Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 9 - More Crap and another twist

Well, my doctor called me back on Thursday, and I am now on High Blood Pressure medication. He's thinking that perhaps this was NOT caused by the Venlafaxine, because it went right back up after being off it. So, I am now taking 10mg of Lisinopril. At least I'm supposed to be. I got the prescription filled Thursday night, but have not been able to bring myself to take it. Shit, I'm a 42-yr-old woman. I shouldn't have to be dealing with this yet! I suppose it was inevitable - my dad had severe hypertension for years before dying of a massive heart attack almost 3 years ago. My mom is on HBP meds. I just didn't think it would happen this early for me.
Back on one of my first posts, someone asked me if I ever smoke marijuana to relax myself. I replied that I had, but with a teenaged son in the the house and my addictive nature it wasn't the best thing to be doing. Well, I broke down Thursday thinking about having to take this medicine, and went to a friend and bought a bag of weed. I have to say that it really helps - I even did a "before" and "after" blood pressure reading and it went from 130/100 to 110/90. Still high for me, but at least I feel like I can buy some time to think more about this medicine. I called my doc and voiced my fears and his nurse said it was the safest ACE Inhibitor out there...but what does that really mean? Look at some of these personal stories
So, I like being relaxed, but I don't want to be high, per se. Is there something that can give you the beneficial, healing properties of cannabis without being stoned? Well, according to a friend of mine, hemp oil is the answer. He has used it first-hand, and knows it has healing powers. Watching the video about the man with Parkinson's was very powerful to me. My friend has agreed to make the oil for me if I will go off all meds for 90 days. So, this blog is taking a turn. Some people will decide not to follow, some will be more intrigued by the idea and will follow closely over my 90-day cure. I just know that if this works as well as these men claim, I will be a very vocal proponent for the legalization of marijuana and the production of the oil as a cure-all. The pharmaceutical companies have everyone so duped that their poison is good for us...only because they know they can't patent marijuana and its products.
So, if this twist has turned you away, I wish you luck and I will continue to follow your blogs. Just do me a favor, okay? Check back in about 90 days and see how I'm doing.
If you decide to follow my progress, I promise to report as often as possible (I will shoot for every day, but I can't promise!) and be as honest and detailed as I can. I'll let you know when I start.
Oh, and if you're concerned about me going off the meds, I will still be getting regular check-ups from my Doctor, and I'm currently looking for a Naturopath familiar with hemp oil in my area.
PS....I am also starting a diet and exercise program. I am telling you my starting information so I can keep a log. There's nothing like telling the world your weight and BMI to get you off your butt and doing something! I have turned from a mushroom on the couch to a things have spread from the spot I'm planted, across the coffee table, the bookcase, the floor...everything within reach! current weight is..........170.4 (I've lost a couple!)
and my current BMI is......................... 35%!!!!!
Anyone willing to join me?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 7 - CRAP

OK, it's Day 7 on the Citalopram and my BP and heart rate are through the roof again. Dammit! I was really hoping this would be the med for me...
Awaiting a call back from the Doc. Meanwhile, my BP is 147/113 and my heart rate is 121.
Well, I'll let you know what happens next. Anyone else having this problem with their meds?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A true inspiration

What would happen if we all went off our meds? Would our lives turn out this well?

(Click on the title - A True Inspiration - for the link. I can't get it to post in the body).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another new med

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since I last posted!

I spent the weekend after my little hospital tour relaxing and being taken care of. My husband was so good to me - my potassium was low, so he made sure I had a banana and a glass of OJ for breakfast every morning, and bought me a multi-vitamin at the store. On Mondays I babysit for a 3-yr-old girl that I absolutely adore. I've been taking care of her since she was 6 months old. The first year and a half were full-time, now I'm down to one day a week. She was in a lazy mood Monday, so I was thankful for that. We snuggled, watched TV, napped, read books, and went and picked out my Christmas tree. That night, I was able to get the house decorated for Christmas.
The next morning, my mom and I drove to McMinnville, OR, to stay at Mcmenamin's Old Oregon Hotel. For those of you not from the NW, McMenamin's is known for taking historical buildings, restoring them, and turning them into quirky hotels. They also brew their own beer, so each location has at least one or two or five bars in it. We went to The Kennedy School a few years ago, and drank a pint or four at the Detention Bar, and watched a movie in a big comfy recliner in the Theater. You can order a beer or a snack at the Theater Bar and take it back to your seat during the movie. Fun!
This McMenamin's property was located in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley wine country, and we wine-tasted our way back north on Wednesday after staying Tuesday night. It was a nice couple of days!

