Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What would you do?

Earlier today I was reading the webpage of another bipolar woman. This webpage has won some acclaim and while I don't read it routinely I do check in from time to time.

The author has reached a point of having tried everything and has had a number of rounds of ECT. She is bordering on stable on a list-ditch drug attempt. I have always assumed that like me she has been totally unable to tolerate the various meds in the past.

When I say unable to tolerate I mean that I have had rashes, toxicity, no response, hypertension, severe edema, extrapyramidal syndrome, etc. I've never really just refused a med because of not liking a side effect. If something was unpleasant we've always tried to push until we were sure I couldn't tolerate it and that nothing else was going to reduce the bad effect.

I've gained 80some pounds. Size 6 to 18, all because of meds. (Presumably; I have a very small build and my family are all small people, so I assume I would have stayed small). But I never would think of refusing any of my meds over this or any side effect that isn't potentially seriously harmful. If a med works I take it.

I don't love the side effects. I miss my thyroid gland. Diabetes insipidus turns out to not be a lot of fun. I wish I felt small and pretty again. But small and pretty doesn't matter one bit in comparision to not feeling suicidal, to having my mania controlled.

I'm not referring to what happens if the first thing offered fails. I'm talking about what happens if you have been on some drug, lithium for example since it's one I fight with a lot, and you know it works but you don't like the weight gain. You also know nothing else has worked like that for you. Do you continue to refuse to take lithium?

I just can't imagine that. Whether it is because I've convinced myself that some medicine magically works or because I just can't imagine choosing to feel like I do when my meds aren't right, I am horrified at the thought of refusing a med that works for a non-life-threatening reason and then facing life.

What do you think?


bipolarlawyercook said...

I don't know what would be my breaking point, but "mere" weight gain isn't it. I would have to have run through the full gamut before trying ECT, knock wood.

Just Me said...

I reached the point last year of asking about ECT and it may lie ahead. I know this. But I also agreed to try some riskier things with meds first (like re-trying lithium and lamictal and ultimately taking Seroquel) and thankfully these worked.

Kids Special Needs said...

Well, I guess I'd choose the lesser of two evils, so to speak. A "mere" weight gain would be a tolerable side affect. 200 pound weight gain would put me over the edge. I'd be fat and suicidal, so, not really helpful in the long run to be on meds that make me gain that much weight..........

aka Cate said...

Great post. It's so easy to become absorbed in my own little world that it was refreshing to hear someone else put 'small and pretty' in the right context. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must be to eliminate a drug due to intolerance rather than just preference. I admire the strength it must take to have walked your path. Nice to 'meet' you.

Just Me said...

Thanks for the responses here. It's been interesting see what others think. I know when I was newly diagnosed and hadn't yet developed so many med issues I would be shocked at some of what I've chosen, like taking meds to manage side effects, or living with side effects that are potentially harmful.