Friday, February 15, 2008

the sticky-sweet taste of vomit clinging to my teeth

I stopped taking fluoxetine today. Today was only the fourth day since I started taking it; this is certainly not a record for me, but still I worry that I'm not giving the medication a fair chance. Maybe I'm really not.

It's gotten so that I expect that any new medication will make me ill right off. My memory for pain and illness is hazy but somehow the fear doesn't diminish with the sharpness of the memory, so although I no longer remember exactly what it felt like the time trazodone made me ill, or the time Effexor made me ill, I do remember laying in bed wondering if I ought to call 9-1-1, wondering if I was dying. I remember the vomiting, and the wanting to vomit, the dozing for a day and half broken by bouts of pain, the tremors and the rapid heartbeat, the feeling of being about to faint, the feeling of things being very not right.

I remember that no doctor has ever even tried to explain why this happens to me.

Some of this I remember more clearly because it happened again this morning. The nausea, the lightheadedness and tremors, the spacey fatigue. My stomach clenches remembering it.

The worst part of it all, though, is the fear. I got lucky this time. The sickness passed in only a few minutes; by anyone's standards it was almost nothing at all. But when it hit me, I didn't know that was how it was going to happen, and the fear was almost overwhelming. It scares me deep down, this sensation that my body is going wrong. I look into this pit of unknown sickness and I see death, or rather, since nothing is clear but the conviction of danger, I smell death. The scent of it sticks to me and although I don't really believe that taking one more 10mg dose of fluoxetine will kill me still the fear has a solid hold of me and I just can't make myself take it.

I honestly don't know if I'm being prudent and reasonable and coping well, or if I'm just a coward. Fear makes it easy to justify a decision and I suspect that the wise thing to do is to continue taking these pills until they either make me seriously ill for days or my body gets used to them. There's just something about making a clear choice to do something that you believe will harm you (and won't benefit anyone) that is incredibly difficult. It's what kept me from starting this medication for so long, and maybe now it's keeping me from giving it a fair chance to work. I wish I knew, but I can't tell.


Elizabeth McClung said...

I had some very similar reactions to the drugs you describe - and in "Normal" world, when you eat something and you have really, really bad side effects the logical thing to do is STOP. Only here we have doctor's saying things like (in my case), "Well, keep going for a couple of weeks, it sometimes takes a while to kick in" - a COUPLE of WEEKS? - vomiting, sleeping all the time, passing out, dizzy, unable to walk down the sidewalk without walking into traffic (literally) so dizzy.

You seem to be given either SSRI's or a Serotonin Antagonists in the case of Trazodone. I don't know if this is for fibro or depression or PTSD but some people cannot take SSRI, which is why they need SNRI's or NRI's (called "resistant patients").

The thing to remember is that this Brain Science might as well be called, "Lucky Brain stuff that mostly works" since most of the time GP's and scientists have a vauge idea of what works and MAYBE why it works in some/many people. Trazodone, in the first line on the Mental Health Drug list states: "Its mechanism of action in humans is not clear." - meaning, "Hey, this seems to work, let's just keep giving it to people."

Except it doesn't work on some people and for people who react badly to one SSRI will almost always react badly to another (cause whatever the mechanism that does work in other's brains isn't working in there so ya know...move the damn SSRI's)

I just hate seeing/reading someone going through what I went through for years (which was go through 4 drugs or so for a couple months, give up, get strength over the next year and then try again. Eventually found a GP who gave me a very low dosage of an NRI - which in the US is labelled strattera for some reason, and that worked, or a low dosage of an SNRI instead of SSRI and then work up.)

Anyway, I'm sorry this particular reaction is happening to you and your reactions, considering the history of the other pills seems quite restrained to me.

Tayi said...

Thanks for making me feel like I'm not crazy. :)

I just wish the doctors who prescribe these things would pay attention to my reactions to the medication. I think maybe it's a feature of the VA medical system, that the doctors have an approved list of medications that they're allowed to prescribe, and if the first one on the list doesn't work they move on to the second, and so on down the list in order. I'm not sure they're allowed to assume that one medication won't work simply because it's almost identical to the last medication that didn't work. So in order to officially be a drug resistant patient, or whatever, I have to try every single one of the cheap drugs before they can try me on the expensive ones. It's neat.