Ruling comorbidities, side effects, and stigma
Part of ruling my headache disorders is that I make sure not to run out of any medications. This is critically important when planning a trip out of town. The last thing I want is a trip to an emergency room in a strange town far away from my own doctor all because I forgot to pick up a $10 bottle of medicine. So Friday afternoon, I paid a final visit to the pharmacy to pick up the most vital medicine in my arsenal. It had been special ordered, arriving just in time.
Because I have comorbid fibromyalgia and arthritis, pain on some level is my constant companion. I receive cortisone injections to manage my knee pain and I never know when they will wear off. In a sick twist of fate, the most recent round wore off just a few days ago. I have an appointment for another injection next week. In the meantime, I limp around the house, use a cane when walking to and from the car or up and down stairs. Where available, I use store-provided electric shopping carts. My afternoon trip to the pharmacy was no exception.
Because my pharmacy is located inside a “big box” store, I was also able to do some last-minute shopping. As I maneuvered my way down the aisles, I remembered something I’ve heard other people say when they see someone like me using one of these carts.
“Maybe she wouldn’t need to use that cart if she would put down the cupcake, get up off her fat butt, and move for a change.”
You’ve probably heard something similar, too. The comment assumes that people who are overweight have only themselves to blame for the (assumed) consequences. But that’s rarely the way it happens. More often (as is my case), an injury or illness results in pain and limited mobility. In an effort to resolve the problem, a doctor prescribes one or more medications to reduce the severity and frequency of pain. I’m not talking about narcotics or opioids.
More often the culprits are medicines like Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (pregabalin), Cymbalta (duloxetine), or Savella (milnacipran). Every one of these medicines was created to help reduce the frequency and severity of musculokeletal and neuropathic pain (such as occurs in fibromyalgia). Every single one of them has some unpleasant side effects, the worst of which is excessive weight gain. To make matters worse, none of these medicines has a very good track record of actually preventing pain.
So, like so many people living with fibromyalgia, I take my medicine, gain weight, try to exercise, feel more pain, take more medicine…and all I have to show for it is ever-increasing readout on my scale.
“You’d feel better if you lost some of that weight.”
No kidding. Now why didn’t I think of that? What do you think I am trying to do? Friday was just a particularly bad day. Getting out of the house was a major challenge all by itself. I won’t apologize for doing what was best for me in that moment. I needed extra help so I used all my available tools, including the electric shopping cart at Target.
Ruling my headache disorders means ruling my comorbid conditions, too. Much to my dismay, the cost of doing this has packed on more pounds than I am comfortable divulging online. If I could special-order my next preventive, I would have only one request..
Give me any side effect EXCEPT for weight gain, please!