Thursday I had a follow-up appointment with my Doc. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my BP was completely normal. We are both convinced that it was a reaction to the Venlafaxine that shot my blood pressure up so high. As far as my "abnormal" EKG that got me admitted to the hospital - it seems that 5% of the population has this "abnormal" reading as their "normal"...hmmm - I think those odds could be put to so much better use somewhere else...
My doc also thinks I've been on Effexor XR long enough, so he has now prescribed Citralopam. Let's hope I don't have the reaction I did to the Venlafaxine! And I'll be pissed if I gain 40 pounds!!
Awful side effects - here we go again!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Well, I went to my Dr. appt at 3:30 on Thursday. My BP and heart rate were still high, so he decided to do a quick EKG. I don't think it's a good sign when you're sitting IN your Dr's office, surrounded by millions of dollars worth of medical equipment, dozens of people with medical degrees, etc., and he tells you to "sit tight, because I'm calling the paramedics". AAAUUGHH!! WHAT?!
So, long story short, I spent 24 hours in the cardiac unit being poked, prodded, injected with who-knows-what that would probably set off national alarms if I weren't in the Nuclear Medicine find out that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MY HEART.
After telling my story to dozens of nurses and doctors, I can tell you at least two of them told me that they DO NOT LIKE EFFEXOR. Wow.
So, now what? I've been off the Venlafaxine since Tuesday. Last night, for the first time in weeks, I slept. Twelve hours. (I heart Ativan!) My arms look like I've been shooting up for a while. It took 5 tries to get an IV started, and the bruises and swelling are about the size of silver dollars at each injection site.
I'm supposedly fine, but having to lay down for 15 minutes after taking a shower and getting dressed is not fine to me. At 80, maybe, but not 42.
So, my little journey has taken a turn.
Hang on, folks, it's going to be an interesting ride.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

and another...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was fine, mom and bro came Wednesday night and we had a lot of fun playing cards and board games. Cranium is one of our favorites. Unfortunately bro got a little drunk and we had to spend most of the time listening to him cry about his break-up earlier that day. But, just like the last 10 times this year, I'm sure they'll be back together before the week is out.
Other than burning my mashed potatoes, forgetting the cranberry sauce, under-cooking the pumpkin pies, and over-whipping the cream, everything was delicious, and I can call it a success.
Over the weekend, I started feeling worse (with the side-effects). It's been almost 6 weeks, and I thought I was through the worst part. Tuesday I felt worse - racing heart, shaky hands, shortness of breath, and yesterday only proved to be worse. Add to the fact that I hadn't slept at all those three nights, and I was not feeling well at all! Emotionally, I was a wreck. I live in Washington state, near Tacoma. We all woke up to the news Sunday morning that 4 policemen had been executed in a local coffeeshop. A family friend happens to be a sheriff's deputy from the same area, and we spent most of the day wondering if he was OK. It wasn't until later in the day that they announced that the officers were all from Lakewood - not his jurisdiction. It wasn't until after that announcement that I felt I could call him. He is a wreck - he knew all four officers very well. The Sheriff's deputies work very closely with these "city" cops, and this has been a huge blow to our entire community. Thank God they killed the bastard who did this. Details have come out that he boasted over Thanksgiving dinner that he was "going to kill a bunch of cops, a bunch of kids at a daycare, and as many people as he could at a major intersection." The fact that this murderer was even out of jail is an outrage. Google "Maurice Clemmons" and you can find out more about why Arkansas then-Governor Mike Huckabee commuted this man's 95-year sentence in Arkansas, leaving him free to come to our state to commit this heinous act. Whoo - sorry, I didn't mean to go all political on you. Obviously this is something very fresh in all our minds, and it will be a long time before it's forgotten.
So, back to my side effects. Yesterday, I decided to check my blood pressure because I didn't like how my body was feeling. I think you could have knocked me over with a whisper when I sat staring at the numbers 153 over 111. Yes, go back and read that again. Or here, let me just say it again. ONE FIFTY THREE OVER ONE ELEVEN. My heart rate was 96. I'm sure everything shot up another 10 points in the next 10 or 15 seconds. You see, I have one of THE most normal BP's of anyone I know. My baseline is 110/70, and it's been known to be even lower at times. I immediately called my Dr's office, and he told me to quit the Venlafaxine NOW. No gradual weaning of doses, COLD TURKEY. Aw, crap!!! Has anyone done that before? All I can say is, I am going to be very sick for the next few days. He did prescribe some Ativan for me, and I was able to get a little bit of sleep last night. I took my BP before I even sat up and it was 130/100. Now that I've been up and around and writing about Maurice Clemmons, I wouldn't be surprised if it's way up there again. Crap. I was right. 150/110. Well, I have an appointment at 3:30 this afternoon. I'll let you know how it ends up.
Oh, and another cherry on top? In August I got a speeding ticket, and I checked the box on the back asking for a hearing and mailed it in. Yesterday I got a letter saying I failed to appear and my license will be suspended effective 1-14-10. Oh, goody. After calling DOL, I was informed that they had mailed me my hearing date on the 20th of August. My court date was November 24. Since I missed the hearing, I have no choice but to pay the $206 fine. Right, like I HAVE $206. Fortunately they were nice enough to put me on a little payment plan. Yay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A difficult week

