2: Side Effects

No, not the movie. (Which actually isn't bad and I do recommend it.) I have several items I wish to write about. However, I'll cut it down to just one this week. At the top of my list is side effects. Any of you reading this who have taken medications are familiar with side effects and how they effect your daily life. I'm currently dealing with Lamictal for my tonic-clonic events, Depakote for my more minor events, and Aptiom for other minor events involving vision. I haven't gone through them in a scientific manner to see which drugs are causing which side effects, I don't really feel comfortable eliminating one or another to see what happens. However, the dizzy spells, acid reflux, bleeding gums, and lethargy are all taking their toll on me and making life extremely difficult. I would almost say that the side effects are worse than the symptoms they are keeping off. But they aren't. In order to be a functioning member of society it's just something I have to put up with.

Luckily I'm no longer taking Tegretol, a medicine with which I would have coughing fits that I would start to expel blood whenever they started. Those were by far the most worrisome for those around me. Even after I got it diagnosed and found that it's not really a big deal, it was quite alarming for people to see me coughing out blood. It's also impossible to hide a side-effect such as that. When it comes to my bleeding gums, it really only shows when something scrapes them, like when I'm brushing my teeth or eating certain foods. The acid reflux is extremely painful, but I can grin and bear it, the dizzy spells can be hidden well enough as long as I'm sitting. But no matter what, when you're coughing up blood, it's really evident.

I'm also lucky enough to be unaffected by the suicidal thoughts some anti-convulsants can bring on. This isn't saying that I haven't gone through bouts of deep depression brought on by my circumstances under epilepsy. Because I have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts occasionally. There are others who are in a constant battle with them due to their medications, and I am thankful I'm not included in that group. Here's to them though, and the courage it must take for them to make it through every day.

Side effects make things difficult nowadays when trying to raise a family and hold on to a job, but they made things infinitely more difficult while trying to attend classes in college. Luckily in High School, when my seizures first started, my medication regimen wasn't quite as lengthy. So side effects were much less of a worry. The acid reflux forced me to sit through a painful class every now and then, but otherwise, not much was affected. The dizzy spells and coughing up blood which occurred in college kept me from classes quite often, and passing grades were difficult to come by. The dizzy spells are rarely enough to make me throw up, but even when they are just at normal levels, I'm unable to walk. That's enough to keep me from most activities.

It's hard to explain to people why I can't come somewhere or participate in an activity due to a side effect I'm currently experiencing. People who aren't on medications for a chronic condition that affects their entire life just have a hard time grasping it.

"I can't come because I'm feeling dizzy."

"I can't come because I'm in a lot of pain and just need to rest."

"I can't come because I am tired."

"I can't do that because I can't remember how."

These are all conditions that can seem normal to others, but have a simple solution for them. My acid reflux isn't cured the same way theirs is. My dizziness doesn't wear off after a short rest. My lethargy isn't solved when I drink some coffee or take a quick power nap. Making sure I have healthy gums doesn't stop them from bleeding. Memory loss due to a medication is one thing I've experienced and unfortunately had to live with for about 6 months before I could see my neurologist to get me off of that medication in particular. It limited me more than any other medication I have ever had. Halfway through performing an action I would totally forget what I was doing. Or forget how to do something altogether. This also included randomly forgetting people I knew, or information for a test. I always loved the movie Memento, a movie about a man who has lost his short-term memory. But I didn't realize how bad memory loss would actually be in my life until I experienced it myself.

If you have comments on how side-effects have affected your life, leave them here, or on our subreddit. I would love to hear from you. Until next time, stay happy!

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