Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chantix - Part 3

This is the last part of my "Quit Smoking and Stay Sane Journal." Sorry, it's a little long, but I don't want to deal with it again. I'm sick of the whole situation!

March 10, 2008

I reduced the Chantix further taking it every other day, and at this point, I haven’t taken any in four days. Right now, though, I would sell my soul for a Winston. That insane desire will pass in a few minutes. At least, it has until now. I don’t have physical symptoms of withdrawal; it’s all in my head, but, dammit, I want a cigarette! Whenever the depression deepens or Mr. Fixit is driving me nuts, the need for a “fix” hits. Today, I think it may have something to do with this crappy daylight savings time. My sleep patterns will be disturbed for a few months. Something else to look forward to. Oooh, aren’t I a little ray of sunshine this morning?

Right now I’m sitting here with tears flowing down my face with no earthly idea why. Mr. Fixit isn’t home; he’s helping our older son. I wish he were here even though he was driving me to distraction this morning just by being on the same planet with me. I could call him and ask him to come home, but that would make me feel worse. I detest being so wimpy and dependent. Besides, how could I explain to him why I’m feeling so low when I can’t explain it to myself?

I just want this crap to be over! I want to be just my usual weird self that I was before but without the smoking.

March 11, 2008

Yesterday afternoon I saw a television advertisement for the law firm of Shyster, Shyster, and Crook targeting people who have had problems with Chantix. Strangely, it made me feel a bit better. If someone is trying to get a class action lawsuit organized, then maybe I’m not completely nuts. There is a problem with this product for some people. Will I make that call to Shyster, et al? Not on your life. I made the choice after I recognized the side effects to continue taking the product. By the same token, if I continued smoking and developed lung cancer, I wouldn’t sue the cigarette manufacturer either. Even though the danger of tobacco wasn’t publicized when I started smoking, I soon learned the dangers involved and CHOSE to continue this dangerous behavior.

March 12, 2008

I think the effects of this product are wearing off, not the bad ones, the one good one. I really wanted a cigarette this morning. I am really going to be p.o.’ed if I have suffered all these uncomfortable side effects (and spent mega bucks) and I won’t have the willpower to overcome the habit with no assistance from the drug. My daughter-in-law, who once smoked but stopped before the birth of Cole, once said sometimes in times of stress she still craves tobacco.

We kept Bella and Levi last night while Ben and Dena attended an awards program with Cole. The children were watching a movie when Ben, Dena, and Cole came in. Mr. Fixit, in charge of the remotes, was talking to Ben. The movie came to a very loud car crash sequence (The movie was “Cars”). I said to Mr. Fixit, “Turn it down!” He ignored me. I felt like spikes were being driven into my skull. I repeated a little louder, “Turn It Down!” Again I was ignored. “TURN IT DOWN!” I yelled. Mr. Fixit finally got the point and turned it down. Ben and Dena must have thought I was nuts screaming like a banshee and covering my ears. I still haven’t told them of the problems I’ve been having.

March 14, 2008

My scheduled doctor’s appointment was this morning. The good news is things are status quo. I was afraid that the numbers would be bad since I haven’t been watching my diet and eating out too often. I have been too tired to fix the things at home I should be eating, and eating out is very convenient when one feels like crap.

I outlined the problems I have with the Chantix. When the doctor said it might be necessary to use some sort of medication to combat this depression and rage (to a lesser extent), I told him I would rather not go that route. It was a medication that put me in this position. He agreed somewhat, but said that counseling might be necessary. He made an appointment for me in two weeks to see if the depression has abated. I just want it over and done with!

Now it’s time for me to post my experience with Chantix to my blog. I can’t prove that Chantix is responsible for all my problems. It could be, as I told the doctor, that I am just loony. I think the sleep deprivation and the vivid dreaming may be the cause of the depression, not the drug itself.

A little advice to anyone who is considering taking Chantix:

Be prepared for the interruption of sleep
Nausea will occur unless you only take the tablets on a full stomach.
Be prepared for the vivid dreaming
Be prepared for depression and rage.
Lack of focus and concentration is very disconcerting.
Be ready for the cost. When I began taking the prescription, I paid $128.00 for 28 days’ supply. It went up to $133.00 in the short time I was taking it. Most insurance doesn’t help pay for it.
Most importantly, be ready for some awful thoughts to enter your mind.
Do a little research before making the decision to try it.

The bottom line is that Chantix has helped me stop smoking. Millions of people have used this product with only mild side effects. Only a small percentage have had major problems. Has it been worth the problems? I don’t know at this point; time will tell.

Today (March 16)

I have a raging desire again for a Winston. Damn, Damn, Double Damn! I won't give in, I won't give in.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chantix - Part 2

This little post was written a day or so after I informed Mr. Fixit of the problems I was having; I neglected to date it.

A Little Humor Helps

Tonight at dinner Mr. Fixit said he was going over to help Ben at the trailer park. He said, “I have a very important question to ask you. Do you get ‘stressed’ when you are alone?”

