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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And Away We Go

Imagine sitting in the recliner in your living room, only to discover that it has somehow been attached to a bull riding machine straight from the nearest honkey-tonk. Granted, it’s on the lowest setting, the one designed to make you look sexy, not throw you to the ground in a beer-stained heap. But still, you’re not feeling particularly sexy, because this is, after all, your living room, and stuff isn’t supposed to move.

Welcome to my world at the moment. My latest head cold comes with the vertigo accessory, even though I don’t remember ordering it. Can I get a refund? Please?

In theory, I’m watching TV, but everything is gently rocking and slowly spinning, and it’s all I can do to hold on, let alone focus on the show. I’m being taken for a ride. I want to get off.

Even typing this blog is a challenge. I have to remind myself that the keyboard is oriented to me. I don’t have to chase it. I’m actually finding it easier to type with my eyes closed.

Is this what Dorothy felt like when she went to Oz? I never noticed what a funny name Oz was before. Okay, I’m delirious, too. Yippee.

Why do we say a pair of pants? It’s just one. It’s not like you’d ever separate the legs and use them independently. A pair of pants should be two pants. Same with a pair of scissors. Just because scissors have two blades doesn’t make them a pair. Try using one blade without the other sometime and see how far you get. These things seem very important all of a sudden.

My dog is worried about me. He keeps jumping up into my lap. I try to warn him off, because I wouldn’t wish Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride on anyone, but for him, loyalty is everything. I tell you what, though, if the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t be sitting on his lap. No way, no how.

I see my mother’s picture float past. I miss my mother the most when I’m sick. She was really good at holding my hair out of the way when I threw up, and bringing me flat ginger ale and crackers afterwards. That’s a character trait that separates the men from the boys, if you ask me. If your person isn’t willing to hold your hair while you throw up, well, then, it’s a slippery slope, is all I’m sayin’.

And there goes my father’s memorial flag, all folded up in its triangle, some of the 21 gun salute bullet casings inside. I keep it to honor the one good thing he did. As it floats past, it occurs to me that that flag got closer to him than I ever did. How pathetic is that?

Whoa. What? The sun jumped across the sky. Or maybe I fell asleep. Yeah. That’s what happened. I fell asleep. I think I dreamed I was bobbing on the ocean. And what do you know? I still am.

I’m not enjoying myself, here.

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Don’t Overdo

Your body is one smart cookie. It tries to talk to you all the time. Are you listening?

It’s really tempting to push through pain and exhaustion to finish up what you’re trying to get done. Believe me. I know. It’s also hard to stop having fun even when your body is protesting. But it’s not as if you get to trade your body in for a newer model if you wear it out. Aside from the possibility of a few replacement parts, this carcass, flawed as it may be, is pretty much it for you. So it’s important to take care of it.

The day I wrote this, I had been mowing the lawn in the hot sun. It was the only opportunity I would have to do it this week, and I really didn’t want my neighbors to give me the stink eye due to my neglect. That, and the lawn does look better when it’s properly maintained. So mow I did.

But I had to keep taking breaks. I was sweating profusely. My heart was pounding. I was getting dizzy. More and more, I had to stop, sit in the shade, drink some iced tea, and lie flat until my heart slowed down a bit. Then I’d mow some more, and sure enough, it would happen again. I’m neither as young nor as thin as I used to be.

At one point I thought I was going to pass out or vomit. Back to the shade. As I lay there, I thought, “You know, I could die. All alone in my yard.” That would suck. I have plans. I’m working toward a future, here!

Suddenly I realized that the lawn was not worth dying for. Common sense, you’d think. But it was actually an epiphany for me. So, the front lawn looks great, but the back yard is choked with dandelions and clover. But, hey, I’m alive. And the bees are thrilled.

Afterward I took a cool bath, and then a nap, and felt much better for it. I bet my body is astounded that it took me so long to wise up. I suspect it feels like that quite often.

I need to become a better self-listener. I’m not going to win some prize for pushing myself too far. There are no medals for abusing one’s health. I don’t know about you, but I want to live to mow another day.

Bee and Dandelion

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