Thursday, April 5, 2018

the Exit of the Strattera and Return to Adderall ER

In the century of life since I last wrote in 2016.  A ton has changed in my life.  Marriage is finished, but I guess that is not a surprise. The divorce judge told me I couldn't write my blog if I mentioned him.  So that happened and I obeyed.

My education attempts were squashed by fatigue that didn't resolve itself. I am now 37 years old, a single mom with 3 kids who also has her Mom living in her house.

The kids are well adapted and eat 3 meals a day, wash behind their ears and change their underwear. I think. I have 3 boys, I am doubtful they change the underwear since I never wash many.  The middle one goes commando, I tried taking him shopping for pants unannounced, that did not work out well.  One of us was embarrassed and left the store...

The babysitter lost her mind hit my oldest son. I kicked her out. And managed to keep things running with a little help from my ex and weekly assistance from my Mom. The loss of the babysitter added to the fatigue I was experiencing.

In early 2017 I left my job at Facebook in a desperate attempt to vanquish the fatigue demon. I was told by 2 physicians and a psychologist my fatigue was due to depression. They were wrong. Leaving the highly competitive and stressful call center environment didn't work for long to relieve the "depression".  No doubt, I needed to leave the company that employed us Facebook Sales Reps as sub-contractors.

I found a temporary job that had a lower wage but had a great boss, I liked her a lot and wish I hadn't been in such terrible health and been the employee she deserved. I missed a lot of work! So much work that my own business working on Facebook Digital Ads on the side wasn't enough to keep my savings intact. I spent my savings literally keeping the lights on and feeding the kids. I was missing so much work due to fatigue that I should have been fired. Any non-involved boss would have fired me for missing nearly every other Monday and 1/2 or more of another day each week. But again she was kind and a great human being.

By the middle of 2017, I had gained an extra 15-20lbs.
I can't be exactly certain because I developed a fear of the scale after I saw it hit 252lbs.  I just stopped taking my weight because it didn't matter how hard I exercised or what I ate, the number on the scale just went up. I didn't realize it but I also had developed a reluctance to have my photo taken. It was rather embarrassing to see myself that large. This is a photo of me in the spring of 2017 at my heaviest, about 250 pounds or 18 stones.  I've removed the innocent people from this photo. Yes, I knew I was big. I was tagged in this photo by my cousins. I didn't tell them but it made me cry. How did I turn into one of those before photos that we used to see on Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig when we were kids?

I doubled down on the efforts to control my weight.  I actually quit sugar of any kind.  No soft drinks, no maple syrup in your oatmeal, no added sugar hidden in the pasta sauce, no white bread or rice, actually almost no grains at all. No sugar substitutes of any kind were permitted. Water, seltzer water, and unsweet iced tea were all I drank. Grocery Shopping drove me insane! Try going shopping only to discover there is added sugar in peanut butter and ketchup. I went militaristic Vegan, sugar-free, oil-free, caffeine-free, no eating out, no cheat day, practically only raw fruits and veggies. I went outside and tried walking, but was still too tired to manage more than getting the mail or bringing in the groceries.  The walk from the temporary job office to the parking area was only about 1/4 mile round trip. But it wore me out. I rear ended people twice at stoplights after work.  I couldn't tell you how I went from a full stop with 10+ feet in front of me to rear-ending the car in front of me at low speeds.  Both people forgave me. Unfortunately, I didn't know it was a symptom of what was happening in my body.

I lost 15-20 pounds or about 1 stone in about 6 weeks. So life should have been going in the right direction. It was Halloween night 2017, it could have been April Fools Day and just as many people would believe what was happening was a heart attack.  I handed out the candy to the neighborhood kids. I was exhausted and was ordering the kids not to eat all the candy and go to bed when the most severe pain began in my chest. Within a minute I was nauseous, tried taking antacids that I couldn't swallow after chewing. I spit them out on the floor of the bathroom as I the pain brought me to my knees.  I called for my kids. I asked them to wake up my Mom. My Mom didn't know what was wrong and neither did I.  I was 36 years old.  No one thought heart attack. We went to the ER.

I was given immediate entry to the ER when I walked into registration. The intake rep knew something was seriously wrong. They did what your thinking, took my blood pressure, hooked me up to an EKG and gave me morphine, nitrogen and a few other things like Mylanta.  Took an x-ray and some blood. Told me I was experiencing Heart Burn and sent me home after taking 2 Percocets 7.5mg/325mg.  I spent the night in agony until nearly 6 am when I finally was able to sleep. I missed more work.

I followed up with the primary care physician as instructed, missing more work. I was told maybe it was a gallstone passing and that we should schedule an ultrasound of the gallbladder to verify I didn't need to have it out. It was November 9th, 8 whole days since I had been to the ER for chest pain.  The pain returned. Not as severe, but it was back.  The ultrasound wasn't scheduled until the 10th, and I didn't think waiting till morning was right. This time I threw up on the way to the ER. I wasn't sweaty like the first time. I thought since this is a gallstone I could be patient when it took 2 hours before I was given pain meds. The blood pressure was high but way lower than the 250/110 it was before. Despite the pain, I choose to walk the 1000ft from the ER to the Ultrasound Tech's room. Then I walked back, sat down on the gurney and picked up my book.

As the RN that had escorted me was hooking me back up to all the devices, a very flustered ER Physician burst into my room. "We've called an ambulance to transport you," is what he vomited out. I wasn't quite sure I heard him correctly. My mom was equally confused by this statement. The guy was probably about my age and white as a ghost as he explained that my lab results were back and I had an elevated enzyme that indicated I had suffered a heart attack. I am certain I didn't believe him, the pain was significantly less severe than what happened on Halloween night, so I asked why couldn't we just drive to the other hospital.

