Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cymbalta Withdrawal is the B Word.

Wow. The things they do not tell you.

Take this, they say. It will improve your life! And maybe it does for a time before your body gets used to it and you end up with only the side effects and not the benefits. What then?

If you watch television at all, you've no doubt seen the commercials for Cymbalta, one of the wonder drugs of the 21st century. Their tag line: "Depression hurts." As does Fibromyalgia, one of the uses for Cymbalta. Quite honestly, I've dealt with depression over the years, so when I got clocked upside the head with Fibro it did cause some pretty depressed feelings. Chronic pain can drag you down no matter how Pollyanna you want to be.

Apparently, Cymbalta works with the central nervous system to reduce the pain of Fibromyalgia. My doctor and I decided to try it out. And soon I actually felt a difference, a lowered perception of pain at least. One thing about a person who hurts 24/7 is that they're willing to try most anything, (as I realized about myself during the "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" Fentanyl era) with little thought to the aftermath. Common to most of the people I attended Pain Management class with, I would like something to just take the pain away! But we don't always go in with enough information to be clear on what the medication might take away along with the pain. Sometimes we lose more than we gain--like the ability to feel life or deeply enjoy things--and the withdrawals can be a b****!

Today, for example, I see that people from Georgia, Virginia, Texas, and Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (I couldn't tell you where that last one is, let alone pronounce it) have visited my post on "FENTANYL: the Withdrawal Experiment."  How many of the people who've started out innocently and trustingly enough on a plan to reduce their pain levels have found they are now in the pit as they try to pull back out of the pain medication fog? And I'm by no means saying we didn't NEED the help or even benefit from the medication, but boy howdy, we need help getting off!

Common withdrawal symptoms from Cymbalta that I've read on message boards online etc:
  • headaches
  • intestinal upsets, bloating
  • brain zaps (electrical feeling/sounding jolts that go through your brain and body)
  • dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • "irritability"
And that's just to name the main few. I put irritability in quotes, because would you call Jack the Ripper "just a guy with poor social skills"?

What I personally experienced:
  • loss of words (it's taken me weeks to write this post)
  • PAIN and muscle fatigue
  • brain zaps
  • intestinal upsets
  • minor dizziness
  • Oh, really? You don't like what I made for dinner? WELL YOU CAN JUST BLEEPING BUY A NEW SLAVE!! *sob*
  • Um, "irritability."
I'm now 5 weeks off the Cymbalta. Still experiencing extra pain and muscle fatigue. Brain zaps are gone. I followed advice from Cymbalta withdrawal online boards (such as and depressionforums) to take extra Omega 3s and drink lots of chamomile tea, and within 3 days the brain zaps were over. The extra dizziness is gone. The words are coming back and I can actually string a few together now to make a complete sentence. The intestinal upsets resolved within the first 2 weeks.

While it has improved, I'm still working on the irritability. Has my true self merely come forward and I am really an impatient, screaming lunatic? I really really hope not. As does my family.

Picture of me withdrawing from Cymbalta.
No, not standing above, the one at the bottom.

Skimmer's Recap: Cymbalta withdrawals are not for the weak. Or for our families.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Isn’t he lovely?

Who knew, when that bouncing baby boy came to us before Christmas in 1988, he’d be with us 23 years later?

When we began as foster parents back then, we had no thoughts of keeping any children. But what do you do when 3 years later the child you've been loving and feeding is now free for adoption, and you can't imagine someone else coming to collect him and his things and driving away? Keep him, of course.

He has the sweetest most compassionate heart. He knows every movie ever made in the past 20 years, and every video game sold. I can't even imagine my life without him.

It just had to be said. (Especially since I took this really great photo of him after a wedding.)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy La-Z-Boy.

Lousy La-Z-Boy
Dear La-Z-Boy:

With dreams of reclining comfort, we set out to purchase couches from you. No more low-cost disposable couches from Levitz, no more build-it-yourself from Ikea, we were going to Do It Right and buy grown-up furniture. Wads of money in hand (since your product does not come cheap) we set out for your Pleasanton store.

After much sitting and reclining, we decided on a couch and loveseat so new they weren't even in stores yet. Their lines were clean and pleasing, and we were assured they were practically identical to a chair we tried in store. Looking forward to many long years of happy lounging, I special ordered a sturdy fabric of chocolatey-brown loveliness and waited excitedly.

We repainted and scrubbed and organized in anticipation, and finally, two months later, they arrived. And just 2 short months after that, the cushions were breaking down and the mechanisms squawked and swayed. The previously fluffy back cushions were flat and the fabric hung loosely, the seat cushions were flattening uncomfortably. Hopefully a one time "mistake" at the factory, perhaps workers who decided to start their weekend drinking early?

Many emails and phone calls and photos and a service call later, you agreed to replace our couches with a different model. Back to the store we went--the store, I might add, that decided they would no longer carry the Braxton model we had purchased, due to its low quality.

Torn between the desire to have the fabric color of my choice or having somewhere comfortable to sit sooner rather than later, we decided to pick something readily available in your warehouse. So only 3 months after delivery of our first couches, we were sitting pretty on some different caramel-colored goodness. And we all lived happily ever after, right?

Wrong. We've had these couches for less than a year, 7 brief months to be exact. One entire seat cushion has needed replacing. The cable pull that releases the foot rest where my hubby sits broke off. His end of the couch slopes to the back corner. The back cushion in the same seat has flattened more than the rest of them.

Service calls take anywhere from 1 to 2 months to happen, parts take another 2 weeks to the more likely 8 weeks to receive, and not till those parts are received do you set up a visit to do the repair.

I've welcomed a variety of La-Z-Boy service technicians into my home. They've all been lovely people, but I don't want to meet the entire staff of the La-Z-Boy service department. I just want my thousands of dollars worth of couches to do their job and last longer than their much less expensive Ikea counterparts.

Yesterday I sent photos of the end of the couch where I sit and the end of the couch where my husband sits, to show the obvious difference between them. Your technician's advice was that we should "rotate" where we sit and not always sit the same place. Perhaps if the product you've designed for seating cannot be used for sitting, you should rename it "magazine rest" or "decorative flat area."

My friend Linda tells me that she and her hubby have the best La-Z-Boy recliners ever. Now this is beginning to feel personal. Have we somehow offended the La-Z-Boy gods? Could I perhaps sacrifice a young chair and break the curse? If you can help me please let me know.

Beleaguered in the Bay Area,

Skimmer's recap: Having hoped that throwing large amounts of money at the La-Z-Boy gods was sacrifice enough to get a sturdy, working couch, julie begins to feel desperate. And don't even get her started on why she trusted someone who can't even spell "Lazy" correctly.