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Friday, August 29, 2014

Cold Turkey - Withdrawal Symptoms - Ritalin, Namenda, and Aricept

This "high" is when snorted, overused, and abused, but look at the temporal lobes all alight.
I stopped taking my medications for a period of 14 days. It was my intention to cleanse myself of all of my medications for two reasons. First was too avoid addiction and long term side effects. Though it probably wont help it makes me feel better about taking such powerful and addictive medications. The other reason 
was that I periodically check and see how my progression is coming along, and it seemed like time to do it again. I have been doing this kind of self-evaluation roughly once a year since my diagnosis with FTD. If you haven’t already, please read the medical disclaimer.
I am currently taking Ritalin, 20 milligrams a day, donazapel 20 milligrams a day, namenda 20 milligrams a day, and losartan 5 milligrams a day. Though it is recommended that these doses be split up morning and evening I have always taken the full dose of all of them in the morning ...or mid-day when I forget or sleep late. I also started taking a glyburide/metformin combination (generic for Glucovance) again, and have increased the dose of that to 2000 milligrams a day. That one I do take twice daily, and it still has some side effects.

 In addition to the prescription medications, I also occasionally take some supplements. I am not taking as many supplements as previously because I cannot afford them. I have been fairly consistent taking a Ginko Biloba extract, but other than a very occasional vitamin D3 or Niacin not much else. I have not taken the Lions Mane Mushroom Extract all summer, but it is time to reorder. I have been taking that one consistently 3-4 months on, and 3-4 months off. It is very expensive, so I give it some time to work between courses of treatment. When it is on sale I also still drink pomegranate juice. Other than a generally healthy diet that avoids most processed foods and additives that is about all I am currently doing.

I stopped taking my pills on Sunday, and that included supplements too. The first 3 days were easy, but it is not recommended that anyone stop taking any medication cold turkey without consulting a physician. This can lead to both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, side effects, or worse. Of course I did indeed have some withdrawal symptoms and side effects. After all, nothing is really easy with frontotemporal degeneration and I am taking some pretty serious medications here.

Probably the worst of the medication I am taking that is known for having withdrawal symptoms is the Ritalin. The higher doses (up to 60 mg/day or greater) are reportedly far worse than the 20 milligrams I am taking for having withdrawal from addiction. Even at only 20 milligrams after the first few days I started to feel very tired during the day. I had some bouts of nausea, and couldn't sleep hardly at all at night. When I did manage to sleep I had some very vivid dreams. Not bad, just more realistic and detailed than normal, or I remembered them better. Poor Cindy might say I was irritable, but she is a very kind and loving person. I was irascible, and very short tempered. Sometimes I could barely stand to be in the same room with myself. It was in the middle of the night. though, that things were the most difficult. I found myself tossing and turning, unable to lie still, and a couple times I even had the shakes!

After a week I did not notice any more side effects or withdrawal symptoms. They just dwindled and finally went away. That does not mean that I was feeling all fine and dandy. After the withdrawal symptoms were gone I was able to get an idea of what I would like be like without any medication. It was not good. 

The places where I noticed the biggest degradation or progression was with motivation, and my ability to think of words. I did not accomplish much of anything during the time I was not taking my medications except lay around on the couch and watch TV. I couldn't get myself to do anything but think of all the things I wanted to do. I did not want to see or talk to anyone either. My short-term and working memory went out the window. I had to make notes or I would not remember much of what happened over that 2 week period.

When I spoke, I had to pause every few sentences to think of a word. I am talking about a long pause that completely stops conversation, and frequently I never did think of the word I was looking for and got very frustrated because I forgot what I was going to say. I could not remember names of places or actors, movies, or TV shows. Communication was very difficult. I had a very halting speech pattern. This is a huge change because when I am taking my medications I speak well even when I don't talk very good.

There are a few other areas where I noted some changes. The other night when I tried to think of a simple math problem, I was trying to figure out how old I was back in 2010, instead of a mental math problem I got a mental image like I was looking up an empty metal spiral staircase. That was kind of weird! Apparently that is all that's left in that part of my brain that used to be able to do mental arithmetic. The metal staircase looked rusty, like my brain. I could still  subtract backwards from the current year, but I was totally blank when I tried to figure my age forward from my date of birth. My ability to do mental arithmetic is steadily degrading, but advanced statistics, and percentages are still easy for me.
So that is what I was doing the last couple of weeks, as for the rest of the Summer...
 It has been about 4 months since the last time I wrote anything to post here. There is nothing more wrong than usual. I am doing as well as can be expected. Cindy and Gracie have been keeping me busy, but that is for another post.

As always - comments are welcome. I know it is a nuisance to have to register to leave a comment or question, but I was being deluged with spam comments. Maybe I will try opening it up again soon.

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Some days are better than others, but I am still doing percentages as needed!!!!!!