Bipolar Thoughts

Tolerances

I think I might have mentioned this in passing before, probably on my first post about ECT, but I have an abnormally high tolerance to medication.

The story starts a couple years ago when I began seeing my current psychiatrist. Before he started me on any drug therapy he wanted to run a genetic and DNA (I guess that is probably the same thing, eh? He also ran a full lipid panel) test so he could narrow down exactly what class of drugs would likely have the best results.

I went to the hospital the next day and got blood drawn and mouth swabbed and waited two weeks for the results. My shrink didn’t really go over the full extent of the test except to say that Lithium would not cause any of the side-effects it can sometimes take on regarding salt and iron and whatever else in the blood stream. He also told me that I would probably require high dosages of either anti-psychotics or SSRIs.

He showed me the results that were given to him (I believe a third party company does the test and puts together the results) and basically it was a graph with three colored bars, red, yellow, and green, and printed inside those bars were names of medications. Green is most likely to work, and down from there. There wasn’t any sort of rationale that I was privy to or told about. So I can’t really pass on any more information than that.

My doctor did tell me that my liver functioned at a high metabolic rate, and that most likely because of this, most of the medications I would normally be prescribed were off the table. He would have to give me such high dosages that it would be medically risky for my liver or kidneys.

Fast forward well over a year and I am laying in the out-patient surgery center (this is where they did the ECT, even though I was in-patient) on the recovery side feeling like I had just been hit with a bus and the worst headache of my life.

The doctor who performed the ECT walked by a few minutes later and asked me if I was aware of how tolerant to drugs I was. I told him that I usually had to take twice the recommended amount of Tylenol or Ibuprofen for a headache, but that I had never been put under before, never really hurt myself, or anything, so no.

He went on to relate to me that I pretty much had refused to go under and on top of that, the muscle relaxer they gave me did almost nothing. I flat out had a full on seizure, except I was asleep, thankfully. He told me that they had to call extra nurses over to pin me down to the bed for the few minutes I was convulsing. Fun times. So that explained the way I felt.

They continued to up the dosage of both the anesthetic and muscle relaxer, but every time I woke up the doctor was there telling me a similar story. On my last treatment he told me that everything went perfectly, clichéd timing if you ask me. He promised to write down the levels if I ever came back for more.

A big reason a lot of people go to ECT is because they are resistant to drug therapy. This was my case as well. From that very first session after the results came in he made me aware of the possibility of doing ECT since I had very limited choices in terms of medication.

It makes a lot of sense. The only real experiences I have had with medications have been negative because they either do nothing or are so strong they make me feel not like myself. It also makes sense that I have never really had success with medication. Even now, I cannot say with certainty that the lithium I am on is doing anything for me, besides ravaging my kidneys. But, I am on it and I am stable, so there is that.

I think it is great that we are at a point that we can genetically test which medications will be properly metabolized to at least give doctors a place to start. We know so frustratingly little about these medications and diseases it is nice to see something scientific come along.