Friday, June 29, 2007

Catching Up: Mental Health Edition

Before my brief blog hiatus last month, I was "quacking" up. Heh heh. See, how I call myself the "Unruly Duckling" and then I made a quack-related joke. Funny, right? Maybe those meds aren't quite doing the trick. Anyway.

So, there I was suffering from an anxiety disorder, starting medication and therapy with much optimism. And, despite a slightly rocky start I have to say that I'm as mentally well as I can probably expect to get.

A couple of days after I began taking Lexapro, I thought I was going to have a full-on, raving-lunatic breakdown. Coming back from a off-site meeting to my office I suddenly became completely overwhelmed. I ended up sitting in my car, trying desperately to summon the will to go upstairs, gasping and sobbing while it felt like my skin my going to crawl off my body. The only reason I was able to pull myself together was that the idea of having to explain to my boss that I couldn't come back to work because I was in the parking garage going crazy was worse than actually making it into the office.

Once I collected myself well enough to go to work and act normal, the rest of the afternoon wasn't that bad, especially since a meeting I'd been seriously dreading (for no good reason) was postponed at the last minute. This meeting - a monthly staff meeting we'd been having for at least a year - had already been postponed once because I called in sick the first time it was scheduled. That was when I first knew I had to get some help.

Despite the fact that I was able to suck up the crazy long enough to get through the day, I was rather concerned to find out whether this was part of the natural progression of crazy and it would go away once the meds kicked in or if the meds were driving me more crazy.

Once I got home I dug out the literature that came from the pharmacy when I picked up the prescription to see what it could tell me. I probably should have done this before I started popping the pills, but I was pretty desperate at the time.

Coincidentally, the doctor also discovered a minor bladder infection when I was in for my physical, so she prescribed the antibiotic Cipro for me. I hadn't given much thought to the antibiotics with everything else that was going on, but I glanced at the brochure to see if maybe I could discover something awesome about its anthrax-fighting powers or otherwise nifty. This is what I actually discovered:


* Nausea (5.2%),
* Diarrhea (2.3%),
* vomiting (2%),
* abdominal pain/discomfort(1.7%),
* headache(1.2%),
* restlessness(1.1%), and
* rash (1.1%).

The following were reported as less than one percent:

* CARDIOVASCULAR: Palpatation (feeling your heart beat), heart flutter, fainting, angina, heart attack, cardiopulmonary arrest, blood clot to the brain.
* CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM: Nervousness, dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, manic attack, tremors, irritability, seizures, lethargy, drowsiness, weakness, no appetite, depression, numbness, depersonalization, ataxia ( lack of muscle coordination), agitation, confusion, delirium, toxic psychosis, muscle twitching, involuntary eye movements.
* GASTROINTESTINAL: painful oral mucosa, thrush(oral fungal infection),intestinal perforation, G.I. bleeding, jaundice, difficulty swallowing, constipation, intestinal gas, swelling of the pancreas.
* MUSCULOSKELETAL: joint stiffness, back pain, neck or chest pain, gout flare-up.
* KIDNEY/URINARY: Kidney failure, urinary retention, urethral bleeding, acidosis, nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), increased urinary output, kidney stones.
* RESPIRATORY: difficult breathing, throat or lung swelling (edema), hiccoughs, bronchial spasm, blood clot in the lung, nosebleed.
* SKIN HYPERSENSITIVITY: itching, rash, sensitivity to sunlight, flushing, chills, swelling of the blood vessels or lymph system, swelling of the face, lips, neck, eyes, or hands. Cuticle candidiasis (yeast) and hyperpigmentation.
* SPECIAL SENSES: Blurred or disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, seeing double, eye pain, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, bad taste in mouth.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Elevation of triglycerides and cholesterol. Blood and albumin in the urine, elevated serum potassium, glucose, and albumin. Anemia and agranulo-cytosis (potentially fatal condition where the white blood cell count goes extremely low).
Did you notice that bold part? Nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, agitation, delirium, toxic psychosis? They may be rare side effects, but that risk isn't exactly what I needed while struggling with a mental illness. Not only that, but I wasn't supposed to have any caffeine while taking Cipro because it magnifies the effect. Again, not helpful for an anxiety patient. I had sucked down several cups of coffee during that boring meeting the morning before I nearly flipped my wig.

I figured out that it was the Cipro driving me nuts (nuttier, I guess), but I stuck with it as long as I could in the fear of spawning a super-bug with my improper antibiotic usage. The very day I was done with the stuff, I started to feel better. After all I'd been through, bladder infection treatment nearly sent me over the edge.

Moral of the story: Ask your doctor point-blank about side effects, and read the stuff the pharmacy gives you before cramming any drugs down your desperate maw.

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