only side-effects are are runny nose. I’m extremely lucky.

I have had such bad tremors that I can barely operate a mouse, but my pdoc thinks that is the Modecate and is cutting me back to 12mg every three weeks. We’ll see how that goes.

I could really use some hypomania right now.

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 #10 (My Doctor is Retiring)

March 31, 2012 2 comments

Well, I found out yesterday that my long-time psychiatrist is retiring in July. I’ve been seeing him since 2003 and while I had another doctor before him, that doctor retired after only a few visits. In Ontario it can take 4-6 months to get a new psychiatrist, so if I start now I might have a replacement in August or September. This doctor was a good doctor as far as I’m concerned. He did very little psychoanalysis; his approach was more of asking what were my symptoms and prescribing the meds to control them. I know a lot of people would be horrified by that approach, but it was just what I needed.

I suppose that going to a new doctor will be like starting over, to a degree. I suppose I can just cut-and-paste parts of this blog (maybe he or she doesn’t need to see the post on bullshit), fill in some more detail (did I mention my mother is bipolar?), and print it out. Seriously. On a positive note, I used to work right in downtown Toronto, so my doctor is in downtown Toronto. Now I live and work in the greater Toronto area (GTA), 40km away, so this is my chance to get a doctor closer to where I live.

At the moment I am taking Divalproex and lithium, but for a long time my doctor has wanted to put me on Lamotrigine, which is yet another mood stabilizer–this one also effective against depression. I was on it for a short time a few years ago but I lost my health coverage. Now I have my health coverage back, so we are trying Lamotrigine again. Anything that keeps away the depression is fine by me. If it doesn’t work I can stop it.

Health Insurance Scams

March 24, 2012 1 comment

In Ontario our doctors are paid through our taxes, but not our drugs, dentists, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc. I don’t have to pay directly to see my psychiatrist, or for my lithium level blood tests, but I do have to pay directly for the lithium itself. I don’t know how drugs work in the rest of the world, but in Canada when a drug has lost its patent we get access to much cheaper generic versions of it.

Before I got back on a health plan I paid $19.31 for 150 capsules of lithium carbonate; I paid $81.80 for 120 tablets of generic Divalproex; and I paid $45.94 for 1mL of generic Modecate. This is basically a month’s supply of meds (3 weeks for the Modecate). That’s $147.05, which is half of what my husband and I spend on food, but I think the cost is affordable for something so important.

My pharmacist does a lot to make me feel welcome. Everyone there calls me by my first name, and many of the staff know what I need before I even ask, without even looking in the computer. The pharmacist even signed my passport application back when there was a requirement to get someone in a position of trust to do that.

I was very disappointed recently when I got my first big prescription filled with my new health insurance. The pharmacist told me there was no generic Divalproex to be had anywhere in the city, so he had to give me the name brand version Depakote/Epival for $165.41. Most of that was covered by my insurance, thankfully. I don’t buy his story of the generic suddenly being out of stock everywhere in the city, however. That was just insulting. Of course the pharmacist is gouging my insurance plan. Thankfully he never gouged me when I had no insurance, but the incident has changed my perception of how much I can trust him. Our relationship is more profit motivated than I thought, I guess. Live and learn.

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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.

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