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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Meds... again

After about 3 weeks of playing phone tag, I finally talked to my neurologist today. I had told him that I had a seizure a few weeks ago, and today I told him that I had another on Friday and about the side effects that I've been experiencing. So after looking at all of that, we decided it's time to try another medicine.

Last year around this time, I switched off of my long-time medicine - Tegretol. After coming off of Tegretol for the first time in over 20 years, I noticed a HUGE difference in myself. A good difference. But now that I've been on the Keppra for a while, I'm noticing more differences... not so good differences. Anxiety, aggressiveness, depression, even borderline bi-polar at times.

This time last year, my neurologist gave me a choice of 2 medicines to try - Keppra or Lamictal. I chose Keppra for a two main reasons: The switch from Tegretol to Lamictal is extremely tough because of interactions between the two, and the side effect of the Keppra seemed to be less severe than those of Lamictal. However, after experiencing the side effects of Keppra, and talking to people about both, it seems that the side effects of Lamictal may be more severe, but they're also not as common. So I'm hoping for little or no side effects on the Lamictal, but who knows.

As I said last year, switching meds is ALWAYS scary. I haven't had a tonic clonic (Grand Mal) seizure in 8 years, but when I switch meds it could happen, and that's always scary.

So here's the process - 6 weeks to get onto the Lamictal. 2 weeks at 25mg, 2 weeks at 50mg, and 2 weeks at 100mg. Then blood work to see where my levels are, and a trip to the doc to talk about those levels and any possible side effects, etc. Assuming the levels are good, we then start the 8 week journey to come off of the Keppra. 
ASIDE - I've decided that I'm taking myself back down to 2,000mg of Keppra right now. We increased to 2,500 a while back with no positive results, so I feel like I can safely go back to 2,000 with no increase in seizures and a possible decrease in side effects. I didn't talk to my doc about this, but I don't think I need to. It's a no brainer decision. 
AND WE'RE BACK - The Keppra will come down in 500mg sections. 2 weeks at 1,500, 2 weeks at 1,000, 2 weeks at 500, then after 2 weeks of being off of it, it should be completely out of my system.

As you can see from the previous paragraph, the difference in dosage of the 2 meds is astounding. I will be maxing out at 100mg of Lamictal, and you can't even get a pill of Keppra for less than 250mg.

As I imagined when I heard this difference, the size of the pills is night and day too. The Keppra are like horse pills, which are sometimes hard to swallow. The Lamictal are smaller than a breath mint. If I drop a Lamictal it will be hard to find because it's so small. With the Keppra I could fit 4x 1,000mg pills in my pocket pill container - less than 2 days supply after my increase. With the Lamictal I could literally put my entire prescription in my pocket container.

So that's the news. It's going to be a long haul, but in about 4 months I'll be completely off of Keppra and on Lamictal.

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