So as I have stated, I had an adverse reaction to a medication I take regularly, at the end of last year, and I have only started to resolve the problem, at the start of this year. It just so happens that the offending medication is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor I take for my agoraphobia and other anxiety issues. These medications are not the sort that you can simply just stop taking. You must taper on and taper off them or you’re gonna be in one epic and massive world of hurt.
Well, if you’ve known me for any period of time, something you will realize about me is that I am stubborn. I try not to be, I realize how destructive it can be, alas, I am not perfect…so I pitch mental fits, like a 2-year old. If I can not see the point or purpose of doing something “your” way, I just wont do it that way…period. Nothing can be said or done. Enter my medication.
The Adventure Begins…
On the first trip to my dermatologist, he said it looked like lichen planus, we took a biopsy and got on google, searching ‘lichen planus (xxx)’ with every medication I take and there was one study associated with my Cipralex. From this we drew the conclusion that it must be this but to be safe, we wait for confirmation. I was told I would get the biopsy results and should have my stitches out, at that time (biopsy spot on my wrist had two stitches) I would get the results. Two weeks from my appointment was Christmas Eve, didnt realize at the time but, yeah.
On Dec 20th, my sutures looked like they were healed and since I, sadly, have a lot of experience with injuries around my hands, I knew if they stayed in longer, it would be an ugly-ass scar so, enter the stubborn “I have a pair of sharp scissors and I know how to fucking cut thread” girl. The following day, I called to get the results of my biopsy but the doctor is on vacation, because wtf its the week before Christmas and, who isnt? (the lady I was talking to on the phone? maybe?) So she tells me, so apologetically, that the results are, in fact, in the file but since the doctor hasn’t seen them, and signed off on them, she can’t tell me what they are. oh.my.fucking.gawd.are.you.serious… *deep breath* Okay, okay…that’s fair, I get it. What if she suddenly has a stroke and in the midst of telling me what the paper says, she inadvertently tells me I have rectal cancer and Im gonna die in 3 days instead of….oh, I dont know, “yeah its your meds”. I get it, whatever…safety first. Of course I thank her, she is the messenger and I’m certain she sees the stupidity in it also..
In this moment, I have an overwhelming need to just take responsibility for myself, or maybe it was just a rush of frustration, helplessness and desperation. I decided I would start to “taper” myself off my Cipralex. Now. A smart person would, at this point, go do some research about what that safely meant. My IQ is above-average, I’m certainly no hill-billy but, did I do that? No…no I didnt….because I’m stubborn and on the inside, still a lost little girl trying to fake like I got it under control. So with the mental thrashings of a child wildly flailing logic and restrictions off, I decide since I was taking half of my current dosage, not that long ago, I can knock it down by half and be okay.
And I was. Okay. Until Jan 7th, when I went to see the dermatologist for the follow-up, where the results *did* confirm that it was lichen planus caused by a medication or “outside influence, not genetic”. Now…here is the absolute epicenter of my frustration and the ‘inciting incident’ for the pain and suffering that has followed. I blame no one but myself, regardless of the clusterfuck, I chose this and I accept it.
Welcome to the Shitshow
There *is* socialized medicine in Canada. I don’t have to pay for medical care BUT. If I chose to, I can. Now, when I first arrived here, and I was not a resident or eligible for social services and still needing to get my medication, we found a private clinic. My doctor that prescribes my Cipralex is at this clinic, so is my dermatologist, conveniently. You would think, since I just found out from one doctor in the clinic, that a message could somehow be sent to another doctor in the same fucking clinic, that a patient they see is having a reaction to a medication they prescribe causing them to see another doctor in the clinic and how about you change the meds……..but no. I have to make another appointment for a week later, come back and see my main doctor so she can write a new medication on a piece of paper.
My stubborn side is going crazy….are you fucking serious, this is really how it has to be….fuck this, fuck you, fuck Cipralex, it’s been 18 days at 50% dosage, I’m stopping. I’m not taking this medication that I *know* is causing this shit all over my skin, I’m just not doing it. LOL! Not only am I not doing it, I’m just not going to go get a new prescription, either. I’m going to see if I am ready to operate, without meds. I’ve been taking that one for 3+ years.
You know, I was fine for about…eight days. Then there was a sickness I couldn’t shake, cold sweats, dizziness, brain zaps worse than I have ever felt, stopping me in my tracks. Nausea. Profound sweating. For shits and giggles, I looked up what the appropriate taper level is for Cipralex (10% every 3 days; not half for 10 days then cold turkey), side effects for stopping too quickly and how to cope with them. Here is a list of the ones I am dealing with:
- balance issues
- brain zaps
- concentration impairment
- crying spells
- electric shock sensations
- highly emotional
- increased headaches
- over-reacting to situations (my poor partner, seriously)
- tingling sensations
- troubling thoughts
- vivid dreams
It’s been 16 days off my meds. The painful side effects are lessening. I still feel very much like a fire hose that’s on and no one is controlling it, sort of like, Laurey with the lid off. I find myself reacting to everything, whereas prior to this, I felt calm within. I’m trying not to let just that small aspect of this, derail me as it has me asking myself, “Well, was that really progress or was that the pills?” I know I can’t possibly know that answer right now, as it’s still too soon.
Regardless of the amount of pain and discomfort I’m in, I am actually excited to take the cast off and try to walk without the crutches. I know it won’t be easy, and I expect to stumble but, I’m excited and optimistic to try.
Here’s some pretty pictures I took of one of my journal covers.