I must have sprouted stealth armor, because I totally fell off the radar for a couple of weeks there. I mean, I was low on the scanner already, because I was keeping my head down and working my butt off. But two weeks ago, I had to stop. My. Life.
I got brain poisoning. Such a short sentence--four little words--yet so terrifying. I'm still kind of stunned that I'm not dead. Or maybe that stunned feeling is just the meds.
Meds meds meds. Dude, the meds. Okay, technically it's just one med. The ER doc gave me Lorazepam, and it gave me back my sanity by balancing my brain chemistry. But that's only the end of the story.
I had a nasty migraine going on the week before that. Three days straight. I was at my wits' end, so I went to my PCP. She gave me an Imitrex shot for the migraine, but it backfired, big time. I dropped straight into Serotonin Syndrome (later confirmed by the ER doc and by my new PCP--we'll get to him in a minute). And as I lay muttering and flailing on my doctor's exam room table, she...played with my son.
I couldn't make this up. Because I don't write horror.
I lay there and blurted out my strange symptoms in a desperate attempt to get her to interact with my immediate situation. All the while, I wondered why I had a long-fingered troll with a wraith feeding hand gripping the back of my neck, sucking all my energy out. My limbs were cast in rubbery concrete. After twenty or so minutes of not having my vitals checked and not being otherwise examined in any way from across the room, I heard my doctor say she needed to take me home.
I couldn't even stand up, yo. How's that gonna work? Well, there was a nice young nurse and a wheelchair, and some hopefully coherent small talk on the way across town--the wrong direction from the ER, by the way, which was literally a stone's throw from the doc's office. And it was literally the only place she should have been taking me for such a serious reaction.
I work with motives and character background for a living, and I do not understand why she did what she did. Unless... She did prescribe me a migraine medication that said in its warning section, "Do not take this drug if you are allergic to opioids (eg. Morphine)." Well, guess who's allergic to morphine? Trying to get rid of the witness, perhaps? Probably not, but what else am I to think when she tries to kill me twice in one day? I'm supposed to think it's time for a new PCP, that's what.
I lay in bed all day, drained. The next day, my head was screaming. The day after that, it was still screaming. On Friday, I felt my equilibrium tip and spill me down into endless darkness, and waves of depressed weeping swept over me like storms. I died inside sometime that day, and I remember not mourning, because nothing mattered.
I got better, then worse again, and worried it would kill me that time, so I sought help at the ER, where the doctor, despite my crazy fears that nothing would change, actually diagnosed me properly and gave me some medication. I popped half a pill there in the ER, and by the time I got home, I'd been raised from the dead.
I got a new PCP the next day, and even an appointment, because I needed someone to oversee my new treatment plan. His last words to me as I left the exam room--on my own two feet, might I add: "I will not abandon you." I think he's a keeper.
It's been a crazy week since then, knowing that I remember who I am as long as I'm on the pills, waiting for the Serotonin Symptoms to fade away on their own--because nothing can cure it; it's a waiting game. I sometimes get periods of several hours when I'm off the meds and I'm still me. But that first warning symptom that I'm not out of the woods yet is always that troll's crushing grip on the back of my neck, and the acid headache that spills upward into the back of my skull.
I now know what it's like to have a serious chemical imbalance in the brain. I know the crazy, and that fighting it alone is futile. I know that help is essential. I know my prognosis is good, since the syndrome is only temporary. I've been to crazy. It was indeed a short trip--about two minutes flat for the syndrome to kick in--but I don't ever want to go there again.
I've been working, cautiously and at a slow pace, this past week. I've done a bit of editing on two books, and a bit of writing on a third. It feels good, like warm summer light after the tornado has passed. I remember who I was, and I am willing myself to be that person again.
And yes, I'm totally noting every detail of my sudden, dangerous experience for potential inclusion in one of my books someday. Because that's who I am, too.