I’m still feeling shitty from Serotonin Syndrome –see the previous post about it here—. At least, I assume it’s still Serotonin Syndrome based on my symptoms. I haven’t been able to sleep consistently, have frequent headaches, and am extremely sensitive to light and sound; I have random aches and pains in my back and neck, and barely able to take care of myself before I park in my office chair and scroll mindlessly or watch comfort tv/movies because mental effort makes my head hurt.
It concerns me enough that I’ll be calling the nurse line at my doctor’s office to get medical advice. I should be doing better by now. My doctor said that this condition should resolve in two weeks. Yet I don’t feel much better and can’t leave the house. I tried so last Thursday because I was craving ice cream from a trendy fusion spot, and I paid the price for days because it was bright and sunny. This was even though it was a 20-minute round trip. That was a mistake.
I guess that was the eye of the storm where I briefly felt better. I’ve been doing the right thing, yet I still feel shitty.
And my original paid leave expires Monday. I have no reason to think that work wouldn’t be okay with me taking more time off to feel better… (Well, I have some apologies to make due to mistakes I made before medical leave). Maybe this awful feeling that something is wrong is anxiety.
Well, that’s probably a side effect of stopping the antidepressant that caused this. …Or just because.
I’m so tired of struggling with my health. I’m sick of experiencing horrible side effects with medicines.
On top of this, I’m going through an existential crisis and a breakthrough in a way. The little time I have not been in pain I’m thinking about my future. Is this the best I can do? Is this the life I want? Being alone with your thoughts with few distractions does that. I’m ready to change my life whenever I’m healthy. I’m ready.
I’m not going to make a promise when I am blogging again regularly because I don’t know when. It currently hurts me to exert myself, which causes pain when I write mentally. I must take care of myself and get my life back on track. See you all soon!
P.S. I guess being able to write this post is proof that I have recovered somewhat. I’ll take that win.
I’m back, but out of work on Paid Family Medical Leave
Thank my state for being civilized with paid medical leave. An outlier in the US.
Since the second week of February, I’ve been experiencing new strange symptoms. Some went away, such as increased dry mouth, thirst, and excessive sweating while sleeping. Some symptoms did not. The concerning ones stayed.
My brief history of prescription medications
As a man long familiar with prescription medication, I am all too familiar with the risks from side effects. Prescription drugs and specialized support in preschool saved me from a seizure disorder I had as a toddler. I haven’t had a seizure since. Thankfully.
The only other time I needed medical attention was began seeing a psychiatrist for help and was prescribed Vivance, an amphetamine medication used to treat ADD. It caused me to have a heart attack in my early twenties. Worse yet, when my mother called him to tell him what happened, he coldly said: “What do you want me to do.”
After recovering with no damage to my heart and healthy results from tests on my heart, I tried again with a different psychiatrist. I discovered that I had severe chest pain or other similar heart attack-like symptoms with every other amphetamine-type medicine for ADD. In 2010, there were two nonamphetamines ADD medicine options (the exact same as the day, to my knowledge), Strattera and Guanfacine. The former didn’t help. While the latter did help, it wasn’t generic. It wasn’t covered by insurance (Typical because insurance companies play these games to make a profit over helping people. AND add insult to injury and tell you to try medications you’ve already tried before.)… Which meant it was $150 a month in 2010 dollars. I couldn’t afford it until two years later at Washington Apple Health.
After changing jobs and careers a couple times I learned first hand how screwed up insurance companies are with coverage regarding medicines. Whatever they say the cost of prescriptions is on your plan (with the exception of Washington Apple Health which is state Medicaid and covers stuff 100%) is a lie. Often they say they cover non generic, but try to fill it and they decide they don’t want to because it’s “too expensive” aka not profitable. (This is the case Even if you are paying for private insurance). Even if it’s the only medicine that works for you. The only place to get the actual price is to ask a pharmacist outside of your insurance what the out of pocket price is. No matter the insurance company or coverage, the bullshit was the same. It is confusing, deliberately made to be hard to understand your coverage, and if you have a serious accident, you go into debt. Lots of jobs tie insurance to it. Lose your job in most states and you lose coverage. If you are poor in America, you’re fucked.
Back to the future
2023. All these years later on my personal mental health journey for sanity and I’m still struggling with the same stuff as 13 years ago. That is to say, to find a medicine to treat depression that won’t kill me, or makes my life worse than before taking it. I’m glad to say that Guanfacine works to treat the ADD I have and became generic a couple of years ago, so it is affordable. My struggle with antidepressants continues.
What is Seratonin Syndrome?
“Serotonin is a chemical that the body produces naturally. It’s needed for the nerve cells and brain to function. But too much serotonin causes signs and symptoms that can range from mild (shivering and diarrhea) to severe (muscle rigidity, fever and seizures). Severe serotonin syndrome can cause death if not treated.”
Usually, when googling symptoms online, it’s common to get a worst-case scenario for whatever health-thing you are going through.
In this case, it was true.
