Monday, April 19, 2010

Better Living Through Chemistry

It's taken me a week to be able to comfortably and competently write this, because it's taken me about a this long to readjust to 'normal' after the minor medical miscalculation I made.

Of course, since this is a post about me and ADHD, it would figure that I'd start somewhere in the middle of the story.... All right, let me back up a bit and explain what happened:

A mail-order script for my medication was processed and shipped to my apartment building. It needed to be signed for, but my building manager failed to so. Twice.

After counting what precious little of my (medically prescribed) stash remained, I spent an hour or two on the phone with my insurance company and the post office. I found out that the package was going to be returned to the mail-order people, but I was promised that they'd slap a new address label on it and send it to my office, instead.


In the meantime, I realized that I was facing going cold turkey off my ADHD medication. But I countered my anxiety by telling myself "This is not a big deal! I can totally focus and be productive with a very low and/or nonexistent dose."

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The first day of an extremely lowered dose was the day after my 5K walk/run,  I was already really tired, not to mention sore and not exactly in the mood to be at work. But other than starting to doze off during a late-afternoon conference call (which was only slightly mortifying) I did okay.

Day two, I was determined not to make the same mistake. I don't know how I thought I'd do better, since I had even fewer meds on hand by this point. Before my 9.30 AM meeting, I had a large cup of tea, followed by a large cup of coffee (which I never drink). But halfway through the meeting, I started to fall asleep. And in a desperate attempt to not to do so, I started shifting in my seat, blinking my eyes ... and, apparently, bopping my head along as my coworkers talked.

"Jess? I see you nodding in agreement, do you have something to add?" asked my supervisor.

I snapped my head up from my (scrawled, smeary) notes to make eye contact. "Nope, just following along," I quickly replied.

That afternoon was agony.  I stayed in my cubicle, determined not to inflict my dazed and bitchy self on my coworkers. But as I bounced from project to project, from attempting small website edits to composing template email responses, my complete and utter inability to focus was driving me crazy. I couldn't get comfortable. Plus, my stomach ached from all the coffee I'd had to drink. I felt mean, tired and had no patience for friendly IM's, silly emails or... well, anything.

When I finally saw my doctor that evening, she wrote a refill scrip to tide me over.
"Why did you do this to yourself?" she asked. 
"I thought I could do it," I replied. "I mean, I do okay on the weekends without the medication."
She studied me for a moment. Then she said: "You're like a diabetic who can't go without insulin in certain situations. This is a real medical condition that you're being treated for. You need to take care of yourself."

I felt stupid and ashamed. But now that I can focus again, I know that she's right. And I will.
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