Struck by Seratonin Syndrome
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.”https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/serotonin-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354758#:~:text=Serotonin%20is%20a%20chemical%20that,cause%20death%20if%20not%20treated.
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.
Does anyone still care about this blog?