Friday, December 28, 2007

Medication overload!

I thought it would be appropriate to make an entry about a little mishap that I had last night. I always hear stories of people who have forgotten to take their medication. I have also heard from people who try to play catch-up if they have forgotten to take their medication for several days up to a week! All of these things pointing to a possible disastrous outcome.

Last night, my head was killing me. I often get headaches and some of them are quite severe. I had a cousin visiting and did not want to leave the conversation, so I waited for him to go and then headed into the bathroom straight for the medicine cabinet. Typically I will down 800 milligrams of ibuprofen and that will sometimes keep my headache under control until I sleep it off.

I stuck the container back into the medicine cabinet, threw the pill into my mouth, and downed a glass of water. After exiting the bathroom and making my way back to the sewing machine, where I had some projects waiting for me, I realized that I had taken my epilepsy medication instead of ibuprofen! It just made me sick to think of what I had just done. My husband is always harping on me to get a pill box, but I have gone through pill boxes and just never liked them or was too stubborn to resort to them, thinking it would just make it seem like I was "sick" to have to take a daily medication... let alone display it to everyone! And in this situation a pill box would not have really helped if I kept the main medicine bottle in the cabinet anyway.

There is really not a good way to throw up Lamictal. These tablets dissolve so quickly when they touch any type of moisture. Dropping a tablet in the sink at times has caused them to dissolve before I get a chance to pick it up to save the expensive little pill. So I knew trying to get it back out was not really going to be an option.

I have had too much medication in my body a couple of times before and I do remember the symptoms. The first time I had this happen, I was in the process of increasing my medication, which is supposed to be done very gradually. My neurologist wanted me to increase my medication an additional 100 mg. I was told to take the additional 100 mg and then keep that new dose going from then on. Unfortunately, my body weight was not really taken into consideration with this increased amount happening all at once. About a half hour after taking the additional 100 mg I could barely feel my arms and legs. They were numb and tingling. My arms started to tremor and I felt like passing out. I left work, went home, slept it off and was told to make a gradual increase over the next several days.

When I first went on Lamictal, I was weaning myself off of Neurontin at the same time. Weaning off of a drug has to be gradual also. My Lamictal was increasing about 25 mg a week and my Neurotin was decreasing about 100 mg a week. Every Friday I would have seizures, which were from withdrawal of Neurontin. I was on such a large dose of Neurotin that when I weaned off of it it took months. My Neurotin dose was 3900 mg.

About two years ago when I was having severe migraines I was referred for an MRI. The MRI revealed a pituitary tumor. I assumed that this was the cause of my headaches, but that was not the case. After testing blood levels for my epilepsy medication, I found that I had twice the blood level than what I normally have in my system to be at a therapeutic level. This was causing the headaches. I had recently gone off of a birth control pill. Apparently with some medications, getting off of some of them allows you to decrease your epilepsy medication because the other medication (in this case, birth control pills) can make the anticonvulsant medication less affective, so you need to take a higher dose to compensate. When I went off of the pill I did not lower my anticonvulsant medication. Once the blood level came back too high, we realized that I was at a toxic level for me and my medication was gradually decreased to be almost half of what it was prior to the removal of the birth control medication.

So you can see my dilemma last night when I accidentally downed extra medication instead of ibuprofen! A quick call to a nurse and a transfer to the poison control people, along with downing a piece of peanut butter toast and heading to bed took care of any unforeseen issues for now! Read more!