Treating any illness is a balancing act of sorts. Always adjusting as you go. How much do you put up with medication side effects? How much do you rest? Where is the trade off equilibrium? Always shifting, always adjusting.
I hate it. And I am not very good at it. Six years into Bipolar and I still doubt my every move…except my running. I don’t doubt that. That, honestly, I hold sacred and am currently shaping the rest of my treatment around it.
A few years ago I was a few months from running a half-marathon. Suddenly I went from running 10 miles at a time to 2-3 sidewalk slabs at a time. I tried compression socks. I tried changing my route. I tried adding music to my runs. Anything I could think of and it just kept getting worse until I gave up running altogether.
Turns out, it was a medication side effect I was on. It was causing extreme muscle weakness. By the time I realized the cause, it was too late. I could no longer run.
That med and I parted ways due to other issues.
I ultimately started running again and did alright until an injury sidelined me. Last August, finally found me well enough and confident enough to give running another go…and here I am, talking about it non-stop.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I started to feel that heaviness in the legs again. This time I had a clue what was happening…I looked up my newest medication and there is was listed under side effects…muscle weakness in the legs. I dropped that darn med like a hot potato (with medical approval) and the heaviness is gone.
Next, I got to thinking about the shortness of breath that has plagued me. I have had a full heart work up. That is not the problem. I recently had pulmonary tests done. All good there. I have been able to get some relief with a great essential oil I use, but it is still nagging me.
Um, wait, I am still on one of my psych meds that I am actually allergic too and the reaction is trouble breathing and swallowing. We have been able to keep those to a minimum with a lower dose, but what if that is part of the problem, so, again, with medical approval, I went off that medication. The breathing is better. Not perfect, I am still a little frustrated there, but I have hope.
Unfortunately, being without these meds has its drawbacks. Getting off of them has been a bumpier process than I had hoped. My mental reactions have changed. I am seeing some red flags I know I have to keep an eye on.
And I am bummed. I had envisioned coming off the meds without a hitch. In my minds-eye, I didn’t need the doctor’s cautions about why we use those meds and what might happen without them. So what am I doing? Contrary to logic, I am getting lazier with the meds I am still on. Because that will help, right? Last night I decided I didn’t need my meds, I would be fine without them…so I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep, which really helps things. On the upside, last night reminded me how important my medication regimen is…I took my morning meds exactly as I should and trust me, I will take all of tonight’s dose.
I am still hopeful that with lots of self-care and hard work, I can stay on the new medication plan, but at the same time, I am scared. What if I can’t do it? What if I am stuck with meds that will influence me physically? What if I am not strong enough to do it all?