It's a GAD GAD World
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Another Saturday night & I ain't got no money...

I'm currently on 50mgs/day of Lamictal and it isn't working as well as it used to. The logical response would be to up my dosage to 75, but I'm scared to do that. I want to stay on as low of a dosage as possible because I'm afraid of dying.

Patients who take Lamictal carry a small risk of developing a fatal skin rash. Admittedly, the risk is "small", but this was what my doctor told me about the risk of liver failure with the riluzole, & I ended up with early signs of liver failure.

I'm just scared that one day I'm going to wake up with a skin rash & end up dead. And I can't go to a hospital. The ambulance ride alone would cost $830, and I currently have no health insurance. (That's how I got involved in this stuff in the first place. I needed help with my anxiety, and I couldn't afford a doctor, so I volunteered to be a guinea pig.)There is NO FUCKING WAY I could afford a hospital visit. And I couldn't call my doctor either. If he knew that a patient's life was in danger, he'd probably be ethically obligated (if not legally obligated) to do everything possible to save my life--included having me admitted to the hospital against my will. So if this skin rash thing ever happens, I'm going to get my affairs in order as best I can, lie on the couch, and wait to die.

Does that sound like a good prospect to you? Me either. That's why I'm trying not to take too much Lamictal.

I take my 50mgs/day during the week like I should, but then I go off it during the weekends. Trouble is I then have no motivation to do anything on the weekend, which is the only time I have to do certain things. And then it takes me till mid-week to feel like my old self again.

I've been thinking about this stuff for a while. (Hey, I'm GAD--conjuring up worst-case scenarios is one of the things I do best!) I really wanted to talk about it with my doctor on my last visit, but he didn't have time to see me after the presentation, and he was too nervous before. Plus we were in a semi-public area before the presentation, and it just wasn't appropriate to raise the issue.

I did have a theory that I shared with him, though. My doctor believes that glutamate plays a role in mood disorders. More specifically, he believes that having too much glutamate plays a role in mood disorders. Glutamate works by stimulating the brain cells. Too much glutamate destroys the brain cells by literally exciting them to death. So to put it simply, too much glutamate kills brain cells.

I've seen articles about studies that say that there's a link between being a couch potato who doesn't exercise one's brain & developing Alzheimer's, that people who are isolated and don't have a strong social support network have a greater risk of getting Alzheimer's, that being a pessimist with a negative attitude increases the risk of getting Alzheimer's, etc. Now, what's Alzheimer's? The accelerated deterioration of brain cells.

What if the couch potatoes are lazy because they're depressed and don't have the energy to get off the couch and stimulate their brains? What if the isolated people have some sort of anxiety disorder that prevents them from socializing like normal human beings? What if the negative attitude is just a manifestation of depression? What if the link between all of these things and Alzheimer's is that the glutamate is out of whack?

My doctor said it was an interesting theory. I said it might be a good idea to do a longitudinal study of people affected with mood disorders divided into 2 categories--those who take glutamate inhibitors and those who don't, and see which group has a higher rate of developing Alzheimer's. My doc said that would make an excellent study. And as he said it, I could see the wheels turning in his head in much the same way that they did when I asked if there were any other glutamate inhibitors I could take. :) Whoda thunk my puny non-medical brain could come up with something so revolutionary?

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