Tag Archives: Sinemet

The Medical Sideshow

42734194_sAll too often, there’s a sideshow to chronic illness: our treatment regimen! Let’s take my pills. They’re small, white (or yellow) and round. They “control” (I didn’t say “cure”) my Dystonia but wreck havoc with my body. My meds require me to walk a medical tightrope juggling multiple balls in the air, engaging in a precarious – but common – balancing act.

My neurologist and I make all sorts of adjustments. We go down on one culprit with particularly distasteful repercussions until my walking worsens. Then it’s time to regroup. We add meds to address side effects, which in turn make their own statements. Understand, I’m an impatient person who rarely acts incrementally. I embrace BIG CHANGE. Not with my pills. The process of going up and down, not to mention trying new meds, is E-X-C-R-U-C-I-A-T-I-N-G-L-Y  S-L-O-W. But I appreciate the need to drive with caution and intermittently engage the brake.

The “games” never end. I had to discontinue a long-standing drug that caused my blood count to plummet dangerously. Another regular exerts undue influence on my blood labs, rendering them confounding to everyone except my neuro. Then there’s the trial and error of “new” treatments. During a clinical study, I became convinced a med was making my Dystonia worse and hightailed my way off that highway. I speak from experience when I say serious drugs merit serious vigilance.

I reap the benefits of a highly knowledgeable and careful neurologist. However, responsible health care doesn’t end with a trustworthy physician. As patients, we’re the ultimate arbiters of the substances we ingest and interjecting a healthy dose of caution is prudent. Do the research, investigate your options, read the fine print, ask probing questions, and trust your instincts when it comes to side effects – after all, you know your body best.

With World Health celebrated throughout spring and summer, the American Recall Center has embarked on a campaign to promote medication safety (check out their tips below). The American Recall Center website is an invaluable resource for prescription drug and medical device recall information and other healthcare topics advancing informed medical decisions.



Introducing My Meds

Medications “treating” Dystonia are like mediocre relationships – we make do notwithstanding their pitfalls because there’s nothing better waiting on the horizon. Admittedly, we tend to engage in a bit of a juggling act, no one pill supplying everything we need. Similar to Romeo and Juliet, we lack the official seal of approval and must carry on our affaires de coeur “off label.”

My main squeeze is Trihexyphenidyl, a mouthful. He’s famously known as Artane but you can call him Art. Think of him as the steadying influence in my life. His ethnicity is anticholinergic. No, he’s not from Anticholinergia but harkens from the same family as your friendly allergy meds, blocking the work of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that seems to have a hand in screwing up my muscles. Just as women haven’t figured out men, no one knows why Art’s so effective. Believe me, not every Dystonia patient falls under his spell. Our relationship is fraught with issues – all his doing – but I’m not giving up on him until someone better comes along.

Sinemet is an old flame I keep around for kicks (or avoidance thereof). Our chemistry’s rather simple: he introduces a pop of levodopa to help me synthesize dopamine, a sine qua non for treating Parkinson’s – on loan to little sister and no one’s miracle cure. The underlying secret to our success remains a mystery (neurotransmitter balance perhaps) but why fiddle with a good thing?

Finally, meet Zonegran (“Z”). His politics include anti seizure, which is an interesting perspective on the machinations of my muscles. Z is a relative newcomer to my stable of suitors. He replaced a childhood sweetheart in my mad-capped game of Spin The Bottle and I never paused to consider whether I needed anyone new in my life.

This medical “three-way” adds a crazy sideshow to my three-ring circus. Like all Dystonia therapies, they wax far from ideal, but they’re the ones I love to hate and hate to love!