Monday, October 27, 2008

Bad Trip*

(* Or, How I Kinda Halfway OD'd on the Wrong Meds)

Last week I was sick. It was a chemo week, so I expected to feel crummy, but this was worse than usual.

On Sunday, the first night of my five-day course, I woke up in the middle of the night barfing. All the next day and really for the rest of the week I felt either drunk or hungover: headachey, listless, loopy, uncoordinated, dizzy, sick to my stomach.

This is the 19th month now of the 24 months of chemo my doctors have scheduled for me so I'm used to some ups and downs. The side effects vary from month to month, but generally I can count on heavy fatigue, a general nauseous feeling and digestive troubles, lasting from a few days to a couple of weeks.

To combat the effects of the chemotherapy drug, Temodar, I take an anti-nausea medication, ondansetron, a couple of small, round, off-white pills, about half an hour before I down the pink and white chemo capsules. All that in addition to the oblong Keppra pills that I take twice a day to stave off seizures. You're supposed to take the Temodar right before going to bed, and my routine is to take the Keppra at noon and midnight, so on chemo weeks the last hour or so before bedtime is a flurry of ringing alarms and pill-popping.

No wonder that there might arise a little confusion, right? That's all I'm saying.

When the mail-order pharmacy sends me my monthly Temodar supply they always ask if I need more of the nausea meds. Over the months I'd managed to squirrel away a few pills here and there, and so for a couple of months in a row I declined the ondansetron refill and saved on the co-pay. In fact I rounded up several unfinished bottles of the nausea meds and put them together on the little desktop where I keep all my drugs so that when it was time I could just grab a container and go.

That was the mistake, I guess.

On Thursday, the last night of my chemo round, I reached for the nausea meds and happened to glance at the label. Wait. This wasn't ondansetron but Lorazepam, a muscle relaxant and anti-anxiety drug -- basically Valium -- that my doctor prescribed, before our big road trip, to take if I had a seizure and couldn't get to a hospital.

Damn! No wonder! Not only was I getting all the weird spacey "benefits" of Valium -- at twice the recommended dosage, since I normally take two nausea pills -- but I wasn't getting any of the anti-nausea medication.

In the above picture, the Lorazepam is the small white pill on the left; the ondansetron is the very similar (right?) off-white pill in the middle. The Keppra's on the right.

Michelle noticed that the prescription label says the original Lorazepam pill count was 15, but there are only six pills left in the bottle, so I must have been taking those suckers all week. What an idiot.

Michelle did me a favor and hid the rest of the Valium. Somebody lock up the Drano.


mich said...

Jeez, Mark! I guess you don't need Initiative 1000 after all.

I guess on the positive side, at least we know you weren't reacting horribly to the chemo.

Michelle, the way our jobs are going lately, maybe you and I could just divvy up that valium-type stuff.

kateco said...

holy crap

Rita said...

My heart!

Did anybody tell anybody that might know anything?

Ronelle said...

Aunt Rita,

That's what I was going to say!!!

Mark - I hope you are feeling better.

freda said...

so sorry, hope you are completely recovered.

Janice said...

so your crabby "unprecidented" post might have had a biological root?

freda said...

I just read in "Michelle's reads" about the Register laying off 110 people, that is so sad.