Sunday, May 16, 2010

Side Effects

The thing about a migraine-type experience is that it's like being only half alive. You find yourself walking through this tomb world, everything gets far away and kind of dull and dead.
- Perkus Tooth in Jonathan Letham's Chronic City

So, I've been taking the two medications as a prophylactic for my migraines since early March now. One is an antidepressant and one is a beta blocker. For the most part they're working. While I'm not completely without migraines, they've reduced an awful lot. And for when I do get them, there's a triptan I can take that usually relieves one.

But wow, there's side effects, too...

  • Every time I wake up I'm extremely confused and disoriented. Especially if I go to sleep when it's dark and wake up when it's light. Then I have no idea where the light came from or who's shining it through the curtains. The doctor assures me it's normal, everyone wakes up confused in the morning, but if I compare the roughly 14,800+ times I've waken up before I was on the medications with the 70 times I've woken up after taking it, I know the difference.
  • Hallucinations, especially when I'm tired. When I wake up from sleep, the view from the bed is almost always that I'm on the edge of a huge chasm, and the little foot board that sticks up from the bed is a railing to keep me from falling off. The dressing table, a couple of feet away, looks to be a mile away, across the chasm. Whoever's in the mirror on the dressing table when I wake up, I usually don't recognize them for a couple of minutes and I'd swear there's someone else in the room.
  • One hallucination I had was when Leena came in on a weekend morning I waved to her in the doorway, but my impression of it was that I was holding a picture postcard of her, with the doorway being the white border around it.
  • Songs get stuck in my head more often. It's harder to get them out once they're there, even when I'm concentrating on other things. I think early on, before I recognized this I may have blurted out some lyrics at work when someone asked me a question. It's probably a good thing I haven't been in a Soundgarden mood much to listen to Louder than Love.
  • I'm a lot more angry than I was before taking the medications. I've lost a bit of my former easy-going nature. I think I've snapped at coworkers, and I know I've written at least one email at work I regret (not the concepts, but I think I could've phrased things a bit gentler).
  • Impotence, I just have no interested in sex since starting the medications. On the other hand, before that I had the interest but was in too much pain to do anything about it, so maybe it's not a bad trade-off for the short term. But it still makes me wonder, "what the fuck's wrong with me?" (which of course, I can answer...)
Hopefully I won't be on these medications for too much longer. From what I've read the usual time is in the neighborhood of six months, give or take a little. Although the one night I forgot to take it (actually, I was super-sleepy and couldn't remember if I took it or not and didn't want to double the doses in case I had) I had a bad, bad headache the second day after that, the worst one since I started it, so maybe I'm not ready to quit them yet...

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