Now, I’ve written about some of my medication experiences before but, I swear, this one has the best story (at the expense of my poor family and boyfriend). Keppra is a common AED used to treat epilepsy, and I took it for almost 5 months for a while it was in conjunction with Topamax . It was the second try as far as meds go for me, and a horrible shitstorm of a fuck up.
So let’s start with the side effects according to drugs.com :
Common side effects of Keppra include : infection, psychoneurosis, drowsiness, weakness, nasopharyngitis, nervousness, headache, personality disorder, apathy, hyperkinesia, abnormal behavior, hostility, anxiety, depersonalization, depression, agitation, aggressive behavior, fatigue, laceration, irritability, mood changes, and emotional lability. Other side effects include:tonic-clonic seizure, dizziness, vertigo, pain, depressed mood, decreased neutrophils, and neck pain.
Let’s see, I had almost 70% of those.
- Drowsiness (always)
- Weakness(still weak, but damn, it was bad)
- Nervousness( to the max)
- Headache (almost every day)
- Agitation ( HOLY SHIT)
- Personality disorder (just ask my family how different I am now)
- Abnormal behavior (got SUPER political for no reason, I hate politics)
- Hostility (you couldn’t get me to answer yes or no to “would you like some?” without a complete interrogation of your character)
- Anxiety ( F*&!*%^*#$ S@!#^ A$#!)
- Depersonalization ( I had no sense of apathy for anything or anyone, everyone was an object and obstacle, including myself)
- Fatigue ( good god)
- Irritability ( you bet)
- Mood changes (split second decision changing and mood swings)
- Emotional liability (more like emotionless decisions that I regret)
- Dizziness (I walked slowly a lot)
- Depressed mood (yep)
And those are considered COMMON. WTF.
Looking back on all of this I can only think about was why the fuck was I on this for so long?
The mood changes, irritability, anxiety, depersonalization, hostility,and agitation really got to me. It took a couple weeks for it to really take effect. It started out as simply getting irritated when I couldn’t do something right or snapping at anyone who said something I considered “stupid” at the time. I brushed it off and didn’t give it a second thought. And I should have because it snowballed quickly. I was taking this over the holidays, so from thanksgiving up until march. I had just taken medical leave from school and was home in time for thanksgiving. I figured I would start going out with my boyfriend, partied a bit, saw a lot of people and when I got home I was a mess. I went from 0 to 60 as far as decision making goes. And bad decisions were made. First of all, you should not drink on Keppra, it can increase the side effects, and make your gastrointestinal system hate you and rebel in the worst ways you can imagine. Oh yeah, we’re going there.
I don’t know why I decided it was a good idea to drink and go out while taking this medication, so I’m going to chalk it up to Keppra made me do it. I love a good margarita, but I couldn’t put them down the entire holiday season. I’m sure most people are thinking “ditto”. But, sometime between Thanksgiving and Festivus I usually have a super bad hangover and just cut the drinking completely out of shame. But not this time, I kept it going.
*MOM AND DAD DON’T READ THIS PART*
The first victim was my boyfriend, almost every night I was staying with him I would be too sick and depressed to put out. Oh man, it was sad for the both of us, he’s a trooper. *round of applause*. I spent most of the night over the toilet puking or shitting myself (I told you we’re going there). And, when I went back to bed I would just lay there and watch Netflix while he slept. At one point, I just stopped trying. I put on a happy face in front of his friends, but we always had to leave any party early because my body had a time limit. It took me all of two hours in a room of people to feel like I was going to have a meltdown.
*OKAY IT’S SAFE*
My family truly suffered the most. After all, I was back home living with them. I was already bitter because I had to leave school, a good job, and my first place behind. I locked myself in my room most of the time. When I came out it was civil for all of two minutes. I could turn any conversation into an argument.
“Hey, how are you today?”
“(insert some horrible slur here)” I usually just made a face and walked away.
I considered everyone a nuisance, they were all in my way. Which is the complete opposite, they were trying to help. Especially with finding the right insurance. I needed my mother for that, at one point the insurance I was on wouldn’t approve a new drug for me (Topamax) which I was going to take in conjunction with the Keppra since it was helping to control the seizures I just needed a little extra boost according to my neuro at the time. Now talk about a shitshow.
I had started taking Topamax two months or so into being on Keppra. My neurologist had given me the generic pills and then switched me to the extended release version of it, which I got at first in sample form. He gave me about three weeks of it. Now, this is where shit really hit the fan. The insurance wouldn’t approve the fancy extended release and I snapped. My doctor kept filling out the insurance pre-approval request wrong, and I was running out of time, I would go into withdrawal and I couldn’t handle the generics. We decided, since we still had some time, to switch insurance. During this time, we also thought I had a kidney stone, which turned out to be an endometrial cyst. I couldn’t get approved for a CT scan to check, and it took forever to get an ultrasound. At one point I got so enraged it was to the point of crazy calm. You know when someone suddenly looks extremely relaxed in the middle of a panic attack before they’re about to do something stupid. That was me. My mother, who was trying so hard, but doesn’t handle panic well set me off. I sat at the table and told her that I was giving up. I could wait, the pain wasn’t that bad (it was) and that I didn’t want anyone’s help anymore. And thus began one of the biggest arguments we ever had. Somehow my sister got involved in this one too.
I’m not going into details on that conversation, but it was bad. We eventually resolved the issue and I got the Topamax which, for a little while, took the edge off of the Keppra rage. But, after a couple weeks, it was back.
I was sad, I would say stupid shit about politics and people’s appearance, and argue over nothing. It went on for three more months. At one point, I argued with my then gynecologist. I had a full on crazy attack in his office and forced him to give me the surgery I needed to get my endometriosis resolved along with everything else (read about that here).He scheduled it (out of fear), but I canceled because in the back of my mind I had a little demon telling me that he was evil and would do bad things while I was under anesthesia.Oh yeah, I was crazy. Side note, about a month after that I got a letter from his office saying that he was retiring. Thank god when I went to see a gynecologist I was familiar with I was having a decent day. I only cried and raised my voice a little. He did a great job.
At this point, about a month before I stopped taking it, I was doing something that was even crazier and stupid. I would purposely not take them when I didn’t feel like it. By that time, the depression was exacerbated by the Topamax and I was in so much pain along with my third flu, nothing mattered, not even my health. The ups and downs got worse, I and I lived in my bed.
Finally, my insurance was changed for the third time during all of this and I was approved for everything and I was getting my surgery. But, I had to change neurologists (I think this was for the best). Before my insurance changed officially, I saw my neurologist a couple more times. He took me off of the Keppra and just kept me on the Topamax for a few months.After that, and struggles with the insurance still, we decided to try Vimpat.
I was euphoric. The change was almost instant. A weight had lifted from my brain and I felt awesome. Still weirdly into politics a bit too much, but much better. No more nausea, rage and all of the above. I am now on a different one, but I will explain all of that in another post. This one has gotten too long.
Tell me one of your crazy stories from Keppra. I really want to know if anyone had similar issues. And if you did, I am sosososososososo sorry.
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