Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One pill

Today’s message is really vital, and if you find it so, I’d appreciate you sharing it. I may be blonde, but I’m not usually stupid. I know about this crap, and it still caught me unaware.

Back on the 21st, I wrote that I was “depressed as hell” – that wasn’t the half of it. I was in a very dark hole, a very black place, thinking very very bad thoughts. And of course I hadn’t told anyone about it, or thought of asking for help, because “I can fix it myself”!!!

Wrong. Oh, so very wrong.

Somehow, when listing all those various nasty side effects that my current therapy, Herceptin and Femara, might offer, I neglected the one that is affecting me the most – hot flashes! They are already more frequent and more severe. So the poison palace staff upped the anti-depressant I’m taking, Venlafaxine (Effexor), because it is known to help tone down hot flashes, among other things.

No big deal, right? Because I’ve been taking it for some time, basically because of the hot flashes that returned to haunt me when I had to cut out the HRT (hormone replacement therapy) when originally diagnosed with this little bump in the road. It was working fine, and logic said that more would help more.

Now I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS read the fine print that comes with my prescription drugs. And that fine print is always scary, isn’t it. It reads like the side effects of the poisons I’ve been taking for the last several months. But the pharmaceutical companies have to print it all out for us, have to cover their collective asses, because once in a long while, someone experiences some problems from these drugs. But the doctor says it’s good, and we need it, so we take it anyway. Right?

Well. I’m fortunate beyond words that my incredible circle of friends saw my simple note in that blog posting on the 21st and started bugging me. I wanted to be left alone, but they wouldn’t stop harassing me. Thank goodness! I was suicidal.

After numerous emails and phone calls from my loving friends on Sunday, my depressed chemo brain was forced to step back and take a look at when this all started. It began the day after I took the first raised dose of the anti-depressant. It started with the endless hours of sleep, and went downhill from there. Fast. From being my positive warrior self to a whimpering, tearful suicidal blob took only 3 days. Three fucking days!

I was sitting here blaming myself, thinking I’d finally lost it, I could no longer keep a stiff upper lip and walk tall thru the trauma of this beast – I was forever destined to be a hopeless, helpless, boobless ugly worthless shadow of a woman. And I believed it. Three days! One fucking pill did that to me!

Suzie, my dear dear friend Suzie, is the one who finally pinned it down. She went online and pulled up the fine print for Venlafaxine and line item by line item, it was my symptoms.

I haven’t taken another pill. 150mg of Venlafaxine almost caused my death! That is not an exaggeration. And that is why I hope you’ll share this with friends.

I knew this could happen. I’ve seen it happen to other people, to friends. As I said earlier, I’m usually not stupid. But this shit can take over, with no warning, and you CAN lose yourself…anyone can. I did.

There is no blame to be laid anywhere here. We all know that most doctors now agree that depression is a caused by a chemical imbalance in your system. Unfortunately, Western medicine chooses to use more chemicals to bring the imbalance back into balance :o) Unlike the Eastern cultures which work to bring your chi or qi or however you choose to spell it back into balance with acupuncture and herbs and meditation. Whatever method, it’s trial and error and experimentation. My last little experiment was a total failure.

I talked with my favorite doctor yesterday, the day after our diagnosis of my troubles, and she confirmed that, although very rare, it happens – an antidepressant can make depression worse – she called it an oxymoron. No shit.

I had taken the upped dose for 6 days, at bedtime. Monday morning, about 36 hours since my last pill, I felt like myself again. And today is even better. If my angels hadn’t been watching out for me, I don’t know where I’d be today.

Please, please, look after yourself, and for sure, keep an eye on your friends and loved ones for any unusual behavior. It could be as simple as a new pill.

The Animal Rescue Site

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