Thursday, January 12, 2012

Update/Antidepressant rant

It's been three months since my last post.

Since then I went off the sublingual GcMAF and started MAF 314, which is the GcMAF yogurt.

I took my first dose on Halloween, I don't think I've missed a day. Since then I've felt better, I've felt worse, I've felt better, I've felt worse.

I thought for awhile my skin looked better but now I'm not so sure. I think my tongue looks healthier.

I think my digestion is better. Lately I've even tried eating chicken and fish again. I stopped eating meat regularly then totally a couple years ago because I didn't have enough energy to digest it. Every time I ate meat I'd end up feeling woozy, then quickly falling into a thick, dreamy sleep with my stomach churning, and I'd wake up suddenly two hours later.

I'm hoping if I can eat meat more often I might have a little more energy. I've been eating eggs for protein but I think this will be better.


While I was in Ohio for Christmas, I got called for jury duty in California. This happend a few years ago. I went to my old internist, Dr. M, who's office is just a 5 minute drive. He was happy to write my medical excuse even though I hadn't been to his office in a few years. Unfortunately when I asked him this time he said he didn't feel comfortable writing it since he hasn't seen me since. Which is understandable. But also so backward. I haven't been in to see him because it's not worth the effort. There hasn't been a cure for CFS in the last two years. He can't think I'm all better now?

So I called my "new internist", Dr. G. I switched to her because I felt Dr. M didn't really get CFS. On my first visit Dr. G made me feel like she really got it and I remember thinking she didn't say any of the typical wrong things. But on subsequent visits she did. And now going to her is worse than going to Dr. M, just a slightly longer drive.

Dr. M couldn't see me until next month, but Dr. G's office said it was a $25 charge for jury duty forms and I could come in anytime the next day. I considered driving myself but decided pretty quickly I shouldn't try. I thought about asking someone but before I could think too much Jim offered to drive me during his lunch break.

Jim never made it back to work. It took a long time to see the doctor.

She comes in with my chart. "So how are you doing? Are you back at USC?"

"No, I haven't been for years"

"So what are you doing are you working?"


"So...what are you doing?"


It's not an easy thing to say, that you are doing nothing, but it's the truth. And I am angry, because even though I haven't seen her in a year, she has my chart, she recognized me in the waiting room, she knows I have CFS, but she still doesn't get how bad it is.

It reminds me of a scene Dorothy Wall wrote about. She went to see her doctor for something, a doctor she'd been to before. She was very sick with CFS. It was a huge effort for her to get to the appointment, to make it through the appointment. She tells the doctor about her symptoms and it seems like she is listening. And then when the appointment is over the doctor recommends some play she saw. "You should see it." And she says "Doctor, I have chronic fatigue syndrome, I don't go to plays."

I loved that line when I first read it. You tell her Dorothy! I like to imagine it made this big impact on the doctor. But I think if it had been me to say it the doctor would just roll her eyes behind my back and think "what a dramatic bitch."

Dr. G says "...and you were seeing some 'famous specialist?'"

I almost didn't know what she meant. But I told her yes, I was still seing Dr. Cheney and that lately I had tried GcMAF, and now was trying GcMAF in yogurt form. She didn't ask what GcMAF was, which was a relief.

She asked if I was on any antidepressants and I said no. I remembered she asked this last time. I told her I didn't have any interest in going on antidepressants.

"But you are so young, it's such a shame should be out doing things..."

This is true, I think. It is a shame. It is a major shame. But please, please don't say it like that. It sounds like you are saying it is my fault. Like this is my choice. And I have tried so much. I've tried almost everything. I hate that she says this.

A neurologist specializing in sleep disorders said something similar to me once. First, she said she couldn't do a test on me because I was sleeping too much during the day and not enough at night and they didn't run the sleep clinic during the day. Then she said "Chronic fatigue is a syndrome, it's not a disease." She said something about how it can be corrected by things like changing your sleeping pattern and when she saw I was geting upset she said "You are a young girl. Pretty girl! Smart! Good Height. There is no need for this." Then I cried some more because I came all this way, she had been recommended so highly, and how could she help me if she thought that this fatigue was just some behavior pattern I'd adopted because I had low self esteem? Also I cried because I was sleep deprived and for me it was like the middle of the night.