I said, “No. Well, unless I lose the packet of chili seasoning.”

January 20, 2008

During the past two weeks I have continued the Chantix. Some of the side effects have abated somewhat but have not completely disappeared. The vivid, realistic dreams continue, but I don’t wake up in a rage. I’m handling the depression; it’s still there, but it’s not as bad as it was. Maybe it’s because I know what’s causing it. I still have trouble focusing. I can’t settle down to any one thing. I have new projects to start and old ones to finish, but I can’t seem to get myself together. The sensitivity to loud, shrill noises isn’t as bad. Yesterday was Noah’s birthday party. The squealing of kids having fun was painful, but I just stepped out of the room for a while. As long as they were just loud and not squealing, I was okay. I still feel completely exhausted most of the time.

Now I’m beginning to worry about something else. This drug causes the brain to allow you the same feeling as smoking a cigarette. What happens when I stop the drug? Will I have the same withdrawal systems that occur when nicotine is stopped? Hmmm, it might be better to try the cold turkey method and have the withdrawal without the dreams, depression, and lack of focus. No, I would still have the depression and the lack of focus I’m sure.

The bottom line is—It’s true that it harder to kick the nicotine habit than it is kicking heroin (not that I have first hand experience with heroin).

February 10, 2008

Almost a month has passed since my last entry. I’m still having vivid dreams, and the depression has become my constant companion. I seem to be better at keeping my temper in check. I haven’t posted to my blog for a while. It seems I can’t put two coherent thoughts together.

I am going to take this stuff one more month and then try tapering off. I have an appointment with the doctor the middle of next month. I plan to tell him all the problems I’ve had so he will warn other people before prescribing this no-smoking aid.

On the up-side, I haven’t had a cigarette in two months. I have no physical cravings, but when I’m really feeling “blue” or stressed, all I can think about is smoking.

February 25, 2008

Yesterday I decided to begin weaning myself from the Chantix. I took only one tablet yesterday instead of two. I took it in the middle of the day. I was a bit worried that I would be having problems this morning, but again I waited until lunchtime to take it. I was not going crazy for a cigarette. The best part was a few more hours than usual of uninterrupted sleep. I turned off the light about 1:30 am. I only had to get up one time, and I fell asleep immediately upon returning to bed. I slept until 7:00 am. Only a mildly disturbing dream. Usually I turn out the light any time between midnight and 1:30 am. I sleep for a couple of hours, wake up, and stay awake until 6:00 or 6:30 am. I go back to sleep for an hour or so. That’s not enough sleep for me to be productive and to be a normal, rational person. I hope this works out.

My goals are to remain a non-smoker, to rid myself of this constant “melancholia,” to stop these dreams

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chantix - Was It Worth It?

For the last few months my posts have been few and far between. Ben, Jason, I haven’t told you what has been going on; I didn’t want you worry and it's very embarrassing for me. Don’t get upset; I think there is hope for your goofy mother.

I have been keeping a journal about my experience so that maybe I can at least let people know what CAN happen, not what WILL happen, if they think they may try taking Chantix to stop smoking.

Note: My grammar, syntax, and punctuation are a little sloppy; you’ll see why. I have only edited the most egregious errors. I won't post the whole journal at one time; it's very long.

So Here We Go!

I am writing this January 7, 2008. I don’t plan to post it for some months yet because I don’t want the children to know what is happening to me.

Three months ago Mr. Fixit told me to ask the doctor for Chantix, a stop-smoking aid. I was furious because I knew who had told him about this product. I didn’t like the idea of his discussing my shortcomings with this person. I asked the doctor for the prescription and began the regimen several days later. I didn’t tell Mr. Fixit that I had begun using the product. I didn’t want to admit my failure to him or for him to think badly of me in case the stuff didn’t help.

I have been smoking since I was 17 years old; I am now 62. I love smoking. I love the taste and the ritual of smoking. I love the little “AAH!” moment when you take that first puff. I don’t like the smell, the chance of lung cancer, the cough, and the cost. I have tried several times to quit without success. I have tried cold turkey a number of times. I tried the patches. I tried another medication. The medication worked the best, and I didn’t smoke for quite a while. When my older brother died, I began smoking again. It’s true that I didn’t resume smoking as much as I did at one time, but it was still too much.

When the doctor gave me the prescription for Chantix, he didn’t mention any side effects, but I read the insert that came with the product. They seemed innocuous enough; nothing I couldn’t handle--at least I thought so.

The first week my sleep was affected, but I always have trouble sleeping. I didn’t recognize any other things that seemed alarming. I noticed that my melancholia had returned, but I associated this with the coming Christmas season. I always get a little blue around the holidays. The second week the dosage is doubled. This is when the abnormal dreaming began. The dreams were extremely vivid. I remember every single thing that happened in them. They seem to last for a long time. I read somewhere once that the average dream lasts about 30 seconds no matter how long it seems to go on. These dreams would last for hours. I would wake up several times during the dream, go back to sleep, and it would continue like a movie. The first one that concerned me a little was when I had a dream about my DIL. It was absolutely nuts! She would never do what she did in the dream. I was so angry with her. Even when I woke up and realized that it was a dream a little of the anger remained. Then a couple of nights later I had a dream featuring Mr. Fixit. I woke up livid! When I went down for breakfast I told him I was mad at him because of something that he did in my dream. I wasn’t joking, but I guess he didn’t realize that. I continued taking the drug for two months.

