I’ve made a lot of posts recently, and will probably continue to post for a bit longer, about the holidays. But let’s get back to business for a few minutes, shall we?
In a post recently I talked about how I’ve thought about going off of my meds but won’t due to the consequences. So let’s look at the meds I take
I’ve been on lithium consistently for 14 years now. I tried it when I was in my early 20s, but thanks to the negligence of the doctor I was seeing I ended up in the hospital with lithium toxicity. I was hesitant to try it again after that experience, but I wasn’t having any luck on any of the other mood stabilizers I had tried, so with the assurance of my doc that he would monitor closely and not disregard any side effects that I was feeling. Turns out he had gotten ahold of my previous doc’s notes and case file and the old doc I had been seeing had been increasing the dose quickly as I wasn’t getting total relief without doing bloodwork in between. By the time I got to the hospital my levels were almost double the higher end of the therapeutic level, and anyone that’s been on lithium knows that the therapeutic levels runs very close to the toxic range.
As it turned out, I respond really well to lithium, but I need a lot of time to adjust to the meds and to see any relief. So in my world, lithium is the workhorse. It’s the backbone of my regimen. We’ve learned over the years what the max dose I can take is, and that’s where I stay. Unfortunately, because of this we can’t adjust the dose when things get a little rough, even though it might make me feel better, ultimately it’s not a long term solution or a good idea even the short term.
I’m well aware that long term lithium usage can lead to a host of problems, but I don’t really see how I have a choice in the matter. I really didn’t respond to any of the other meds I tried, and it’s a little late in the game now to do any major changes. And to be honest? I’m scared to go off of the lithium. It’s been my constant companion for the better part of my adult life. I know what to expect on lithium. I know how I feel, what the side effects are, what’s safe to take. The probability of having major liver problems down the road is a bridge I’m going to have to cross when I get to it. But maybe it’s worth bringing it up with my psychiatrist and seeing what he says.
Zyprexa is a more recent addition to my regimen. I had been on Risperdal for awhile, mainly because while Abilify worked like a dream, I had severe side effects that made staying on it untenable, and risperdal seemed to work well for my mother so there was the thought that it might work well for me. I stayed on it for awhile even though the side effects sucked, although not nearly to the scale of the Abilify. I didn’t mention the side effects to my doctor for a long time, I just figured that that was the price I was going to pay to feel some semblance of normal. I mentioned one of them in passing to my doc and he kind of yelled at me in that these were things that he needed to know and I didn’t have to deal with these side effects, we’d find something else.
Thus, Zyprexa entered the picture. And I quickly realized that what I felt on the Risperdal wasn’t normal, wasn’t good. I was existing, but barely. I started to feel like a real person again. The nice thing about the Zyprexa is that I can maintain at a lower dosage, and if needed double it for awhile, and then go back down once the worst has passed. It’s nice having a medicine in my arsenal that’s a little more flexibility that the lithium and I can change dosages as needed.
I added the Vit D into the arsenal a few years ago when I was working a lot of night shifts. I had bloodwork done and they checked the levels and my vitamin D was really low. So my doc added it in, 1 pill a day from spring equinox to fall equinox, and two the rest of the year. My psychiatrist decided that this was a good idea from a psych perspective, so he’s kept me on it in those dosages. I’m honestly not sure how much benefit I get from this, but there’s no real downside, so I stay on it.
The Zyprexa makes me a little lethargic in the morning and it would take me some time to really get going, so my psychiatrist recommended this before bed to give me a little boost when I wake up. It has helped. I don’t get the lethargy in the mornings anymore and I’ve found that I’m generally ready to start the day when I get up now, which is something I’ve had a problem with for years. It’s turning out more and more that mornings are some of my most productive times during the day.
Fiber and probiotics
A number of years ago I had a kidney infection that landed me in the hospital as I was septic. The high doses of heavy antibiotics that I was given (which were absolutely necessary as I could have died) absolutely nuked my gut biome. For the last five years I’ve been on and off of different supplements and fiber products to try to get my intestines to work some kind of normally. I think I’ve finally found a combo that works. Unfortunately my GP has pretty much told me at this point that this is probably going to be something I deal with the rest of my life. I’m not mad at the hospital, but the situation left them no choice but to hit me with heavy duty antibiotics. And this is the result. But at the end of the day, I’m kind of lucky to be alive after that ordeal.
So yeah, that’s my regimen. I’m not wild about the thought of having to take any kind of pill for the rest of my life, but there we are. That’s my reality.
Stay safe, friends!