The title says it all...this has been a very difficult week. Between not sleeping and a myriad of other side effects from the medication, and the death of another one of my son's friends, I have found it very hard to cope recently.
My youngest son is 15, and someone he'd known since 2nd grade passed away in February. For a long time, they didn't even know what had happened to him. He was having flu-like symptoms, then died in the elevator at the hospital. They found out later that he had viral myocarditis - a virus that attacked his heart.
Then, a week ago Monday, I had to tell my son that someone else he knew had wrapped his car around a tree going 80 mph. He died instantly, but his passenger was OK after a few days in the hospital. My son didn't know this boy as well as the other one, but they bonded immediately the first time they met. He was very kind, polite, funny, charming - the kind of person you want to be around, and you hope his attributes will rub off on your own children. His funeral was extremely difficult. His little sister and best friend was walking around in a daze. She turns 16 in a few days. I am very worried about her. I'm hoping my son will continue to be there for her, as he is now. She and her brother were inseparable.
The medication is killing me. I thought I'd be past all these side effects by now, but instead I'm getting new ones. My hands shake, I feel nauseous all the time, I'm still not sleeping, and I can't concentrate on anything. But on a good note, I got a letter from my insurance company saying the Effexor XR would be less expensive then this generic, venlafaxine. Thank goodness! I was about to call my doctor and have him switch it anyway.
Well, I'm getting started on my Thanksgiving dinner. My son is flying home tomorrow, and my mom and brother are coming over. I'm trying not to stress out too much. I've got myself pretty organized, I just wish someone else was coming over. Then my mom would have someone to talk to other than just me, (my mom and brother are a whole other subject...I could write a novel about them!), and my husband would have someone to talk to other than my brother. Should be fun. If any of the rest of you are like me, the Holidays can sometimes push me right over the edge, then I spend the month of January in bed.
Let the festivities begin!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

3 am

What is it about 3am? I've heard it called the "dead zone" or "witching hour" on those paranormal shows. I would love to be in the dead zone right now!
It has been a tough couple of days. I have been waking up, like clockwork, at 3am. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I get to sleep in until 3:15. It doesn't matter if I go to bed at 8pm or midnight, I still wake up at 3. I try to hang on as long as I can every night so I don't get into a pattern of 8pm - 3am. That won't work 'round these parts.
Taking my medicine in the morning doesn't seem to be making a difference, and I really have a hard time remembering, so I guess I'll go back to taking it at night, at least I know it will be taken at the same time every day. Which is EXTREMELY important - especially when you first go on the meds. Your body will take several weeks to adjust. Oh, and the list of side effects I wrote about in one of my first posts?
Well, let's see...

