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Friday, June 11, 2010

Ritalin Revisited - Part 3

The continuing story of Ritalin - Part 3. Se also Part 1, and Part 2.

I have been taking Ritalin for a couple months. Actually I am taking the generic form which is methylphenidate, but why pick nits? I started out with a dosage of 10MG in the morning, and another 10MG in the evening. There are no drugs approved for treating FTD, but there are some to address some of the symptoms. Since I have profound attention issues, Ritalin is a logical choice since it is used to treat ADHD.

I spoke with my neurologist, and said that I thought I might be seeing a slight improvement taking Ritalin, and he suggested I try increasing the dosage to 20 MG. We discussed several options, and I decided I needed to experiment a little and see if it was really doing any good, or if it was just my imagination.

I increased the dosage to 20MG as the doctor suggested, but I only took it in the morning. I figured I really didn't need it when I was asleep. I did not notice any side effects. I didn't notice much of a difference at all. I tried it for several weeks.

The next step was to stop taking it, and see if I noticed any difference. So, on June 1st I stopped taking it.

I did not notice any difference at all! Nothing! I did not have any more issues with symptoms than I did when I was taking it, so I figured it wasn't doing anything to help increase my attention, or to help with my cognitive problems. What a waste! I couldn't add numbers with it or without it.

On June 8th I had another appointment to visit my neurologist, and get a refill on my prescription for Ritalin. I decided I was just going to tell the doctor that it was not helping, and not bother to refill it.

For some reason, the night before my appointment, I was looking at my to-do list. Almost nothing was checked off. Looking back, I was using the same list for several days because I was not getting anything done. I took stock. I noticed there were dishes piled high in the sink. I had not vacuumed in a week. Plants had not been watered. And... I had not written anything for this blog. Only a single post since May 27 which had actually been written before that. I had intended to write about empathy and apathy, the difficult ones. I had not even started on them.

The only difference was not taking  the Ritalin. Hmmmmm...

Here is what I think is happening. The Ritalin may be helping with the ADHD-like symptoms, and that may be why I get more done when I am taking it, but I don't think that is it. From what I have read in the book What If It's Not Alzheimer's? the part of the brain that makes you initiate an action is located in the frontal lobes, and is often affected by FTD.

For example, you are watching TV, and realize you need to visit the bathroom. You wait for a break in the show, and get up and go. It is the part of the brain that activated the process of getting up and actually doing something about what you were thinking about that is initiating the action. That is the part of the brain I am talking about, and I think the Ritalin may be helping. Maybe not the best example, but it is what I thought of first.

With my bvFTD it is easy to just sit and think about doing something, and never actually getting around to doing it. The action is not initiated. The to-do list goes unchecked. I just think about writing something for this blog, but don't actually get it started. I have a severe case of procrastination! According to what I have read, in the advanced stages of FTD this can get very severe, and no actions are initiated at all. Not a pleasant thought, but a reality. I guess it is a fatal case of procrastination.

Of course I told the whole Ritalin story to my neurologist, and he did not seem to think it was at all unusual, and didn't think it was just my imagination. He suggested I start taking it again at the 20MG dose in the morning since that seemed to be working. I agreed, but what do I know?

Well, I know this:  I started taking it again on June 9th. I am writing again. Dishes are done. I vacuumed a little. It even rained on the flowers. I am getting some things checked off my to-do list.

I think I am going to keep initiating the action of taking the Ritalin in the morning for a while longer.

Comments are welcome.


  1. Glad to see you're initiating again. Appreciated the phone call that you initiated as well! Cookies and pizza await.

  2. I like this plan. It's a good plan. Stick to this plan.... Maybe weed the garden too lol. Also, it was great seeing you this weekend. Thanks for the hospitality

  3. Thanks for the comments Matilda and Ian.

    After a busy weekend I kinda vegged out for a couple days of recovery time. I did pull a couple weeds here and there.

    Howzabout a chocolate chip pizza? YUM!

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