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A farewell to Mello Yello

I think that no less than three times this year alone I have tried to kick my caffeine addiction. Before we go much farther I want to say that I don’t think that I was that addicted. I had two Mello Yellos a day. Every day. The internet tells me that amounts to just over 100mg of caffeine per day, which is more or less the same as a cup of coffee. Or much less. It really depends on the brand, type, brewing, or whatever else makes coffee coffee. I personally don’t care for the stuff and so don’t know much about it. However, each of those times that I tried before, I failed. The withdrawal was ridiculous and I kept thinking “Why am I purposefully doing this to myself?” and would crack open a soda.

Back when I saw my neurologist in mid-November he seemed to have forgotten that he had told me my two soda a day habit was OK and told me I should cut back to just one. I started with a baby step; instead of straight up cutting out one of my 12oz cans I got some .5L bottles and made one last for the full day. That worked out to roughly 17ozs instead of 24ozs. After just 3 days I decided heck with it and went to just one 12oz can. And I think I was OK. This all happened the week before Thanksgiving so I’m a little fuzzy on the details. OH WAIT. Maybe that’s because I felt ridiculously terrible that week. I don’t know if it was the caffeine (and sugar; can’t forget the sugar content) withdrawal or not but it was miserable.

I think I did start having a worse than usual after lunch crash. See, I had a pretty set routine. First soda: cracked around 9AM and usually gone by 11AM. Some days it lasted longer than others. Second soda: cracked around 1:30 and gone by about 3PM. Without that second soda and not really having good afternoon snacks prepared I was in crash city. Definitely not fun to try to write a bunch of complex SQL when all your brain can think of is CAFFEINE. SUGAR. @____@

At that same visit I switched prevention medication. You know how I’ve been going on about side effects? Well, one bizarre side effect for this one is that it changes the taste of carbonated drinks. I really used to enjoy the taste of my sodas. My overall diet isn’t the best but I do try to not buy myself cookies, candy bars, or other straight up “junk” food. I guess you could say sodas were my cheat food. But after being on that stuff for a few weeks? I don’t know how to describe the taste of sodas. It was almost like drinking metal flavored cough syrup. Why keep drinking something that tasted that bad?

So December 2nd came. On that day I had my last Mello Yello. On December 3rd I woke up, didn’t have anymore sodas at home to take to work and I said why not, let’s kick this entirely. And it was miserable. Everything was fine until almost the end of the work day when I really began to crash. That night was awful. I couldn’t move without wanting to rip my own head off. So I did the most sensible thing I could and slept for about… 14 hours or something. I woke up a couple of times so it wasn’t straight through. Honestly, it really wasn’t good, quality sleep so don’t envy me.

Saturday (the next day) was better. Sunday was better and so was the next day. I’ve now been caffeine free for just over a week. Of course, I’ve had headaches since– actually, I have had some absolute monsters of headaches this week– but I can’t say for certain whether or not they’re related to caffeine. My hope is that if these headaches do continue (and I really hope they don’t) and the doctor’s just keep giving me these useless lists of migraine triggers I can go “I don’t use caffeine, suckas!” Cause really, I don’t think I have migraines. Migraines don’t last for days, right? Migraines will usually respond to triptans or some sort of pain medication and mine don’t. So kicking caffeine is maybe one small step to helping myself figure out what is wrong. And now I’m drinking more water so even if it doesn’t help with headaches this is a good move for my overall health. Also? I’m at slightly higher risk for kidney stones because of the headache prevention medication so drinking more water is even better for me.

Of drugs and other things

Over the holiday weekend I realized that soon bloggers will start compiling lists of “What Happened This Year.” I started thinking about the year in general and boy has it been a rough one. I realize I am quite young to say this but it may have been one of the roughest years of my life. Also, gonna go ahead and say that I use writing for therapy. Sometimes just writing things out and hitting publish helps me to get some things out of my mind, which is a far better alternative to letting them rattle around in there on their own for days and days.