Headache? Check
Drowsiness? Check (Unfortunately that hits at 5pm!)
Dry mouth? Check
Dizziness? Check
Insomnia? CHECK!
Sweating? Check! (Night sweats are especially fun!)
Constipation? Check
Shakiness? Check
Diarrhea? (Some people may ask, but didn't you check constipation? Answer: Yes)
Yawning? Check
Chills? Check
Decreased sex drive? Check
Gas? Check
Weight gain? Check (Of course - I couldn't be one of those that actually LOSES!)

OK, so this is what I've been dealing with the last few weeks. Someone who hasn't been on meds yet but is thinking about it - just be assured that these side effects really are temporary. I've been through this before in varying degrees, trying different drugs and combinations of drugs. I finally found that a combination of Effexor XR and Trazodone worked for me, but I made the mistake of thinking I could go off them myself. (We didn't have any health insurance, and I would have had to come up with another $175 each month until my husband went back to work, plus another 60 days' waiting period until it kicked in). I figured drinking my way through the withdrawals would be a less expensive option. I do not recommend it. DIY withdrawals, without the supervision of an MD and your therapist if you have one, can cause you to sink into a much lower depression than you were in before. That's exactly what happened to me.

Ok, well, I think I'll go turn on the TV for a little while and see if I might fall asleep on the couch. I'm sure I have a great variety of infomercials to choose from.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh Sleep, why do'st thou forsake me?

Ode to Sleep

Oh, Sleep,
Oh, Sleep,
Why did you go away?
I sang your praises on my blog this week.
I told everyone I thought you were sweet!
You visited one night, and ended up staying.
"Please come back!" you left me a-praying.
But you did not come back -
not that night nor since,
If you don't come soon -
they'll have to call an ambulance!
Please, Sleep, I beg of you -
come back and stay a night or two!
Oh, Sleep,
Oh, Sleep,
Why did you go away?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I love sleep!

Wow, I actually got a full night's sleep last night! It's incredible how much better you can feel with a full 8 hours. Insomnia is the main side effect (for me) of the medication. I'm on my second week of Venlafaxine, and tomorrow I increase the dose again. The reason for my great night of sound sleep? I forgot to take my medicine last night. Another reason to start taking it in the morning.
I actually had a pretty good weekend, my mom came up Friday night and we watched A River Runs Through It. Saturday was wet, gray, windy, and just plain stormy. I didn't want to leave the house, but my mom talked me into going to the hardware store for some paint and other things we needed, and to the grocery store to get the ingredients we needed for a scrumptious-looking soup we saw being made on TV. We made the soup and some homemade french bread, then after my mom left I painted the spare bedroom. For the first time in 16 years, I will have a guest bedroom! My older son moved out this summer to go to school. His younger brother moved into his old room, and now we are fixing up his bedroom as our new guest room. I have an old iron bed frame that my husband spent yesterday sanding down and painting. So today, we'll put the bed together and get everything set up. Yay! I love it when something actually gets completed. Now I can cross another item off my 43Things list!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oh, to be a cat!

Cats are Wonderful Friends

Gentle eyes that see so much,
paws that have the quiet touch,
Purrs to signal "all is well"
and show more love than words could tell.
Graceful movements touched with pride,
a calming presence by our side --
A friendship that takes time to grow --
Small wonder why we love them so.
~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A raucous cacophony

This morning I was kicking back, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee when I heard the sound of crows raising holy hell outside. I mean, A LOT of crows! (Think Alfred Hitchcock!) When I went out to see what was up, a very large red-tailed hawk was being dive-bombed by several dozen crows in one of the large fir trees in my yard. The hawk flew up, and dangling from its talons was a baby crow. Almost immediately, the dozens of crows swarmed the hawk, which lost hold of its prey. The baby bird fell to the ground on the other side of the house. While the crows chased the hawk away, I went to find the baby bird, to see if by some miracle it had survived. I never found it. At first this made me very sad, sad for the baby bird and sad that I had to watch something so small and helpless being killed. But then, I started realizing what had just taken place. One crow called for help, and dozens of crows from all over showed up. They banded together and went after the predator.

