Friday, September 3, 2010

The Curious Case of Advil and Motrin

So, ibuprofen. A wonder drug, yes? Treats those aches & pains like no other. No side effects. Beautiful, right?

Until you discover you are allergic to it. Yes, this can ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Maybe not to normal people, but to me, yes. Here's the fascinating part: an ibuprofen allergy pretty much mimics Fibromyalgia.

I've been feeling nasty for weeks. All over body pain, concentrated in my arms, sometimes my legs. Headaches. Nausea. Fatigue. Vertigo. A few months back, the dreaded Fibromyalgia diagnosis came, and since it's a life-long thing, I was just starting to figure out how to cope with it.

Due to the pain, I have to take things to make me functional. I have Tylenol 3 (aka, my friend, Codeine), but didn't want to become dependent on it, so I usually treated myself with OTC meds. Tylenol itself is useless to me (I think I'm resistant after a couple surgeries) and therefore, I turned to my old standby: Advil (and whatever other ibuprofens I found around here.)

Over the course of the past 3 months, I've had to take it nearly daily-I would awaken with a headache, or my arms hurt so bad I couldn't move, or I felt generally lousy, or you know, I FRACTURED MAH TOE. The little orange or red pills were a constant in my life-I always carried them, they are at my desk at work, here in the cabinet-you name it, there they were, comforting me with their quiet presence.

Here's the rub: I was feeling more and more peculiar every day. I couldn't get out of bed. I had constant migraines. The pain was worse. I attributed ALL of this, to my bloody valentine: Topamax, and the withdrawl from it.

This past weekend, though, I tipped the scales: I ATE KEY LIME PIE. Why is this an issue? HELLO, WHEAT AND EGGS, HOW I MISSED YOU. OH, LOOK, MY HEAD A'SPLODE FROM PAIN.

Whoops. So I downed 3 Advil (above the normal dose, but less than prescription strength, and for a migraine, the norm.) After about an hour, I was high as a kite. I stupidly DROVE home on this, too. I imagine driving drunk is similar to this. Scary, and not something I'd recommend. Luckily, it was late, there weren't many cars on the road, and I didn't hit anything-but the whole ride I was gripping the steering wheel like it was a life preserver. A pass, this time. Lesson learned.

The next day, I awakened with a bender of a headache. I assumed it was the after effects of the migraine, and popped two advil. Srsly. Within in an hour, I was drugged out, and the PAIN. OH THE ARM PAIN. Who knew?

So I did me some research. You know what they don't tell you? The side effects of ibuprofen. Like, anywhere useful, say, THE BOTTLE. TEH INTERNETS TELL ALL, though. Page after page of side effects-identical to my own. Apparently, ibuprofen is scary stuff, and toxic to some people. AND I AM A LUCKY MEMBER OF THIS GROUP.

I quit my little friends, cold turkey. Within days, no arm and leg pain. Headaches and vertigo, better. AND I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. Did I mention, it can cause insomnia, too?

So, word to the wise, check your OTC drugs for side effects. I can has allergies to safe medications? YES, I CAN HAS.

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