Antibiotics and Panic Disorder

When I decided to start blogging a little while ago, my initial intention wasn’t to focus primarily on my condition, because every person is of course much more than some illness that affects us at any given point in life, but I do feel that it can be good to share my experiences with people who can recognize themselves in my words and with whom I can exchange some words of support. I might create a new category related entirely to PD and my constant work in progress to “get back to life”, but let’s decide that a bit further down the road.

Speaking of antibiotics… 2014 has been a very unusual year for me so far, I purposefully say unusual and not bad although some pretty bad things happened in these last 3 months, but that can be a good topic for another blog. For now, I’ll limit myself to say that this seems to be a year that completely reverses many of the things I’ve been really used to lately, a year of strange and unexpected changes ( those of you who share my condition know how much we dislike them) and events that take unusual turns.

At the end of January I got sick with flu. Nothing strange in my case, I usually catch some respiratory illness at least once a year. I usually get very bad nasal inflammation due to my constant allergy problems, sore throat, high fever… and I also usually get rid of all this in some painful but predictable 7-10 days. Well… this time it was Murphy’s law at work, you know how it goes – “Anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong”. 🙂 And it did.

At the beginning, it didn’t seem serious at all. Slightly high fever, some throat pain, nose quite unusually clear… until I started coughing.  At first a little, then more and more, till it got to the point where it seemed that I would cough out an entire lung in the process or die due to choking and pretty bad stabbing pains in my chest. That was somewhere by the end of the week 2 of the ordeal, and it didn’t seem so funny any more. It was clear that I should go onto antibiotics because after all a pneumonia is a pneumonia, and even though it can also be viral, it’s not something you should take lightly. By then I was already working myself up at the mere idea of swallowing even just a single antibiotic because during my last PD relapse I developed such a low tolerance to these drugs, which is pretty funny when it comes from somebody like me who was once as a child literally stuffed with these pills by doctors and never had a single problem with any particular type or dosage. In this period of my life, on the contrary, apart from all sorts of intestinal problems and almost immediate worsening of my IBS, they literally affect my nervous system as well. Anxiety shoots up, muscles tighten, heart pulse doesn’t go under 100-110 even when I’m peacefully lying down, I get massive night sweating, my thoughts race even more quickly than usual and I can’t sleep… to name just a few things!!! 🙂 This sets me then into some temporary OCD counting mess – I feel sick, so I constantly count the number of pills and hours left till I can happily ditch the wretched medication and go on with my usual good old “tolerable” nervousness. 🙂

In spite of all this mental rebellion, I ended up with azithromycin, prescribed as supposedly the best choice for my pneumonia. However, it only exacerbated all my justified and unjustified concerns after watching an episode of one of those popular medical series, Emily Owens M.D., in which an intern literally killed an elderly lady with this medication because of not being aware of her heart condition, incompatible with azithromycin intake. So, like every good PD sufferer I started the famous WHAT IF rant in no time: WHAT IF my heart fails? WHAT IF I also have this chronic heart condition (Long QT syndrome, for those of you who know what I’m talking about… and no, I’m not a medical doctor, just a very well educated hypochondriac :)) ) and WHAT IF this is the real reason why I have all those frequent palpitations… so really, hey, WHAT IF I now develop a fatal arrhythmiaaaaa…. At this point I usually yell at myself: WHAT IF – SO WHAT??! IF YOU DEVELOP IT, YOU’LL DIE. END OF STORY. SHUT UP, OK?? Well, it’s not ok, but I’ll try to shut up, thank you very much… 😀

As you can clearly see, even though I diligently swallowed all my prescribed pills I’m still here, but I was definitely on the right way to check myself into a mental hospital all right. 🙂

However… 🙂 IF ONLY THAT WERE THE END OF THE STORY! Coughing improved for a couple of days, I started moving around a bit more… and unexpectedly enough, everything returned to square one. Lungs wanted to pop out again, fever got a bit higher once again and coughing worsened so much that I started chasing away people who were convinced that I was some sort of walking lethal biological weapon. After two more ups and downs and far into week 6 of this agony, it was decided that should be put onto an antibiotic again.  Again? DEAR LORD… anyway, trading potential permanent lung damage, chest pains and total lack of strength for some amount of utter dread and unreal mental mess seemed like a fair deal and I accepted it.

It was amoxicillin now, one pill every 8 hours, medication that I took many times up to now without any serious side effects. It took it just 3 initial days to quite miraculously and completely erase all my chest symptoms, and barely one single day to make me seriously question if I would get a grip on my sanity ever again. That very evening several hours after taking the first pill I couldn’t think straight at all, my nerves were so tight and I was irritable beyond belief. Now I am somebody who suffers from anxiety all right, but irritability at every little thing is not in my nature at all. This was followed by daily waves of inexplicable depression – it’s not that I have many things to be happy about right now, but it’s certainly not that bad to cause utterly profound sadness and tears that were constantly pouring down my cheeks especially in the evenings. I’m not bipolar, so something was massively wrong, that much I could tell. I took out the paper with side effects to check if it was all once again “just in my head”, but there it was, under “rare but possible side effects” – irritability and depression! This could all be linked also to candidiasis developing in response to penicillin intake, but whatever the reason was, it was simply terribly overwhelming for somebody with already bad chronic condition like mine.

It’s been a bit more than an entire day since I swallowed the last hideous pill and I can already tell the difference. Placebo effect? Maybe, but in my opinion only to a certain point, because all intestinal disturbances, mouth inflammation, thin white layers on my teeth that couldn’t be washed away by any means – it’s just all getting better and vanishing.

I’m definitely much better now, but I do feel as though a train has run over me, once again. It seems that every time I make a step forward, there are always two steps backward as well. I fall time after time in many possible ways and I force myself to get up again. It’s very hard and extremely tiresome, but there is no other way. Antibiotic intake is a must when really needed, but in my case this help comes at a pretty high price because I become non-functional for days in a row. I just have to pray not to catch any other bacterial infection any time soon because I’ll go mad for sure and possibly start writing here about some totally incomprehensible things… 🙂

What’s your experience with antibiotics, PD or not? Hope much better than mine! 🙂

 

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