My depression seemed to be getting worse, but I didn’t associate this with the Chantix. I have always had a little problem with depression, but not enough to talk to anyone about it. In fact, I have reached the point where I can talk myself out of it. It never lasts for more than a few days. This time it lasted much too long. It seemed that I stayed miffed at someone or sad all the time. Mr. Fixit was driving me crazy even though he was doing nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just that everything he did aggravated me. He never knew what I was feeling. It was taking everything I had to hold it together.

The strange thing is that I had to stop taking the tablets after the second month because it is very expensive ($128 a month) and I had Christmas to think about. So I skipped a month. My sleep improved. My dreams returned to normal, but the depression clung to me like a cold, wet sheet. It was during that time that I had a major tantrum. I mentioned it in my post of December 21, 2007. I didn’t tell the whole truth in that post or tell Mr. Fixit the extent of my tantrum. I wasn’t just crying because of the frustration. I was in a rage!

After my Christmas shopping was done, I had the prescription refilled and started taking it. My mistake may have been that I continued taking the same dosage as I was taking when I stopped the taking it instead of asking the doctor for a new prescription to begin a whole new regimen. A few days into the week, my depression and anger blossomed. Something new was added. I was suddenly affected by loud, shrill noises. Mr. Fixit sneezed and I felt like the top of my head exploded. The microwave was on so I raised the volume on the tv. When the oven shut off, there was a shrill commercial on that made me feel as if someone was pounding nails into my skull. My knees actually buckled. Thank goodness, it passed in only a moment.

This past Saturday I was exhausted even though I had done absolutely nothing all day. I spent most of my time lying on the couch. I went to bed at 9:15 pm. and was asleep by 9:30; at least that’s when I turned out the light. I awoke at 10:30 after the vivid dreaming recurred. I went back to sleep. More dreaming; in fact, it felt like it was constant. One time I woke up and the thought crossed my mind that I didn’t want to live anymore. I was even considering what there was in the house to do the job. It was only a momentary thought, but it scared the crap out of me. I have never had serious thoughts of that sort before. It began to dawn on me that perhaps it was the Chantrix since the dreams had returned. I fell asleep again only to begin a dream featuring our star of the evening, Mr. Fixit. I can remember every detail, every color, every emotion. When I woke I was literally trembling with rage! These two things made me realize that something was horribly wrong.

Yesterday I spent most of the day on line researching this drug. I found that most people have no problems with it at all and it helps them to stop smoking. However, I found several sites and many people who recounted having the same problems that I was having. Most of them cited side effects that were much worse than mine. One person said that she would rather die of lung cancer than to go through the problems she had developed after taking Chantix. As I thought about it I realized that I had experienced the following problems:

Sleep deprivation
Abnormal dreaming
Self-destructive thoughts (I can’t even use the correct term)
Inability to focus
Muddled thinking
Intolerance of loud noises

Of course, I can’t say that all these things were caused by the Chantix, but a lot of people have been experiencing the same things--people like me who have never had a problem with depression or who have never had self-destructive thoughts. No one else mentioned the intolerance of loud noise, but some mentioned physical problems that I have not encountered. Those affected the worst seemed to be people who have been treated for depression before.

The most disheartening thing I learned was some of the side affects can last a long time; they don’t stop when you stop taking the drug. Another disturbing thing I found was that there have been at least two suicides by people who were perfectly normal until they started taking Chantix. The FDA has received 5,000 complaints, but it has failed to do anything. I guess 5,000 complaints out of the millions of people taking this drug is a very small percentage.

After discovering all downsides to the drug I was undecided what to do. I don’t want to die of lung cancer, and this drug does help me in my quest to become a non-smoker. I feel now that I know the reasons for my problems I will be able to control the depression and the rage. At least I know what is causing it. I can’t control the physical things, but I feel that I can adjust to a little more forgetfulness and the outrageous dreams. Mr. Fixit may have to adjust to my lack of focus and exhaustion.

One thing I knew for sure was that I had to tell Mr. Fixit what was happening. I was afraid that he might send me to mental health facility that features a whole new wardrobe for me that features lots of buckles on my jackets. When he came home I tried to explain. He said that I should stop taking it. I explained why felt I would be able to continue taking it so he agreed as long as things don’t get worse.

Last night I took the evening dose earlier than I usually do as was suggested by one of the forum participants. The dreams didn’t begin until 4:30 am. I slept for six hours without disturbance. I feel much better today. Maybe my body is acclimating to the drug and things will be better. I hope so. As I said, Chantix works as far as the primary reason for taking it. I just wonder if it’s worth it.