I started having these symptoms two weeks after my doctor suggested that increasing the dose of my antidepressant could help with depression. Since I’ve been taking this medication for months without side effects, upping the dose didn’t seem to be a risk.
We were both wrong. While I eventually returned to work on February 22nd, and worked the next day, I had to take Friday off due to a migraine. And despite work helping me out with reasonable accommodations by adding a new policy, and buying me sound-reducing earplugs, and me buying brand new sound-dampening headphones, I had another migraine sick day last week.
So, while these symptoms are diagnosed as serotonin syndrome by my doctor, the noisy environment likely didn’t help. Being autistic and having long covid each make me sensory sensitive.
Therefore, starting today I will be off work under paid medical leave until the 27th to recover. And I didn’t know until today, that I have wait 15 to 20 days to receive this pay. Which is bullshit. The process is annoying when you’re healthy—figuring it out while sick is cruel. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was due to lobbying by the insurance industry. 15 to 20 days for an online application is unacceptable.
Well, I did it and now I have to wait to complete my application. The insurance company won’t (I asked the people at the doctors office). Can’t do anything else.
At least I am able to write again. I physically couldn’t due to headaches.
Even before this happened, I wondered if continuing was worth it. I loathe the SEO process, and having to advertise to get readers and feel that I’ve lost my purpose of blogging. I do not want to do SEO for a living or social media marketing. It feels like this is the only way to get noticed. Reading about how to articles or forums feels like I’m surrounded by snake oil salesman who only care about making money over the content. I lost the few friends I made doing this for different reasons, and its going on three years of blogging. I don’t want to blog for a living.
My lifelong mortal enemy strikes again to make life difficult: So Sunday I sent in a prescription in for a refill because it ran out. Following my doctors plan, I was expecting to pick up a new dose for my antidepressant from 20 to 40 mg. I get a call from the office saying that the insurance company (Applecare) not only won’t cover ANY dose of that antidepressant, but “suggested” other drugs to take instead. Drugs I’ve tried before in the past which did nothing for me or gave shitty side effects. My current med doesn’t give bad side effects and is the only antidepressant drug that’s ever worked for me and changed my life for the better.
Long story short, I called the number on the back of my insurance card and it was resolved in 5 minutes. Which is the great coverage and service I’ve come to expect from Community Health Plan of WA. I’m incredibly lucky to qualify for this right now because I’m unemployed. I get full coverage. I am so grateful for this health plan. So, having this happen was a slap in the face.
At the end of the month, insurance companies try to deny patients any prescribed drug which would be expensive for them to cover to save money. Apparently this has been happening since before I was born. Insurance companies count on you not fighting them so they can save money for themselves at your health expense.
Even if prescribed by a patients doctor, and even if that patient has tried every other available RX for that condition. If I had to pay out of pocket, my medicine would be $250-300 A MONTH for 30 pills. Which is what I’ll have to pay when I get a job again since most health plans don’t cover shit for prescription drugs, like my last plan with Kaiser Permanente. Hopefully I will know by the end of the day if this is resolved. Fuck you insurance companies.
Due to current prescription drug laws, it will be another 18 months before this medication is generic. AKA Affordable. That is if Trumps pick for the Supreme Court doesn’t throw out The Affordable Care Act and brings back “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage.
So, if you need to refill your prescriptions today, expect denial by your insurance company. Hopefully, it will be resolved with a phonecall and be covered again. That is if you have a reasonable health insurance company like I do. I wish anyone dealing with our nightmare American healthcare system luck. This alone is why nobody should move to America.
I hope that I don’t have to go long without my antidepressant. If I have to, I can cope until Thursday when it becomes October. I’m already feeling sad because my Dear Grandfather passed last week, and not having my regular dose of medication doesn’t help.
I dunno what is making me the most grumpy… The stressful world we live in, the uncertainty of finding work, not socializing with friends or family much, or the preexisting state of my DNA which led to my current health conditions I manage.
I’ve been on this unwilling ride to a healthy mental health for 12 years. That is far too long. Going in, I expected maybe 5 years at most. I’m so tired of having my life on hold because insurance won’t cover my medication or therapy visits. I am really trying to be positive and believe that this year is the turning point. This is not for a lack of trying every other way such as self improvement tips, exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and so on. Half my depression is physical brain chemistry. The only way to treat it is with medicine.
This is why voting is so important this year. Trump hasn’t done shit to change the fucked up Healthcare system. Not that he has done anything to help anyone but himself and his cronies. I like Joe Biden. I doubt he will change much in the system thanks to how fucked up Trump has destroyed America. It’s simply a huge amount of work to recover from and so many burning issues to address.
God dammit, I just want to live in peace with minimal suffering. To make my way and have anyone struggling with medical conditions to not have to pay the equivalent of car payments for medicine. This system feels like its setup for you to fail. Going through the slow process of finding the medications to treat you is difficult. I am so fortunate that my daily survival doesn’t depend on my medications. Insurance companies don’t care about you. All you are is another expense while they pay their CEOs millions of dollars.
Thank you for reading my rant. How has your experience been with prescription drugs and the American Healthcare system?