"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Blindly on the Tightrope
lithium carbonate Function: noun
1 : a crystalline salt Li2CO3 used in the glass and ceramic industries and in medicine in the treatment of manic-depressive psychosis
2 : a potential killer
Well, I overdosed.
Not on purpose, mind you, but the various meds they have me on decided to argue, and almost took me out in the process. Boy, that would have been a wonderful Valentines present for my wife, huh? Love ya honey, think I'll just get sick and die now.
The doc put me on lithium about two months ago, and it works better than anything he has ever tried to stabilize my moods. I was rocking back and forth (you can check my blog entries during that period to see it) and the lithium held the boat steady.
Problem is, the effective level for lithium is right about here, and the lethal level is here plus just a little bit. It's a tightrope walk on the best of days, and a critical and sometimes fatal mistake on a misstep.
I guess this week was a misstep.
Since I went on lithium, I started having some mild side effects, like hand tremors and drowsiness and stuff. These are fairly common, so did not concern me much. But two weeks ago, a side effect I had not noticed started this whole chain of events.
Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was a type II diabetic. My regular doc and I had been throwing every pill in the book at it with no real success. When I started treatment for bipolar disorder, lo and behold the blood sugar levels dropped to normal ranges almost immediately, and stayed there. With no medication.
No pun intended.
Anyways, two weeks ago, I overheard that lithium could have repercussions on heart health. I figured I better check that out, so I did some research on the web. Well, at therapeutic levels it can cause problems, but they take a long time to develop and are easy to spot, plus they go away when the lithium is stopped.
But, I started finding another problem. It seems that lithium can cause diabetes. Hmmm, wonder if I should check my sugar levels? Even though I had been checked right before starting lithium and was fine, I took out my test kit.
Regular level should be 120. I was at 270.
And during the next day, it went way over 300.
This was not good, and I called my doc. Long story short, he put me on Advantia.
Now, with that, I was now taking seven prescription meds for one problem or another. That's asking for it.
During this week, I began trembling more and more. The drowsiness got worse and worse. Wednesday night I pretty much passed out for over an hour on the couch and only woke up when I smelled dinner burning since I had not heard the alarm.
I staggered around for thirty minutes, unable to get my footing or balance well. My head was splitting. I went to bed hours earlier than I usually do, too tired to go any further.
The next day at work, the same thing began happening to me at about lunch time. I mentioned it to a coworker, who made the obvious suggestion to call my doc. Honestly, that hadn't occurred to me, as used as I am to barreling through problems. So I called. I do not want to think where I would be today if I had not started that process.
The secretary said he would call back that evening.
Unfortunately, he was unable to.
The next morning on the way to work, I called and left my work number so he could call me there. But about thirty minutes after I arrived, I went rapidly downhill. Soon, my legs were shaking and I was having trouble walking. My head was aching and I had an uncontrollable thirst. I felt like I could pass out at any moment.
I called the office back. "Listen, I'm going somewhere right now. Is it the emergency room or your office?" I told the nurse. She suggested the office, they would try to work me in. I said I would be there in 30 minutes. I called my wife who left work to meet me there.
I was worried about driving myself. I really was not doing well at all.
When I said I was leaving, Gary said that I always did stupid things, like trying to drive myself to the hospital. He did not, however, offer any help.
So I left.
The drive was pretty uneventful, except for one portion where I went on this really high and narrow bridge overpass. But I made it. Barrel through, like always.
So, I got to the doc's office.
Fortunately, we caught it before I needed to be in hospital. He told me to stay off of it all weekend, we'll start again on Monday morning.
I think the Advantia somehow made the lithium dosage concentrate in me. If I had kept going, I would have died.
Well, I'm glad I am still here. Last night, even still suffering from the effects of the poisoning, I took my wife to a jewelry store and let her pick out something for Valentine's day. She said I was the best husband ever for doing that.
I don't know about that, but it was sure better than the alternative!
(Note: It's Saturday and I feel a lot better. The lithium is getting out of my system. The next couple of weeks are going to be interesting, to say the least.)
[Medicine is] a collection of uncertain prescriptions the results of which, taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)