Barb’s Bad Trip, or The Importance of Researching Drug Interactions

I’m really happy to say that aside from the persistent cough from hell, I am over the horrible head cold I contracted at the beginning of February. It was a bad one. It scared me, if I’m honest. I thought I was never going to feel better. I was wondering if it was a function of getting older, or if bugs are evolving into frightening, insidious things that attack you from a whole host of angles. Either conclusion had me worried about future illnesses.

But it turns out that I brought much of my woes upon myself. Because I had such horrible vertigo and mental confusion, and a desire to sleep at least 20 hours a day, I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. If I had been, things would have gone much differently.

Much of the time I was so dizzy that I felt as if I were floating 6 inches above the ground. And unfortunately, I often didn’t feel as though I were floating upright. Sometimes I felt like I was sideways or even upside down, or swinging slowly back and forth. And I couldn’t focus on anything. People would tell me things and I’d forget them 30 seconds later. And I couldn’t recall words for the simplest things, which made it impossible to communicate clearly.

Me (while floating upside down), “Hey, um, what’s your name? Could you get me a thingamajig? I need it for… something or other. La la la la la…Zzzzzzzzzzzz”

The scary part is that I tried to power through. I drove my car in that state. I operated a drawbridge, possibly the heaviest piece of equipment on earth. La la la la la.

But I just had a weird, modern head cold, right? I’ll be fine. Nothin’ to see here. (My goodness, but people look funny when you’re looking down at them from midair. Wheeeee…)

Sometimes I’d start to feel better, and I’d get all hopeful, and then a few hours later I was floating again. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so awful.

And then one day, something happened that even I couldn’t giggle haplessly through. I had a dentist appointment to get a filling in a tooth. I remember driving there. I remember walking in the door. But I don’t remember anything about the visit. Nothing. I “woke up” halfway home, half my face numb from Novocain, not knowing where I was. And I was alone. Driving.

Okay, so this isn’t just a simple head cold. Something is seriously, seriously wrong. So wrong.

So I started reading up on the medications I was taking for the cold. My doctor had been out of town, so her colleague had suggested, among many other things, Nyquil, Dayquil, Mucinex, and either Robitussin or Delsym for the cough. Well, I had all those things in my cupboard. (Actually, I had Mucinex DM, not plain Mucinex, but heck, it was Mucinex, right?)

It turns out that all of those things, without exception, have one thing in common. Dextromethorphan. And what are some of the possible side effects of Dextromethorphan? Dizziness, mental confusion, and exhaustion. And oh, by the way, one should not take Dextromethorphan while taking a certain kind of anti-depressant that I just happen to take.

Oh, joy. Much of this had nothing to do with the sickness at all. In actual fact, I had been stoned out of my flipping mind for two weeks. And I’d start to feel better, but then I’d take some more meds to help speed up the process, and I’d be tripping once again. 24 hours after I stopped taking all of that stuff, I felt just fine, except for the cough.

I can’t stress this enough, dear reader. Read about your medications before you take them, even if they are over the counter things. Ask questions. Discuss their interactions with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Be an active participant in your health care.

The ugly truth is that I could have killed myself or someone else. That’s such a sobering thought that all the Dextromethorphan in the world can’t wipe it from my mind. That was a bad trip, and as with most bad trips, it could have easily been prevented.

This experience also reinforces my desire not to do drugs. Believe you me, I’ll just be saying no for a long time to come. No, no, a thousand times no.

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3 thoughts on “Barb’s Bad Trip, or The Importance of Researching Drug Interactions

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    Yow.
    I’m off the dex….also. I’m glad you are recovering. Are you sure you didn’t have the coronavirus?
    I don’t think you brought it entirely on yourself…you just didn’t have enough info about the drugs involved, and it sounds like your spouse didn’t either.
    A few years back I nearly lost a relative who turned out to have pneumonia. I got this person taken to the hospital and there saved, but I still wish I’d done it a few hours earlier. Moral: study up on drugs, and also on recurrent conditions faced by near and dear.

    1. Yes indeed. And of course I can’t be sure what I had, but from what I’m reading, Covid 19 attacks from deep within the lungs, and all my stuff stayed in the head and very upper part of the chest, so I’m thinkin’ not. I still have the cough but the doc thinks it’s now a sinus infection and I’m on antibiotics. Hope I don’t encounter Covid 19 while I’m still battling this other junk.

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