February 25, 2012

I was going to write about how discombobulated I was today, but instead I think I'm going to write about something else, something that been affecting me since all of that started this morning. Please note that I wrote "since all of that started" and not "what caused it all."

I take a medicine daily. It's called Atripla. All medicines come with a list of side effects and one that I see frequently on bottles is that it can cause dizziness. As a matter of fact, I see it so frequently that I had long since stopped paying attention. So, when I first began to take this medicine I didn't think much of that little yellow notice on that bottle. I lived in Elgin at the time and I was about to drive into town. It was a Saturday. I took the pill and waited the required hour to eat. It specified that you have to take it on an empty stomach, so I had to wait, not eating for a while before I was able to take it, and then wait 30 minutes to an hour afterward in order to eat again.

So, medicine taken, time waited, I ate and got ready to go to town. Then it hit me. I don't know if you, Gentle Reader, have ever taken multiple tequila shots and then realized that there is a waiting game with tequila. It's like this: You take a shot, you feel nothing. You begin to feel empowered and you take more shots. Then they start to kick in and you realize that even if you stop taking shots at this point, the rest of what you've already consumed is still going to be kicking in and you're probably in trouble. You might notice this when you stand up and turn to go to the restroom and the room stays in place and then catches up with your line of vision, which has already shifted to a different part of the room. You then realize that you can't walk with very much dignity, so you just do your best. While in the restroom you discover that you're very aware of your face, particularly your upper lip because it's tingling. Later you discover that you can't really feel your upper lip at all any more. Now, depending on how much you consumed before you realized the delayed reaction qualities of tequila you might at this point throw dignity to the wind and stumble helplessly to the bathroom to meet your new best friend, the porcelain toilet. Or, you might decide to make your escape only to witness your vomit beat you to the door of the establishment you're trying to exit. Projectile vomit is rarely considerate enough to actually open the door for you, it just makes it incredibly messy to do so and absolutely impossible to leave without everybody in the room looking at you and possibly laughing, applauding or threatening to call the police, or even all three.

Not that that's ever happened to me.

But, the "dizziness" that the bottle warned me about took me about halfway there. I was absolutely drunk, to the point that my upper lip tingled. I could still feel it (my lip) mostly, but I had to sit down and reconsider my trip to Austin.

As the days went by I tried various approaches to taking this medicine. Taking medicine on an empty stomach is much more easily done first thing in the morning, but clearly taking it when going to bed has benefits when this particular side effect is involved. Then I learned something. I don't know if you were paying attention before, but I wrote something earlier, a clue shall we say?  What I learned is that this dizziness doesn't kick in until I eat. So, taking it at night doesn't help because when I eat breakfast it kicks in then. I suppose that I could really work to make it happen properly by not eating for the required 2 hours (which is difficult enough as it is and only possible in a controlled environment, which doesn't leave room for hanging out with friends) and then taking the medicine and then eating 30 minutes to an hour later so that the dizziness kicks in and gets itself out of the way before I start my next day. I can't even guarantee, though, that it wouldn't kick in again when I ate the next day. I decided that taking it at night wasn't going to work for me. That's too much planning and I don't like to try to plan my life around taking a pill, even if that pill is keeping me alive. Besides, I fail miserably at taking pills every night. I do better first thing in the morning. So, being that it is a Very Important Medicine I felt I'd better do what I knew would work.

So, I stuck it out. I took the pill first thing in the morning and waited until I went to work and then I ate and then I was intoxicated at work, but I wasn't driving. I was just taking a very long time to do something that should have taken me 10 minutes to do.

As I ventured through life I found that this effect lessened. I also found that the medicine had other undesirable side effects, so now I take an antibitch medication along with it, which makes me clench my teeth so I take Advil as well. Before I began taking the antibitch medication I further learned that a side effect of the medication, aside from the dizziness, was that it made me stupid. I forgot things, like to take the medication that started all of it in the first place. This caused me to learn that the effect comes back when I miss a dose or several doses. It's not at full-force, upper-lip-tingling strength, but it does make me sit in my chair and swoon and it even makes me walk like I've had 1/4 of a drink too much. (By the way, nobody that I've talked to – nurses, doctors or pharmacists – has acknowledged that stupidity is a known side effect of Atripla.)

But, a couple of years down the road I think I've got it more under control. I carry a man-purse now, so I can keep back-up medicines with me so that in case I discover that I didn't take it in the morning I can take it at work, or wherever I happen to be. The messenger bag, as I like to call it and as it was sold to me, is so handy in so many ways that I can't even begin here to describe the benefits. But, before I digress completely let me come back around to my first paragraph. I was having a rough morning in a confused, disorganized way. I also noticed when I took my dose today that yesterday's dose was still in the daily pill dispenser, and I know that I didn't take it later in the day yesterday from my emergency stash. So, I realized that today is going to be one of those days. When I was sitting at Starbucks and found that my Nook wasn't in my bag I couldn't blame it on the meds because I hadn't eaten anything yet, so I had to chalk it up to a bad, disorganized morning. Halfway through the coffee the intoxication began to kick in so I headed home and clumsily began writing this instead of outlining the events of the morning, which are probably more humorous, but don't have as much socially redeeming value.

One other thing I've learned that's worth mentioning is that, though I feel intoxicated – I walk and often talk like I'm intoxicated – I don't experience the dropping of inhibitions that accompanies actual, alcohol-induced intoxication. So, while I am a little concerned at work that somebody will see me walk crooked, I don't really have to be concerned that I'll make bad decisions with regards to the maintenance man who I've been planning on doing unwholesome things to for 5 years now.

And now, I'm going to eat lunch and take a nap.