Saturday, March 5, 2011

Troubled By Side Effects

I've been pretty excited over the past few months as I've begun to have some good days. I've written about it several times, the return of my appetite on days when I don't have much migraine stuff going on, the increase in weight as a result... But there is another side to all of this. I think in my zeal over the positive side effects I just wasn't paying close enough attention to the negative side effects. Over the past month I've become more aware of these negatives.

For one, my digestive system has been effected. I'm just not regular like I used to be. I've been a vegetarian for a year now, so I have a fairly high fiber diet between the veggies, and all the whole grains, bean, lentils and such. The only thing that is different is this new medication, which does list this as one of the side effects. I'm trying to counter it with a fiber supplement, but will check with Dr. Garza from Mayo in the next week or so when I call to update him on my progress.

I'm also having a lot of dry mouth issues but it isn't as bad since I changed up my medication schedule and added all kind of Biotene products. I'm not convinced it is as it should be for good oral health but I'll check with the dentist later this month.

The most troubling side effect is cognitive. The migraines and the fog they induce have been something I've been living with for several years now. I'm used to forgetting simple words in the middle of a sentence, or losing my train of thought, or having trouble processing anything remote complicated during the worst of the pain. But lately I've been doing things even I don't normally do. I missed a doctor's appointment. I never miss doctor appointments (in all fairness they did not place a reminder call, which they usually do). It was written on the calendar that I look at every day. I looked right at it and it never occurred to me that it meant something. I'll start preparing a meal that I've done a lot and suddenly I've added something strange or used the wrong pan. I'm also having all kinds of trouble with my grocery list. Normally I keep an ongoing list on the refrigerator and then I just grab it and do the shopping. Lately my mind is overwhelmed by looking at all the stuff and even though I can clearly see what is on my list, my mind is not understanding it. I've had to start rewriting the list in order of where it is within the store and then I have to carry a pen to cross off the stuff I have already gotten and fold the paper over so I don't see it at all. I'm also missing deadlines for blog carnivals. I missed one just yesterday. I have it written down and I look at regularly but my mind is just missing it.

I want the positive side effect so badly but am troubled by what is going on here. I'm going to work on a nice organized list of this stuff for my conversation with Dr Garza before I place the call. Clearly I can't count on my brain.
Have any of you experienced these kinds of side effects from preventative meds?


  1. Topamax, lithium were two I could not tolerate because of cognitive and other side effects. I can't take any drugs in the elavil class because I have myoclonus and they aggravate that. Hoping you find a dosage that works but doesn't have the brain fog, or you find another med that works better. :(

  2. Cruel! What can we do but step by step following up each issue and weighing up the benefits against the side effects. Its a hard trudge. Here's hoping you get to the top of this ridge and get a lovely view to remind you the track is worthwhile.
    That is the metaphor I use anyway!
    Good wishes!

  3. Oh yes!!!

    Right there with you!

    My meds definately cause gastrointestinal issues of all kinds...but I have always been kind of a puker & had trouble with constipation.

    While I don't take Amitriptyline, a friend of mine at work does for her migraines, and also has very dry mouth.

    As far as cognitive...I am terrible! I can never figure out if it's a side effect from meds or accompanying migraine/headache symptoms, but I have difficulty concentrating, comprehending & remembering. I am often mid-sentence & completely stop talking because I have no clue what I was just saying.

    Jesse has been saying recently that he notices it getting alot worse, but I am also taking opiates right that explains alot too!

  4. I used to take amitriptyline in the mid 90's, and I didn't take it very long. I hated waking up so groggy I just wanted to go back to bed. It is a shame to finally get a little relief, and then be waylaid by your medication. I've had brain fog for a while, and I don't think I can blame it on my meds. Have you been tested for autoimmune diseases?

    As far as grocery shopping goes, I've always made a list, according to the store layout. I first noticed my inability to remember simple things while I was working, and couldn't remember what was on the ticket to cook. I'd have to reread it several times to get all of the orders on, when I used to be able to take one glance, and do several orders at once.

    And thank goodness for spell check!

    As an after thought, I realized that I am more sensitive to smells, such as perfume, scented lotions, exhaust fumes. It never occurred to me that my illness caused it. I'm paying more attention to it, and wanted to thank you for posting about it.

    I suggest that you start leaving yourself notes. That's what I do, although it doesn't help if you can't remember where you put it, or what you wrote it on! ( I do this frequently!)

    I hope your good doc at Mayo can help. Take care, my friend.


  5. My heart is warmed and encouraged by these responses. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. Thank you!

  6. It gets better with time. I've been on it for quite a few months now. I was actually 3 weeks migraine free during this time. I'm now considering a more regular anti anxiety med or muscle relaxer because I just can't seem to relax the muscles in my head, which are very tight according to my massage therapist. Hang in there. This all takes time. I'm also on Verapamil, the blood pressure med. It took away my nausea. I can't take Topamax because of kidney stones. Some of those small negative side effects are worth it, if it works over time. I also have a more positive attitude. Oh and I do have the potty problems you mention. Sienna helps with that.