drug Tale – I’m not Normal, so What?

“I’m not normal.” I actually used this line when trying to dissuade a man who was very actively pursuing me while I was 9 months pregnant with my ex’s baby. It didn’t work. He responded, “That’s ok, because I’m not normal either.” I ended up marrying him a year and a half later. Alas, another Tale for another time.

For a variety of reasons, unless I was being treated for a bacterial infection, I have alway had an aversion to prescription medication. Pain medication in particular. I don’t even really know why. Did I see too many of my friends afflicted by addictions over the years?  Even during the birth of my children despite the enormously long labors, I said, “Oh no, not I.” I can do this, and I did. Of course not until my 10+ pounder, but hey, give me some credit, I lasted 3 days and 9 centimeters. But those last 30-4o minutes sure were sweet.

However in my late 20’s I began to suffer from chronic migraines. Stress? Lack of sleep? Who knows? I just know I suffered. Gravely. I did the treat the cause, not the pain with chiropractic care and it helped quite a bit, but did not cure me. I tried Acetaminophen but it would not touch the pain. Ibuprofen did usually do the trick but the doses were so high I knew it would eventually damage my stomach.

So I went to see my regular Dr. and she prescribed a whole bunch of  “pain medications”  – 3 different classes. I picked them all from the pharmacy read them all over then dumped them into the trash. What if I get “addicted” to caffeine I thought? I remembered when I first started my current job and since we get free soft drinks I drank quite a a few Cokes that first week.  When I stopped, I had such a migraine when I went to pick up my kids after work I collapsed on the sitters floor for hours incapacitated. The others had such side effects I was frightened, the “Caution while Operating Machinery” or “May cause Marked Drowsiness” and agazzillion others in the fine print. They were also cautioned to be “habit-forming.”

For almost 12 years I did the best I could with the Advil and Chiro. However when I hit 40 I decided I want to try something new. First I saw a specialist about the migraines.  She told me about “preventative” medication. Topomax. Not a pain medication. I gave it a try. I read the labels but still decided to take the plunge. Let’s live a little dangerously I thought. These things have helped me quite a bit, but I am not quite thrilled with the side effects. Mainly the confusion which does eventually level off, but has not allowed me to reach the ideal dosage yet.

Confusion is a funny thing. Wandering around in the morning trying to get ready for work each day. Wondering where I left this or that. Thinking about what I was just thinking about. La-la-land. Sometimes it’s nice. I’ve also read it cures OCD. I actually wasn’t trying to fix that. Seeing that my room is mess and not giving a shit. At all. How about reading your boss’s e-mails thinking they are your own e-mails?  Not realizing it until later that night when the fog clears and it suddenly dawns on you. Wait a minute, my name is not so-and-so? Ok, ok, so like I said it does level off and ease away. The smart doctor also told me that adding Folic Acid helps to override these side effects and indeed it does. All in all I feel this is a miracle drug for me as I am not in such chronic pain anymore. 

However, my other afflictions. These have plagued me since childhood.

Let’s talk about anxiety and motion sickness.

Have you ever puked on a tire swing? I have! How about cry when you were coerced by some jackass onto the Cat in the Hat ride at Universal Studios? What about go up the elevator in Prudential building on a school field trip, then refuse to go back down? Or insist your school bus stop and let you off  because you were for certain you or someone else on the bus was going to be sick.

Yep, that was me. Is me. Has always been me.

The motion sickness thing was much easier to deal with. Avoid other people’s cars,  boats, trains, planes,  amusement rides, oh and let’s not forget tire swings. The anxiety, well, that has been quite the bag of tricks as I truly planned my life around it. Not only did it exclude  me doing most of the aforementioned, but also included  episodes when driving on the highway, riding on escalators, being within crowds of people.

Now I am no dummy so I understand that Behavioral Therapy is the best treatment. Uh-huh I get the whole being forced to face your fears. Ya I did that. Like watching the vomit videos a hundred times to decondition you. Well my kids vomit got me over that one right quick. These days I am more likely to ask if they want a bucket, then run. So, I know it CAN be effective.

However, this highway thing. I’ve tried it. For years. I mean seriously sometimes I have places to go and though I really did take 3 hours one day to travel between office buildings on the back roads I have had to face that freeway a few times. It usually involves quite a bit of crying, praying, and swearing. Honestly, I don’t usually swear much, but as soon as I hit that on ramp,  those are the only words I know. There are also just a couple of highways which are drivable at all for me. The rest are completely off  limits.

One time I accidentally ended up on a highway from my Restricted List. I pulled up and cried to the Toll-booth guy, pleading my case. I told him I did not want to be on this road and what should I do? He said, “Listen lady, you have two choices, bang a U-turn or get off at the next exit.”  Wow, well that was not helpful AT ALL!   So I continued to drive, while crying to my son, who also started crying with me. It was a beautiful thing.

So at 40 I also decided it was high time I see Dr. Feel Good about my anxiety. She actually listened to my concerns about not wanting to become a  zombie, but I wanted to know, hey yo, tell me do I need something? I also wanted to rule out being manic since someone actually asked me that once. Just for the record, no I am NOT manic.

Anyway, I even went to the, gasp, Therapist a few times too, but all I did was tell him about how everybody, everywhere annoys me  all of the time. He would just stare at me for a long time then point to different parts of a brain diagram on this chart telling me why I was feeling this way, which I found even more annoying. Not to mention BORING.  The good thing is, I figured it out. For me.  If I need to fly I can take a sedative. It’s all good. I use the patch now when I travel by bus, by car, by T, by boat, or tire-swing. No sickness, no worries.

No, I do not take all of these cool drugs every day. Perhaps if I did I would be more chill, but I would not be me. Some days I am more frenzied than others. Yes, I swear and cry on the highway. I also shriek at high volume on the escalator at the mall. Ok fine, I’m not Normal!

So what?

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