So there I was, shortly after midnight Thursday, in the emergency room, eight or nine wires connecting my arms, legs and torso to an EKG machine so that the triage nurse could make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. I was pretty sure I wasn’t, but, you know … there was all this really expensive shit right there that could definitively say whether or not I was, so I figured I might as well go with it.
I wasn’t having a heart attack.
What I was having, however, was a lengthy, at times mild, at times not so mild, panic/anxiety attack — my first one ever! AWESOME!
I’m not quite sure what I was panicking about — zombies, probably — but whatever it was, it must have been bad, because it caused me to sleep rather poorly Tuesday night, and spend most of Wednesday feeling like the world was about to end, a sense of dread accompanied by the sensation that someone was trying to shove my heart and lungs up into my throat, which made it feel like my heart was racing and I couldn’t quite catch my breath, and my skin was tingling and I could basically feel my whole body pulsating with each heartbeat. And, yes, I know that all sounds sexy, but I assure you, it wasn’t.
When you are medication-free and you begin to take Wellbutrin, you can’t just start up at the regular maintenance dosage of 150mg twice per day, and I hadn’t. No, all those years in pharmaceutical school served me well as I used my pill cutter and guesstimated the right way to taper myself back up to the full dosage. Except, I never went to pharmaceutical school.
So, after taking a quarter of a dose for a couple days, and a half a dose for a couple days, and a three-fourths dose for a couple days, I shelved the pill cutter and started going with the whole enchilada on Monday. And two days later, here come the fucking zombies, and there I am, driving myself to the ER in the middle of the night.
But lemme back up a little bit.
Seeing as how I was exhausted from not sleeping well on Tuesday night, I hit the hay early Wednesday night and discovered I couldn’t get to sleep again; every time I started to drift off, I’d startle awake and get that little rush of adrenaline that makes your heart start racing, and then I’d lay there for a bit, and sweat a little, and start drifting off, and startle awake again, and after a couple of hours, I decided fuck that.
Like any fake pharmacist worth his salt, I had Googled “Wellbutrin side effects” earlier that day, and discovered that anxiety/panic attacks are among the things that can happen when you’re acclimating to the medicine. Also, you can’t go off it cold turkey, because that could fuck you up, too.
So it’s 11:30 Wednesday night, and I’m clearly having an ongoing, Wellbutrin-induced anxiety attack, and I’m supposed to take my next dose at 7 a.m. Thursday, but I’m afraid of further pushing myself into the bizzaro universe by taking what apparently is too strong a dosage, and I’m afraid to not take it, because then the zombies win.
“Honey,” I said as I gently stirred Wonder Woman. “I’m really sorry to do this, but I’m going to drive myself over to the emergency room so I can get this straightened out. I still don’t feel well, and I know it’s because of the medication. I’m not going to have any time to go to the doctor tomorrow, and I’m sure it’ll be empty over there right now, so I’m just going to go take care of it while I can.”
Obviously, she would have preferred to go with me, but we didn’t want to leave the kids home alone in bed again, like when we go out drinking, and I knew I could get myself there, so off I went.
After getting lost for a bit — which, by the way, really helped my anxiety level — I eventually found the hospital, parked and walked into the ER … which looked like mini-Woodstock. Apparently, hospitals are busy on St. Patrick’s Day, which I’ve now noted on my calendar, and you can be sure that when I have my next Wellbutrin-and-zombies-induced anxiety attack, it won’t be on the same night that everyone pretends they’re Irish and drinks themselves to the point of needing medical attention.
And I’d have given up and gone home, except I was still as amped up and jittery as a hummingbird on cocaine, so since sleep was out of the question anyway, I sucked it up and spent, no shit, FIVE HOURS waiting to see a doctor.
Finally, I explained the situation to the kindly doc (who I think was younger than me, and boy, is that weird), and once he finished giving me a psychological evaluation (I wisely neglected to mention the zombies), he agreed that the medication had caused the anxiety attack, prescribed me an anti-anxiety med to take the edge off, and also prescribed a lower dose of Wellbutrin.
I didn’t get back home till around 6 o’clock in the morning, and climbed into bed moments before Wonder Woman had to get up with the kids. (She earned the Scratches Family MVP Of The Week Award for letting me stay in bed while she took my place as chaperone on Zan’s field trip that morning, and I can’t tell you what a gift that was … for me, and for Zan’s entire class … because Sleep-Deprived Anxiety-Attack Man would have been SO not the person to put in charge of a bunch of 6- and 7-year-old kids that morning.)
I only got a couple hours of sleep, however, so, around 8 o’clock last night, I popped me one of my new Lorazepam tablets, climbed into bed and slept like dead people for about 10 hours. THANK GAWD.
Today, I still felt a bit out of whack, but mostly back to normal. I even believe I saw signs of the Wellbutrin working the way it’s supposed to — you know, by making me feel more even-keeled as opposed to making me feel like Zombie Armageddon is coming.