Known Johnson

November 2, 2005

Better living through self-medication

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:05 pm

Here in Arizona, the weather is quickly turning comfortable again after another long, hot summer. Unlike most other places, we don’t really descend into the depths of winter. Rather, most of the state skims along the surface of winter, feeling the slightest nip of the chill that freezes much of the rest of the northern hemisphere. As for fall, well, maybe it exists in the higher elevations like Flagstaff and Sedona, but as for the rest of the state, it’s really a second spring that we see. And that’s kind of nice – some plants bloom again and, as stated before, the weather is nice enough that you actually don’t dread being outdoors in the afternoon. Unfortunately, however, being spring-redux, a bunch of crap fills the air, which I then breathe in, which gets into my sinuses, sits there, and makes a mess of everything.

So for two weeks I’ve been suffering with a splitting headache. Two weeks of a sinus-related headache, with the related pressure and general unpleasantness that goes with it. I’ve tried everything I can think of – whatever is over-the-counter, I’ve given it a shot. Last week I gave in and went to the doctor, who, it turns out, was completely perplexed by what I was suffering from. It turns out I don’t have a sinus infection, at least from the looks of things. I can breathe, see, and breathing through your nose is one of those things that just plain stops when you’ve got sinus issues. In that professional, doctorial way they have about things, she just threw her proverbial hands in the air and handed me some Zyrtec. Give it a try, she said, and come back if nothing happens.

So I gave it a try . . . and I felt miserable. First dose, that same day, about two hours after taking the Zyrtec and while sitting at my desk at work, I felt like someone had killed my pets. I took an incredibly steep nosedive into depression and drowsiness. Depression may not be listed as a known side-effect by the manufacturer, but Google “depression zyrtec” and you’ll find numerous entries all over the internet stating this hidden side-effect. And then I didn’t really sleep that night – I just tossed and turned, hovering in that semi-asleep state where you’re painfully aware of everything going on around you. The next day, I woke up at my usual 5:30 am, and groggy and unawares as I was, I took another dose – figuring, in my half-zonked state, that the only way to know if this stuff would do anything was to keep taking it, because surely one dose could not be enough to really work.

And so work on Friday was a hazy, muddled mess. I steered clear of the Zyrtec over the weekend, preferring instead to let nature take its course for a couple days. Suffering at home is nowhere near as unpleasant as suffering at work. When Monday rolled around, I figured I need to give it another shot – and I did. Hours later I was drowsy and befuddled, completely miserable – no surprise. That, I decided, was Zyrtec’s last shot.

And then last night I decided to give something else a shot – something I had figured was too wimpy to take on this nastiness. Over the summer, faithful unproductivity readers may recall, I was given a prescription for a high dosage of ibuprofen (you know, the stuff in Advil, Motrin, etc.) I had a half-bottle of my second prescription left and decided, hey, what’s the harm in giving this a shot? It certainly couldn’t be any worse than the friggin’ Zyrtec.

Dose 1 – taken when I got home: I felt a little better, but then I typically have felt better at night. Dose 2 – this morning with breakfast: I actually do feel better. Not perfect – the headache is definitely still there, but it’s muted and easier to ignore. Dose 3 just went in my mouth with lunch – this high-dosage (800mg per pill, max three times a day) ibuprofen is pretty hard on your stomach (and liver if you go over 2400mg a day.) So far, so good.

It’ll never be a street drug (“hey man, you got some ibues?) that’s for sure, but for whatever this headache is, it might actually be doing the trick.

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