Today I tried to sum up again for Dr. G how I have already tried six or seven antidepressants over five years and all that time I just got worse. Some of them made me sleep more. Some of them didn't make me sleep more. Some of them made me a little happier when I was awake. But none of them helped with my real problems, that I was tired all the time and needed to sleep 12-17 hours a day. And that I couldn't concentrate anymore. That I couldn't do math or write papers anymore. No antidepressant ever helped with that.

But she still said I should try the new SNRI's like Cymbalta. I said I just didn't see the point of going through that again. I'd never heard anything about Cymbalta helping with post-exertional malaise or anything.

Oddly enough, I looked up Cymbalta in Wikipedia tonight just before I wrote this and it said

"As of January 11, 2007, Eli Lilly is currently enrolling patients for double blind Phase II and Phase III trials of Cymbalta for the use of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati.[28] "

Funny coincidence. Maybe if I were living in Ohio I could be a part of that trial. Make myself useful. But then I'd probably have to go off the MAF 314 or something.

I also found out that Effexor, which I started my first year of college, is an SNRI. It got me through my first semester but one week into the second semester and I couldn't get out of bed. Definitely post-exertional malaise, in hindsight. That's when they took me off Effexor and put me on Adderall. "Just to keep me awake"

But my doctors kept telling me I should keep trying antidepressants until I found the right one. So I did. Before I started my first semester at USC I started Lexapro. (I think it was Lexapro) On Lexapro I was sleeping 17 hours a day. I was missing so much school it looked like I was going to have to drop out (and I did) but I was determined to listen to my doctor and stay on this medicine. My best friend, who was also my roommate then, was mad at me. When I told her I was on Lexapro she said she'd been on it too, it did the same thing to her, and I shouldn't waste time on it, I should just get off it. I should have listened to her, but then what would I tell my doctor? He was telling me to stay on it. He said sometimes it has side effects like this at first but they go away.

I think I stayed on it two or three months before I gave up. As soon as I got off it my sleeping went back to normal. (12 hours a day) But it was too late.

I took a few months off and then I went back on Prozac. I'd taken it for for six months when I was eighteen and I thought it was the one that had worked best. In retrospect, the fact that I felt better at this time probably had nothing to do with which drug I was on. I was already out of school and I stopped taking it before I started working. So I had a lot less stress and I could sleep as long as I needed, and I did. Also, I was younger and healthier and hadn't been sick as long.

When I tried Prozac again four years later it didn't do anything. Same when I combined it with Wellbutrin and Adderall and whatever they threw at me.

I haven't tried anymore since then. And I just don't have any interest.

Other things Dr. G said that annoyed me.

"When you go to the specialist, do you see that all the patients are women?"

"Well he only sees one patient a day so I've never seen..."

"Because most of the people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are young women your age."

I wish I had said "Why are you telling me this?" But instead I just said that a lot of the patients I see on the message board were men. I wish I hadn't said "message board" because as soon as I said that she cut me off. I didn't even mean message board like, normal internet message boards, I was actually referring to the Yahoo Group just for Cheney patients but I didn't make that clear.

So I never found out where she was going with that.

When trying to talk me into SNRI's she said "You have to run and jump and dance and..." and I cut her off and said "No, actually, exercise makes me worse" and Jim, who was setting next to me all this time, chimed in to agree.

"Well I just said jump and dance to mean you have to try everything."

I wanted to say "But I have tried everything"

Poor doctors, up late at night, pacing around their offices, thinking "What can you prescribe to the patient who's tried everything?"

And for the record I did try jumping, and dancing. They didn't help and probably made me worse.

In the end though she signed the form and I am excused from jury duty for one year. I asked if she could make it longer since there was no reason to expect I'd be better in a year. But she said that was as long as she could make it for unless the patient is over 80.

I wondered if I could find another local doctor before the next year so I wouldn't have to come back. One who understands and won't put me through this. But I think the chances are really, really small.