Four years ago I was diagnosed with severe, chronic depression. My daily challenges bounced from crying jags and panic attacks to uncharacteristic irritability and temper flashes, from insomnia to complete exhaustion and always, always memory blanks that included getting in the car, driving and not being able to recognize where I was or where I was going (thank you, Garmin, for helping with that!).
My menstrual cycle was showing no changes but I was turning 50 so my first thought was that I might be entering menopause. Various tests seemed to indicate that was not the case. After informing every practitioner that I had a very low tolerance for most medications, I began treatment for depression and thus began the rounds of almost every medication prescribed for depression. I also went into therapy, trying to "talk" my way out.
At one point, my cholesterol became elevated and I was prescribed Vytorin. After taking both Vytorin and the anti-depressants for a month I found out that they are contraindicated - in a very big way. I'm sure you can imagine how terrified I was at hearing that.
Today, I am definitely in menopause and instead of being "cured" or even better, I can add extreme GERD to the list. Not only do I still have all my symptoms, adding hot flashes, I can expect to be on PPI's for the rest of my life. I am also on disability and pretty much unemployable - a very hard thing to accept after having had a successful career with so much of my identity tied up in my professional persona.
I've learned some lessons I'd like to share. Hopefully I am being redundant and you already know and practice these:
- You read everywhere that you should tell your doctor what medications and supplements you are taking. DO IT! Write it down, keep it in your wallet and update it as appropriate so you don't forget anything and know your dosages. What you don't tell them could make all the difference. Remember that YOU will live with the results no matter whose "fault" it is.
- Make friends with your pharmacist. What worked best for me was finding out when their least busy time was and stopping by then to talk.
- Talk to your doctor AND pharmacist about ALL the prescriptions you are taking, including over-the-counter supplements, and chances for interactions.
- If you can't read the insert for side affects and there's no time to ask your practitioner, ask your pharmacist.
- As much as possible, take charge of your health care. Listen, get second opinions, talk to your family and make decisions. It's your health and you will have to live with it. Don't just "go with the flow" on this one!
Believe it or not, it's taken me HOURS to write this. Ah, well. I wish you good health, much love and long life.
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