I took my first trip in an ambulance,
with the lights on, high on morphine and completely confused as to why they were certain I had a heart attack this time and not heartburn. Because who takes an ambulance for heartburn. I spent the night in the cardiac wing of St. Joesphs in downtown Phoenix. I eavesdropped on the nurse as she became frustrated that the Cardiologist declined to come in that night and said he would see me in the morning before noon since I was so young.  I can attest morphine makes it so you don't give a fuck that something as wrong as age discrimination is happening to you in a true medical emergency. The nurses weren't happy and that should have been enough for me to give a crap, but I went to sleep.

The next day the Cardiologist swaggers in as cock as a TV doctor. "Ah well you're young, it was probably nothing," he tells me.  Still high as a kite, I agree. Probably nothing and the food sucks so...

I was sent to the Cath Lab which is expensive speak for a room where critical heart blockages are broken up and arteries are spread open like a vagina with a speculum in it. I am told the Cardiologist and the techs were surprised to discover an 80% blockage of the Left Anterior Descending Artery which leads to death in 4 out of 5 people who have a blockage there.  It is the type of blockage that you don't want to wait until the next day to deal with, let alone a full 9 days from onset. It's named the 'Widow Maker' because of the high death rates even with modern interventions, it is the deadliest type of heart attack because it supplies blood to the heart itself. Prognosis is a lifetime supply of drugs to keep your blood thin, blood pressure low.  Cholesterol-lowering medications are added as the standard of care in America.  Add a ton of strange looks as you go to the cardiologist office and pick up your meds and you are suddenly ripe for a new reaping of anxiety issues.

I tried returning to work the next week on the advice of the cardiologist. I just couldn't focus.  Good old ADHD had gone nuclear on me. I stopped paying my bills, because what was the point. I stopped answering the phone. I stopped returning text messages or even spending hours per day on Facebook. I became a no call no show and lost my job with the good boss. I failed to complete work as a Facebook Digital Ads Manager. I lost several clients. I checked out of adulting, parenting, and showering. But I was oblivious to it all because it was the holidays and I was walking further than before without the same level of exhaustion. Life was good(ish). Like I never stopped taking morphine.

I kept walking, slow, but far. I checked in with the family physician, the cardiologist and even the psychologist and the nurse that controls the psych meds.  I had so many doctors appointments that I didn't notice my life was in shambles. I had become a hypochondriac as well. Well, I thought that I was being a hypochondriac because I was finally admitting to all the aches and pains that had become my body and visited the ER, Urgent Care Clinic, Doctor, and Obgyn.

Don't ignore pain! It's not all in your head.

My ex claimed I was just a soft pussy that couldn't handle pain while we were married because I would say my back hurts, I am bloated, my leg hurts, my head hurts, my boobs hurt, sex hurt. It wasn't in my head. The hypochondriac learned after months of follow up, ultrasounds, x-rays, ct scans, blood serum, physical exams and countless hours in the car to another appointment I was living with a very real disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom or POS for short in the second month of 2018.

This diagnosis was my ah-ha moment.  This was the root cause of the heart attack. On the surface POS is just a bunch of painful cysts on the ovaries of women, but underneath it lies a metabolic dysfunction caused by hormone imbalances, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, hair loss, adult acne and difficult to lose weight. This was how I arrived in the ER with a heart attack and no family history of heart disease.

So here we were. A heart attack survivor and unknown sufferer of a serious disorder. I read a few blogs, found a few well-known physicians and naturopaths online, read a book and found that I was on the right track with the crazy militaristic version of a vegan diet before the heart attack.  Lose the fat, build the muscle and lose the weight are the overall best practices for living with this broken body. Oh and stop the birth control, it is half the problem.

But then in the follow up with the Psychologist, I let it slip that my focus was horrible and that the Cardiologist said it had nothing to do with all the meds I had been given despite what I read on the internet from actual users of these drugs. The psychologist told me I shouldn't be on Strattera at all. Apparently, it causes an increase in blood pressure over long periods of time and is now associated with an increased risk of cardiac death.  So the rainbow of pills I am taking needed to be changed. He told me to go cold turkey on the Strattera and handed me a new script for an old friend Adderall ER.

What is weirder is that I called the cardiologist office to run this past them and they agreed that I should take Adderall ER, an amphetamine! WTF?! I stopped taking Adderall ER because I couldn't remember to take the damn thing in the first place and it was still disappearing. I still believe to this day my ex was up to something with that Adderall. On top of that, I had just disposed of some really old Adderall ER I found in my sock drawer. I hid it there to try and stop it from disappearing when I was married and forgot about it.  So obviously I was never addicted to it.

Which brings me to today. The first day I have had Adderall in years. Wow! Now some people get the jitters, I remember I had that the very first time I used Adderall. Many non-Adhders claim it makes them super productive and helps them get shit done. But I don't recall this from before and it didn't happen today. I went from having all the thoughts on all the subjects all at once and being interrupted by the next random thought to being able to have a single complete thought smoothly followed by the next thought in a linear fashion. It was weird. I don't recall that before, but my kids were little and I was at home alone with 2 kids under age 5, one with autism at the time. If this happens every time I take Adderall ER, I'll keep it. If this is a one-time deal, I am glad to have had the experience of a calm mind for an afternoon.

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