I wasn't able to post on the blog about this, but to those of you who saw my quick update on Facebook about Serotonin Toxicity/Syndrome and prayed for me, thank you. Last week is like a crazy blur that I never want to experience again.
Early in the week last week I asked my older son to get my next dose of pain medication (for Fibromyalgia) out of my medicine drawer. [He knows the names and doses of these meds as he's grown up hearing them. He will often bring them to me.] A few days later I started feeling very weird. I was in a LOT of pain, but much worse than that was the awful panicky feeling I felt. At the time I was dealing with a lot of behind-the-scenes drama and thought my weird feeling was due to all of the anxiety surrounding that. It was basically like the feeling of an anxiety attack--except it wouldn't end.
The next day the pain was worse, and the out-of-control feelings were multiplied tenfold. It felt like I needed to crawl out of my own skin. I couldn't sit still. I wanted to clean just for the sensation of some sort of repetitive scrubbing movement (which if you know me, tells you something is very WRONG!!! LOL!). I took Eric to work on Thursday morning and could barely focus to drive. I was drumming the steering wheel constantly, and wiggling my legs back and forth. I kept having to slow the car down because I kept speeding 15...20 miles over the speed limit (and I'm not much of a speeder). The feeling of FAST and JERKY was what I "needed" to feel a little bit more like I belonged in my own skin. I was having these hot flashes, sweating, tightness in my chest, the feeling that my heart was going to beat right out of its own cavity! My cheeks were flushed bright red and hot to the touch. I was completely gripey to my family. I was sick at my stomach and had no appetite. It felt like the world was crashing in on me. I knew something had to be wrong.
Only by the Lord's mercy did I figure out what had happened. I went to the medicine drawer and realized that in the place of one of my main pain meds, was my anxiety medicine. I couldn't remember exactly how long it had been since my son had gotten my medicine for me, but it had been at least one day (we think more like 2-3 now). That meant that I had taken at least 8 times the amount of anxiety medicine that I was prescribed (but more likely had taken 12-18 pills in 2-3 days, instead of 2 or 3). And I also hadn't taken my main pain pill for 1-3 days (which explains the severe pain).
I figured everything would be fine if I just started taking my meds again as prescribed, but called the doc just to make sure about accidentally taking so much anxiety med in such a short time. Well, it turns out that both my anxiety med and that pain med increase serotonin levels in the body. My body is usually low in serotonin, which is why these are usually good. I do remember the pharmacist asking if I was sure my doc wanted me to take these two meds at the same time, but didn't know why at the time. My doctor told me she was quite confident I was experiencing Serotonin Toxicity. She told me to try to rest but not to take EITHER medication for the next two days. In my case it wasn't the combo of taking those two meds together that caused the problem, but rather "overdosing" on the anxiety med. Still, I couldn't take anything to increase serotonin for a few days so that my body could get down to normal levels.
Ugh. I was an absolute mess by this time. Really not functioning well. I have never felt pain as great as I was feeling, and with no hope for relief for 2 days. And that "crawl out of my skin" feeling was even worse than the pain. It seemed like if one got better, the other got worse. The kids pulled a mattress down from upstairs so I could try different resting positions. Normally if I have bad pain I try to sleep through it, but there was *NO* sleeping. I was more awake than I ever normally feel. I can usually take a nap anytime of day, but with this thing I couldn't even sit still for 3 minutes, let alone nap. The only relief was about 3-4 hours each night after I took an ambien to help me sleep. [And an ambien should give you at least 8 hours of sleep.] ROUGH.
I spent a lot of time just trying to pray and focus on getting through it. The internet said most people are resolved within 24 hours but that wasn't my experience. The second day my husband called my doc for me and asked if she could give me anything to help me relax. [We had read that Valium is usually given to help people get through this.] My doc told me to take two benadryl to help me fall asleep (sleep through the day) and to get something from Whole Foods that is a natural calming aid. At this point I couldn't drive and my hubby can't drive due to blindness. We had to wait until my aunt could get off work for the calming stuff. But I took the two benadryl in hopes of falling asleep. After 3 hours I finally felt drowsy enough to sleep for one hour, but that was it. Longest. Two. Days. Ever!
Eventually things did start to feel a little better. Friday morning I was still a mess, but by 9pm Friday night I was less of a mess. My parents came down for the weekend to celebrate mine and my mom's birthdays. They got here at around 10pm and I helped scoop ice cream into bowls for all of us. I remember standing there and feeling so wobbly on my feet, wishing I could just be DONE with the scooping (longest I had stood in two days). And that was when I was feeling better!
By Saturday morning I felt so much more human. I got to get up and take my normal pain meds, which made a HUGE difference! Saturday afternoon I was well enough to go shopping with my mom for a few hours. Seriously weird to go from feeling so bad to so much better in such a short amount of time, but I thank the Lord for it!!
This has been a really yucky, but also really eye-opening experience. I hate being in so much need of the meds I take, but I've never been more thankful for them. I've never thought more about all that Job must have felt as he suffered through what the Lord allowed him to suffer through--and what an amazing servant he was never to give up. This was just two tiny days of suffering in my life, and I could definitely see how people in horrible circumstances could give up. What an example Job is to us all. As humbling as it is to say, it was so much easier to send praises up to my Lord this morning at church (feeling good) than it was two days ago in the midst of such physical trial. I need to toughen up for my Lord, and really challenge myself to be more able to suffer AND praise Him at the same time.
P.S. If I was exceptionally snippy towards you last week, I ask humbly for your forgiveness. I was fairly out of my mind (but didn't realize it at the time).