Beware the duloxetine withdrawal

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For years, I’ve struggled with neuropathic pain. The pins and needles feeling made me feel like my whole body was on fire. Initially, I was started on Lyrica, but it didn’t seem to do much for me. Then they tried to put me on Neurontin, but that made me feel like I was one of the walkers from TWD. I guess it worked because I was so out of it I either forgot about the pain or just didn’t care.

This last year or so, I’ve been taking duloxetine (Cymbalta) to manage my neuropathic pain. At the lowest dose, most of my neuropathic pain seemed to be controlled while not experiencing any side effects. They’ve tried to up me to 60 mg but then I started suffering from insomnia, which only made my pain worse. So I dropped down to 30 mg, favoring partial relief and the ability to sleep (even though that sleep isn’t restorative at least it is some rest).

Unfortunately, there is a big problem that comes with taking duloxetine and that is the withdrawal. If you’re wondering about my absence as of late, it is because I have been in the process of moving across the country to California. My husband got a job in Silicon Valley, and it was an offer we couldn’t pass up.Of course, moving, even with a great relocation package is a stressful and time-consuming endeavor hence the radio silence.

The move means many things regarding my fibromyalgia, many bad and many good. The biggest issue right now is that my prescription of duloxetine has run out, and I don’t yet have a new doctor. The withdrawal symptoms started the very next day around supper time. It was small at first, actually rather tolerable, but then I woke up this morning, and it is only steadily getting worse.

So what does it feel like to withdrawal from duloxetine? Well for me, it means having brain zaps. Imagine the sensation you feel when you get shocked but coming from the inside of your body and multiplied by a thousand (maybe more). What’s worse is that these “zaps” happen anytime I close my eyes, change where I am looking, turn my head, take a step, or move.

The first time it happened I was downright terrified. I had no idea what was going on. I thought I might fall over at any second. Doing a Google search, let me know that I wasn’t alone and that it was a common symptom of missing a dose of duloxetine and other similar medicines. A little less comforting is reading that some people have continued to experience this sensation for as long as a year after stopping their medications. So as is most often the case with fibromyalgia life, I am faced with not knowing: how long will these symptoms last? Will they get worse? Is going back on this medication worth it, knowing that if they take me off, I will have to go through this again?

I guess the one positive to come from this is that I was forced to look for a doctor. If you have fibromyalgia or know someone with the condition, then you probably know the words positive and finding a new doctor don’t usually go together (that’s a topic for another day). I was able to get an appointment for Tuesday. All I can do now is wait and hope that it goes away or, at least, doesn’t get better. Well, that and put on a brave face and push through this just like fibro warriors always do.

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