I'm hoping that as this crow calls for help, other crows from all over will show up and band together to help me defeat MY predator.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Comfort Food

When you're feeling like the whole world is against you, sometimes all you need to make it better is a bowl of homemade soup. I've had a butternut squash from my garden sitting on the counter for a while now, and I decided it was time to try something new. I personally don't care much for winter squash. All the butter and brown sugar in the world can't cover up the mushy texture, so I just don't cook them. I did, however, decide to grow them this year. For whatever reason. Probably because my husband actually likes it. Too bad I don't like him enough to fix it for him. Just kidding, I did bake the first one just for him.
So, here's this thing sitting on the counter. I wanted to make some soup, but wasn't up for the "pumpkin pie" taste with cinnamon and cloves. So I found this recipe
Oh dear Oh my! I LIKE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP! This recipe was different, and that's what I wanted. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With a Kick. Try it today. Your soul will thank you.

Monday, November 2, 2009


It's an unhappy by-product of the happy pills. Last night was my first bout. I woke up at 12:30am and never went back to sleep. Mama ain't happy at all, folks! So, I'm up, and I was doing some research on Venlafaxine. Here are some of the side effects we have to look forward to:

From the following website...

* Nausea -- up to 58 percent of people
* Headache -- up to 26.1 percent of people
* Drowsiness -- up to 23 percent of people
* Dry mouth -- up to 22 percent of people (see Effexor and Dry Mouth)
* Dizziness -- up to 23.9 percent of people
* Insomnia -- up to 22.5 percent of people (see Effexor and Insomnia)
* Nervousness -- up to 21.3 percent of people
* Loss of appetite -- 17 percent of people
* Body weakness -- up to 16.9 percent of people
* Sweating -- up to 19.3 percent of people
* Constipation -- up to 15 percent of people
* High blood pressure (hypertension) -- up to 13 percent of people
* Ejaculation problems -- up to 12.5 percent of people (see Effexor Sexual Side Effects)
* Anxiety -- up to 11.2 percent of people
* Shakiness (tremors) -- up to 10.2 percent of people
* Diarrhea -- up to 8 percent of people
* Yawning -- up to 8 percent of people
* Chills -- up to 6.8 percent of people
* Vomiting -- up to 6.8 percent of people
* Indigestion (dyspepsia) -- up to 6.7 percent of people
* Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction or just ED) -- up to 6 percent of people (see Effexor and Impotence)
* Blurred vision -- up to 6 percent of people.

Oh, and if that's not enough:

Other common venlafaxine side effects (occurring in 1 percent to 6 percent of people) include but are not limited to:

* A decreased sex drive (libido)
* Infections
* Flushing (redness of the skin, especially the face)
* Gas
* Weight loss (see Effexor and Weight Loss)
* Weight gain (see Effexor and Weight Gain)
* Abnormal dreams
* High cholesterol
* Agitation
* Confusion
* Unusual thoughts
* Increased urination
* Taste changes.

So, it begins. I already deal with many of these. I know many more are on their way. But they don't last too long, and I know I'll be much happier. And so will the rest of my family.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On my way...

I have battled depression for so many years, I don't even remember for how long. This summer, I went off my meds. I really thought I could do it this time! Well, by September I was a mushroom growing out of the couch, both in usefulness and shape. A poisonous mushroom nobody wanted to touch or even be near. My house is atrociously dirty, as I find many other, lazier, things to do than clean. Why my husband hasn't left me yet, I don't know. The piles of laundry are too scary to touch, and the dust bunnies are multiplying everywhere, just as rabbits do.
I just finished one week of going back on an antidepressant. I take the generic brand Venlafaxine. I'm starting a gradual dose of 37.5mg the first week, 75mg the second week, then my regular dose of 150mg starting the third week. They truly are the happy pills that keep me from becoming rooted to my couch or bed, and I think I am finally resigned to the fact that I may need these for the rest of my life. When we have insurance, it costs $30/month. When we don't, it's $175. Since my husband works seasonally and we are quite often without insurance for months at a time, it can be a real financial hardship to keep mama supplied with the magic pills. But, I realize now that I need them to function at a very basic level.
I want to share my struggle with others who are going through the same thing. To let you know that there is someone out there just like you, and maybe we can start our own little on-line support group. Thanks for reading my first post!