Saturday, 25 October 2014

New Medication

I mentioned in my last blog post that I am trying a new medication.  I am mainly taking it for anxiety but it can also be used for my pain.
Due to my new found occasional confidence, I was able to ask my psychiatrist about trying it.
I had asked my social worker, through email, if any of the people he sees take it.  He said yes and that they do find it helps them.  He also said they usually get it prescribed by their pain doctors. 
I am fortunate because my psychiatrist has been open to trying different medications, so it seemed like he might be open to me asking about this one.
I currently take three medications for my anxiety: Welbutrin, BusPar, and Valium.  The first two I take every day and the Valium I take as needed, which is sometimes every day for a while, it can also be twice a day at times, and then there are days where I don’t need it.  My anxiety is constantly there, medicated or not.  I have been on many different medications and nothing gets rid of the anxiety.  These three have been the best mix to date, but they are far from perfect.  Welbutrin of course has the worst side effect which is weight gain.  The other two seem to be not too bad, except for dry mouth with the Valium but that could also just be my anxiety!
I have generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, probable OCD, and anxiety related to my autism.  Anxiety is not part of autism, but it is quite often co-morbid.  In my case, it is due to my communication skills, issues with past interactions, sensory problems, generally not knowing what to do, and people just not understanding autism and therefore my needs.
Anyway, I talked to the psychiatrist about a few things that morning (pretty good for me!) and then I brought up the new medication that I wanted to try, one that I had been wondering about for quite a while.  That medication is something some people would never have expected me to ask for and I wouldn’t have except I know there are alternative ways of taking it and that it does seem to help many people.  

Enough of the suspense yet?!

Okay, I will tell you.  I asked him to prescribe me medical marijuana.  He finished writing my other prescriptions and then got up and got some papers.  He was actually doing it!  What I got was a referral to a compassion club (I didn’t know that and thought it was one of the clinics).  He filled out his part of the forms and then told me to fax them after adding my details.  I asked if he had other patients on it and was told yes.  I asked if it worked and if they were able to get off of their other medications.  Yes, it worked and some did get completely off of their medications while others decreased them.
Medical cannabis is legal but most doctors are nervous about prescribing it and so won’t.  They are also unsure of dosing etc.  There are clinics opening up who have doctors there to specifically prescribe and instruct on usage.
I wouldn’t take it illegally and I also don’t want to smoke or vapourize it.  I don’t want it in my lungs.  I have asthma and my mother died of lung cancer. 
With my paperwork faxed in, I figured I would get a prescription from them and could then order on-line from one of the suppliers on the Health Canada website.  Not quite.
I was contacted with an appointment date and time for an orientation.  I was also given multiple special instructions.  After thinking for a few days, I questioned them on the secretiveness of it and was told that the difference is that they are a dispensary and not a grower like the ones on the website.  Okay.
My friend said she would drive me because I am not comfortable driving in downtown Toronto.
I was very nervous because I could not take a support person in with me unless they are already a member.
I made myself go.  It was an experience!  I was asked to fill out paperwork, got a membership card, and verbally instructed on how the place worked.  I explained that I am autistic, so I asked the girl to walk me through everything.  I ended up buying some capsules that contained cannabis mixed with coconut oil to try. They are very low dose and I was told to take them on an empty stomach three times a day.  I also bought a few nighttime ones (stronger dose) without thinking (a good time where I could have used a support person).   I don’t need them for sleeping so I will probably try to split the dose in half and use it that way instead during the day. 
I took my first capsule when someone else was home because I wasn’t sure how I would react to it.  They take 1.5-2 hours to take effect and I was told to take another one if there isn’t any difference in 3-4 hours. 
I have noticed a difference.  It seems to gradually work.  My racing mind has slowed and I am more relaxed even if something bad happens.  They actually work!  I think I could do with a slightly higher dose or a different blend, especially since it didn’t do anything for my pain.  I have had no side effects.  It does not make me ‘high’, just more at peace.
During my trip to the gas station, car wash, and music lesson, I was calmer.  I didn’t have to use my fidget much during music.  We had to switch gas stations because the car wash was closed at the first one.  Not a big problem.  Normally that would be a disaster for me but I was okay just to get in the car and go somewhere else.  That is a pretty big thing for me.
Making dinner isn’t as stressful.  I usually have to make two or three slightly different meals and have them ready at the same time.  Normally, I get totally stressed out running around in circles and the nights I have had the medication, I flapped once where normally it would happen more or I would have minor SIB.  I also wasn’t all over the place physically and mentally.
I am glad the new medication works and when I get a steady supply, I want to try cutting down on my other ones.
I emailed my psychiatrist and asked him to refer me to one of the cannabis clinics in the city so I can get the prescription to do mail order. They should also know what sort of blend and maybe dose that will work best for me.  He has agreed to do that so I should hear soon. The compassion club will do mail order also but you have to have a prescription for them to do it.
The most recent exciting thing my new medication was able to help me do was drive to the Wretches and Jabberers presentation in Toronto and finally find the parking lot (not easy) at the university (click university for one of the confusing maps.  That was just the buildings not the parking!) without melting down.  Good thing because we were taking someone else with us!  I was also able to take that person up front to talk to one of people (Estee Klar of The Autism Acceptance Project) who helped bring the presentation up to Canada.  That is something I would never do, let alone actually speak to someone I have only typed with on Facebook!  I can’t even look at or speak to people I have seen many times.  Sometimes it takes me up to a few years before I can do that.
I would have to say that I will be continuing the medical cannabis and hopefully will completely get the anxiety and pain under control.  I will be able to get more when I go to Mount Sinai for my Ehlers Danlos Assessment in a week.

It says this is a calm face.  I will have to believe it because I don't know facial expressions!