Tuesday, March 05, 2002

"Novocaine for the soul..."

I can't do this. I seriously cannot do this.

The pills, man. They fuck me up like you wouldn't believe. Tegratol, 1200mg a day. I can tweak the times I take them, make sure I eat first. whatever- and it never gets any better than this. Like today: I had to miss class because I couldn't get out of the bloody bed. You think that's funny? Of course you do- you're a moron. Let me give you a run down of the side-effects, so you can have a really good laugh.

First, there's the way they make my eyes dry up so I keep getting infections. Then there's the way my mouth feels like it's been stuffed with cotton-wool half the time; I'm always thirsty. I can drink pint after pint of water and still be thirsty. But I could live with those. What bothers me is this: I'm tired.

I'm so tired I could just keel over. I wake up wanting nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep, but I know that even if I do it won't make any difference. Six hours, eight hours, half a day- it all feels the same. Sometimes I'll sit down with a book and five minutes later I'll just be spark out.

Conversely, when I do sleep, I don't sleep properly. Sometimes I'll see in two o'clock, or three, or four. I'll lie in bed and listen to the cars going by, the sirens, the growl of a double-decker bus. And the relentless tick-tick-tick of the poxy alarm clock by my bed, telling me that the night is slipping by me, unslept, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Stop taking them? Ha bloody ha. You don't know how many times I've wanted to do just that. Flush the whole lot down the loo and have done with it. But that would mean going back to how I was before I started taking them.

A lot of people think doctors overprescribe epilepsy drugs. They do. One survey tentatively put the number of wrongly-medicated folk at five times the rate of actual epileptics. Could be wrong, of course, but nobody's really counting. Epilepsy isn't sexy. Celebs who'll spill their guts all over the colour supplements about their drug dependancy or their diabetes, but they're loth to tell everyone "Oh, and by the way, I sometimes fall over and start twitching and frothing at the mouth."

No, the irony is that these pills weren't pushed on me. I begged for them. Begged as the fits got more frequent and worse, begged as my life slipped further and further into the mire, begged as I struggled to hold down my job. It took years. By the end I was ready to lick my GP's boots if he'd only help me to do something about the monster in my head that was chucking me to the floor three or four times a day.

In the end I got the meds. Didn't work. The dose had to be upped. Eventually the fits had stopped but I was stumbling round the house on rubber legs, eyes rolling in a head I lacked the strength to hold up. Tegretol suppresses the electrical signals in the brain, you see, but it also seems to do a number on the body.

The side-effects receded, and I could function again. Just. But I'm so fucking tired I could scream and my head feels full of fog and this is as good as it's going to get. This is as good as it'll ever get for me.

Why am I telling you this? Because nobody else will. Why should you care? Well, you probably don't. You are, after all, a moron.

And I hate you.

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