Friday, January 27, 2012

waking up from a long winter's nap

I have been asleep for 4 weeks.  Looking back, my Topamax experience has been a wild ride and while I'm disappointed that it wasn't the easy fix that I was hoping for, I'm glad to say I've tried it and now I know better.

I went in with an open mind, not paying too much attention to the online complaints about this drug's horrible side effects and for the first two weeks, it wasn't so bad.  My initial fatique dissipated and I must admit that I enjoyed my out-of-character lack of appetite.  Life is a lot easier when you're not dreaming up fun dishes to cook each night!  I laughed at my inability to find the right word at times and only experienced minor frustration with my suddenly absent concentration skills.  Afterall, it would all go away at six weeks - that was how long I was committed to trying it out.  I hunkered down, toughened up and dreamed of headache-free days.

But when week three began at a higher dose,  my body hit the brakes like nobody's business.  What felt like fatigue soon changed to something unrecognizable, that in hindsight I can only call depression.  While throughout the day I thought things like, "I feel like I'm dying," or "This must be what people going through horrible treatments like chemo feel like," I still felt the need to go on, to make it work for both my family and me.

A trip up the stairs resulted in full-blown stars and lightheadedness, I lost the ability to be social in anyway without almost painful levels of concentration and my motivation to do anything fell off the radar.  I was losing about a pound per day and rememberring the previous day as if I'd been totally drunk.  I didn't care what I looked like or wore and as soon as Mike came home at the end of a day, I went right to bed, only to sleep in fragmented bursts, broken up by unsettling dreams and sleepless hours.    This fed my unimaginable fatigue, making each day harder than the one before, and leaving me in tears at some point each day.

Sunday morning, I read an article by Neil Patrick Harris, the story of his lifetime relationship with partner, David Burtka.  It was well-written and moving and made me realize one thing, I had felt literally nothing in the last four weeks; I was not engaged with my life at all and I missed my life.  I called Mike and told him that I had to get off the Topamax.

So, I did. I am.  I'm on the end of the 5 to 7 days it takes for what turned out to be poison for me, to leave my system.  I am feeling things, I am happy, I have motivation and plans, I no longer feel like a spectator in my own life.  Oh yeah, and with the return of my life came my headaches.  And my appetite!

When I let my doctor's office know that I was quitting, they immediately tried to shove another preventative down my throat; this time one that alters the way your heart beats.  I thanked them, but declined.  Instead, I'm seeing a holistic chiropractor with hopes he can help me figure out how to heal myself.  I'm jumping in with hopeful heart and knowing one thing for sure:  this treatment has no adverse side effects.  Right now, that's exactly what I need.

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