In January I started a 20 week Accutane treatment. I can’t recall if I ever mentioned it here; it was an extremely rough time. I thought almost everyone knew what that horrible poison is but apparently, some do not. It’s technically a drug called isotretinoin and is used as an aggressive acne treatment. This is what dermatologists put you on when all other methods have failed. Methods such as but not limited to hormonal birth control, various cleansers and creams, and months of antibiotic treatment. I was in such misery emotionally and physically (it was painful for areas of my skin to be touched by my clothes) and in danger of scarring my face that I signed up for the overwhelming list of possible side effects. If anything, the knowledge that certain side effects were simply possibilities, especially those that affect pregnancies (trust me, it’s terrible, they put pictures on every single 10 packet of pills; I had to take two pills a day so I saw the pictures a lot), scared the ever living daylights out of me even though I never experienced some of them. I have no doubt that I suffered more than a little depression as a result. It was a horrid, terrible experience that I hope to never put myself through again. At this time I do think it was worth it. I was becoming depressed anyway and my little self esteem was plummeting.

To say that I was excited for my treatment to end in June and my last dermatologist appointment in July is a huge understatement. My skin is miles better than it was and whatever does come up will be dealt with. It will take a lot to make me even think about considering another round of Accutane.

One of the many potential side effects of that vile stuff is headaches. While I was taking it I brushed off anything I had as being due to it, took some tylenol or whatever and that was it. I didn’t keep a close track of anything but I think in July they started to get worse. Still no problem, Excedrin Migraine and some sleep fixed everything.

Then. Then came August 26 and… something that left me in such pain and discomfort that I was barely able to sleep for two days and no pain relievers worked. That started a cascade of doctor’s visits, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, insurance hassles, and ~SIDE EFFECTS~ Pesky thing about drugs: they seem to break more things than they fix, sometimes. After determining that I have no tumors or some other cause of my headaches my neurologist decided to bump up the anti depressant I was put on in order to try to prevent the headaches. By the way, it bothered me to find out after I had my prescription filled that it was an anti depressant. Shouldn’t doctors be telling their patients what sorts of things they’re being given? Anyway. The increase? Big. Mistake. After experiencing crazy heart rates (120 while sitting!!) and bizarre vertigo they backed it down. After weeks of that, though, it didn’t seem to be doing any good. Solution? Switch to another drug! Start Topomax at 25mg and increase to 50mg after just a week. And by the way, side effects for this only include confusion, inability to concentrate, forgetting things, small stuff. Oh yes, while not an anti depressant it can increase depressive thoughts. Just a few days after I went to the higher dose my lips and eyes to twitching enough to drive a person insane. Back to 25mg it was.

That’s where I am now. Except I don’t think the lower dose is really doing enough to prevent the headaches. But what can I do? A higher dose will drive me crazy and I’m talking certifiably, not the “she’s different and that makes me uncomfortable so I’m going to call her crazy to make myself feel better” type crazy. I honestly feel like I have absolutely no way to tell what is or isn’t helping. I have a very sneaking suspicion that stress is playing a huge part in this giant cocktail of whatever it is that’s wrong with me. That Which Shall Not Be Named has caused more than its fair amount of stress this entire year. (I am most curious to know which sentence in this post wins “Understatement of the Year.”)

Life has been stressful. Add in the smorgasbord of drugs that I’ve been on this year it is absolutely no wonder that I feel like an emotional wreck right now. I really don’t understand it myself. There is not one single thing that I can pin down (I might be lying to myself right there but will leave it as is) but I am just super unhappy, especially here in the last few weeks or so. And you know what? I’m tired of living like this. I used to wonder why when researching different headache disorders so many different sites suggested support groups or counseling or therapy for pain management for the person with the disorder and the ones close to them. I get it now. When there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do life turns pretty bleak. You don’t want to always complain about feeling bad yet there are no times in which you feel better. Your friends and family want to help but when they know that they can’t even fetch you a tylenol to help it sucks. The doctors seem to be treating you like a science experiment, guessing how much of which drug to give you.

So. I am endeavoring to change what I can. I have no solid plans at the moment because there are a lot of things I don’t have answers for right now. And even if I did, That Which Shall Not Be Named is so called for a reason. What plans can be wisely and safely shared will be. Gosh, that makes it sounds like I’m planning a rebellion or something equally nefarious. I’M NOT. I SWEAR. I’m just altering my outlook and goals. (Does that sound better? Maybe?) More of which I will be saving for a later day. It is late and I let myself get distracting researching symptoms on Wikipedia. FYI, NOT a smart thing to do to yourself at 11:30PM. But for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure I don’t have fibromyalgia. Mostly sure.

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