Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just a spoonful -- or two -- of sugar helps the medicine go down

posted Wed, 10 Nov 2004

Oy gevalt. (Yes, you are allowed to say that even if you aren’t Jewish. My grandma Sylvia grew up in the German part of Milwaukee. Her first language was German and she says “Oy gevalt” all the time. I didn’t know it was also Yiddish until I was in college, which was when I learned that potato pancakes were also a traditional Yiddish food. I thought that was just something my dad made when he was in charge of supper.)

So. Oy gevalt. The topamax has failed me, as Dr L was very quick to say when my face crumpled yesterday at his first statement that I had failed on topamax. “I don’t fail!” I told him. “I’m an ‘A’ student!” (Well, I was until I got to college and met some real competition, anyhow. Then I quickly became a ‘C’ student until I got off my butt and studied, but it took two years for me to learn that lesson. Slow learner.)

The topamax has failed to stop my migraines, although I have lost eight pounds in the past five weeks without even trying. Yes, it’s because I have eaten only about 1,200 calories a day, but that’s easy to do if you’re not hungry. And in pain.

Even so, I still have that flabby belly and arms and butt, so this weight loss thing is not exactly what I had intended. One of my little old Russian ladies at the gym saw me undressed in the locker room and told me not to lose any more weight. “Too much from here,” she said, gesturing to her neck and face.

“I know,” I told her. “It comes off from the top” (where I have nothing to lose) “and comes on from the bottom.”

“I now, I now,” she said sympathetically, pointing to her own thighs. I guess even when you are 75, you still worry about your figure. (Yes, she said “now” and not “know.” She has a charming accent.)

Back at the ranch, Dr L scrolled through his handy drug palm pilot, seeking other options. With every suggestion, I asked for the side effects. With the beta blockers, the potential side effects are pretty harsh. I know the drug companies are covering themselves, but still. You almost wonder if it might not be better to be in pain. On the topamax, my blood pressure, usually in the 100-110 range, dropped to 90/60 and I was dizzy – and it didn’t even work!

We discussed and discarded alternatives until he hit a good one: “Riboflavin has been shown to work in migraine prophylaxis,” he said.

Isn’t that just a B vitamin, I asked?

Yes, he told me, but you take it in megadoses. I hied myself to Walgreen’s in search of B2 in 400 mg units. They didn’t have it. Best I could find was 100 mg doses coupled with other B vitamins. I asked the pharmacist if taking megadoses of the others would be dangerous. I didn’t want to turn orange like you do with extra vitamin A. (At least I think it’s vitamin A that does it. Can’t remember. One of those oil-soluable vitamins.)

Nope. I’m OK. As my sister says, it just gives you really expensive (and bright yellow) urine.

The next challenge is organizing all this stuff. I have to taper off the topamax, so still have to take it for a while, which is good, because I would like to drop another ten pounds. Just once, I want to weigh what the weight charts say I should weigh. Just once. Don’t worry, mom. I am not too thin. C’est pas posible with me. Remember when I started the topamax I had just returned from two weeks in Italy – and a week of that at a cooking school.

So. I already have the plastic pillboxes – the little old lady Sunday through Saturday ones. I have a morning set and an evening set. You laugh, but they make my life easier. I take a multivitamin, a BCP, an antibiotic that keeps me from breaking out (it is so unfair to get gray hair and acne at the same time), glucosamine chondroitin (it works), iron (it’s not in the multivitamin), calcium (ditto), and folic acid (ditto). The glucosamine (which is from ground-up chicken bones, by the way), calcim and folic acid are twice a day. Try sorting that stuff out every day and you’ll see why I resort to a once-a-week pillbox-stuffing party.

And now I have to fit four more (remember, only 100 mg per riboflavin tablet) tablets into these boxes! Calcium and glucosamine are big. Already, these things do not fit into the pillbox. And now I have more to swallow. Sheesh.

I got it all in, but barely. It’s a snug fit. If anything else goes wrong with me, I will have to live with it. I am not buying any more pillboxes. And I am not swallowing any more pills.


  1. When I saw that you were taking an antibiotic everyday I had to say something. That is the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself. It kills all bacteria which means it wipes out your beneficial bacteria too. Then you are left with a compromized immune system. Please research this then get to your local health food store and purchase a bottle of probiotics and some yogurt which will restore the beneficial bacteria (after you quit taking the antibiotics). I wouldn't be suprised if there is a correlation between the antibiotics and the pain. Your skin will clear up too.

    Wishing you the best.

  2. Hi Tracy,

    This is actually my archive blog, where I am reposting all of the the stuff that journalspace lost but I am not bitter. I am no longer taking the antibiotics. I do, however, still have the skin problems. Would the probiotics help with that?