February 27, 2006
Episode # 2 "Drug Tapers" 2006 Season of
As The Tonsil Falls
Well today, I had my appointment with my new neurologist. I think I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions and during Episode # 1, that I had every intent on firing "TheDrugDealer" and finding a new doctor who would work on my treatment plan with not so many medications.
After waiting a good 45 minutes past my appointment time for "TheTaper" to even come into the exam room, he sat there while I basically recited everything that I had to write down on the medical forms I turned in to the front desk.
He had me do the normal neurological exam stuff, like making fists and flexing muscles, holding arms in a position while they push on you while saying, dont let me push.
Again, I was told that I had basically gone from a fairly healthy person to having 6 different conditions and that Chiari has nothing to do with it. This is frustrating to me as I read every day on my support group that neurologists don't know anything about it and that the one test, the cine MRI, that I need to test for spinal fluid flow... I cant find a doctor to order it for me.
BUT, as I said in Episode #1, I'm not fishing for surgery, I just want to feel better, and I really wanted to get off of some of these drugs, so I ignored the fact that he said Chiari doesn't cause any symptoms at all and waited to see what he would do with my drugs.
Then we sat down and talked about my medicines. Yes, internet, I went to and paid "TheDrugDealer" way too long and by the time the 4 months had past, this is how many drugs she had prescribed. Some of these drugs I had since stopped, but this is the total list since August.
Yes, internet, that is an Excel Spreadsheet. Yes, internet I have formulas set up in Excel to tell me when to call and refill my drugs. Yes, internet I am a geek. Yes, internet, I wouldn't be able to function without Excel... this is part of my OCD.
The first thing "TheTaper" said was that we needed to re-evaluate my medicines and streamline them. That, my friends, was the best thing I have heard in 4 months.
Ok, lets go down the list:
The Aviane is my birth control pills. They help with the hormonal migraines that I get and help keep me partly sane. No need to change.
There are three ways to treat migraines, blood pressure medications such as the Nadolol (that "TheBrickWall" prescribed), epileptic medicines such as the Lyrica and Keppra and Topamax, and anti-depressants such as the Lexapro.
The first thing he tells me is that Keppra and Lyrica are in the same family of drugs and there was no reason to have me on two drugs designed to do the same thing. Um, DUH! Then, instead of having me pick one of the two, he took me off of both (Tapering (Hence, the nickname) the Lyrica down to one pill a day for a week and then quitting) and added Zonegran because unlike the Lyrica and Keppra, Zonegran has been associated with Weight Loss.
Then he increased my dosage of the Lexapro and told me to start taking it in the morning instead of at night. He said that this drug could possibly be causing the Insomnia problems that I have been having.
We decided of the three migraine-onset medicines, that I would stop taking the Axert and the Zomig and that he would give me a new prescription for the Relpax.
The Nadolol is a Beta-blocker (blood pressure medicine) and I am supposed to "Taper" myself by reducing the dosage by half for two weeks and then again by half for two weeks before stopping. This is one of the drugs that I had tried to quit cold-turkey in the past and that I had horrible side effects from doing so.
The Flexeril was one of the drugs that I had stopped taking, mostly because I was physically inable to function on the dosage "TheDrugDealer" had me on. Instead of taking 3 pills per day, now I am going to start taking one at night. This will help with the neck and shoulder pain and will also help me sleep.
The Topamax and Naproxen were drugs that I stopped taking back in October, as I could not function while taking them and were the culprits that caused my fall and subsequent knee surgery two months ago.
The Triglide (high triglycerides) and Nexium (acid reflux) are both medications that I have started since my diagnosis. Both of these medications treat conditions that were apparently caused my the wonderful cocktail of drugs that I was on. Hopefully as I "Taper" off all these drugs, I will be able to get rid of these two also.
The Mobic is the anti-inflamatory drug I took leading up to and just after my knee surgery. I have been off of it since I had my stitches out.
The Vicodin (aka Hyrdocodone) was one of the two drugs that "TheDrugDealer" prescribed for me that I was actually allergic to. She also attempted to give me a cortizone-steroid pack back in September. It for this reason I would like to give a heart-felt thanks to observant Pharmacists who inform patients about possible allergic reactions, especially BEFORE the prescription is filled and paid for.
And lastly, the B12 and Folic Acid. These were two vitamins that were showing deficient (along with a high white blood cell count) in my first blood test after taking the Topamax for 7 weeks. "TheTaper" said he would run a complete panel of blood tests when I go back in 6 weeks for my follow-up. Depending on those results, I may get to quit taking these two vitamins and the Triglide.
Lastly, he told me to go buy wrist braces for both of my hands to help with the numbness in my hands that is caused by the carpal tunnel. I bought some and tried to wear them while watching TV when I got home and I couldn't even stand to leave them on for the 30 minutes that Two And A Half Men was on.
I asked about how my arms and hands go numb when I sneeze, cough, yawn or stretch, to which he basically said... "that it was possible that was a symptom of the Chiari, but to just learn to live with it." This frustrates me since, aside from my migraines, the pain inflicted on my arms and hands when I cough, sneeze, yawn or stretch is horrendous and the exact symptom that caught my Chiropractor and 1st neurosurgeons' attention, which led up to my diagnosis in the first place.
So, for those of you doing the math... I went from 15 drugs and two vitamins down to SEVEN drugs and two vitamins. That sounds like a massive improvement to me. I will also hopefully have a little less stress in the financial department as those 8 drugs that I am no longer having filled will lower my monthly prescription bill from $340.00 to $200.00.
I am going to give the changes from today a chance to work, see if anything changes for better or worse and go from there. I am still frustrated, I really don't like being told that I get to "learn to live with it" for symptoms that really hurt and disrupt my life... but this is the best I can do for the moment.
*If any of you are new, feel free to go back and read thru the Archives and find my posts regarding my diagnosis and the fun road that it has taken me on. Just click on the "My Body Is Falling Apart" category, or even better just read August - January.
**I haven't quite finished going thru all of my archives and reformatting them and uploading the pictures that were lost when I dumped that jerk named Blogger... please be patient, I'll get it done someday.
Posted by FutureFoodTVStar at February 27, 2006 05:22 PM
Wow. WOW!. I'm so happy that you're being tapered off some of those meds. That just seems insane to me. I just hope you also start to see some improvement and relief. I cannot even imagine going through what you're going through.
On a sidenote: Your Excel spreadsheet seems absolutely, positively normal to me.
I am such a nerd. I use Excel still daily even though I am no longer part of Corporate America.
Nothing wrong you with you in that regard, mmmkay? ;-)
Posted by: Suzie at February 27, 2006 10:41 PM
I just don't know what to say about the Excel stuff, honey.
I am so glad your're getting all those damn meds straightened out. That drug dealer was outta control.
Posted by: kami at February 28, 2006 08:58 AM
Yay! You got your meds reduced. That was just WAY too much stuff. I'd say keep checking around with doctors. I went to 3 different ones over the course of 5 years of significant daily pain (and an unneeded wrist surgery) before I found a doc a few months ago, who correctly diagnosed my problem and I got PT to make it better.
Posted by: Lori at February 28, 2006 01:18 PM
hmmmm - looks like ms. nessa knows what she's talking about - at least with the lexapro and flexeril!
Posted by: Nessa at March 7, 2006 09:40 PM