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08 August 2007

my spelling has gone to the dogs

I pride myself on my keen eye for language, my editor's knack for spotting grammatical and punctuation errors in the blink of an eye. Terrible spelling quite literally makes my stomach turn at times, and when people don't know how to make things plural or possessive (or, god forbid, plural-possessive!), I am simply beside myself.

Something else I have always been known for? My memory. It is definitely one of my strengths. I can remember words, faces, places, times, and events quite well.

But all this changed without my quite realizing it. All this changed in the last year or so, the year during which I took Zonegran. I'm still taking it but am finally to the point where I've decided to go off (with my doctor's help, of course, as weaning oneself off any drug like that is not a task to undertake alone!).

"Difficulty word-finding, problems with short-term memory," and "weight loss" were listed as side effects of Zonegran that might effect some but would go away within the first 6 weeks or so. For me, I wasn't terribly effected in the first several weeks. I joked about it at first and wasn't sure if the verbal stumbling I experienced now and again had been worsened by the drug. Not even in the first couple of months did I notice much. Who knows? Maybe there wasn't much to notice at first. For a side effect as elusive as "difficulty word-finding," it's not easy to pinpoint where the problem begins and ends. All I can tell you is that several months ago (which was several months after being on Zonegran), I was talking with my boyfriend and found myself increasingly frustrated with my inability to come up with the simple word I was looking for. That frustration led me to think back to other moments in my recent past when I'd not been able to come up with the words I'd been looking for, when I'd not been as clear in my writing or speech as the Old Me.

When I type, letters come together on the screen to form words I've known how to spell for decades. But suddenly I don't know how to spell things I mastered in third grade. "Is it 'i before e except after c'? Okay, yeah. That looks right." I write letters and find myself scratching out words time and time again, having to rewrite them until I get the spelling right. This is not like Regular Me, Old Me. (The end of that sentence back there? I wrote "write" at first instead of "right." For a perfectionist like me, that's not a mistake I'd make frequently, yet these days I do it daily.)

I could go on and on. I can't vividly recall conversations I've had as I used to, I can't remember how I know someone whose face is ever-so-familiar. A couple months ago, I spent lots of time with one of my best friends who lives in Europe. I expressed my reservations about my brain, about how dumb I've been feeling lately, about how I hoped it was the drug I was on and not me that was screwing with my thoughts and spelling and writing and speech. She revealed to me that she'd noticed a marked change over the course of the last several months. (She saw me when I first got on Zonegran a year prior to this conversation, then again once every few months.) She said if she'd never met me before I'd still come across as smart, but that having known me before and now, I certainly don't come across as intelligent-sounding in my writing and speech.

That really hit home.

I know there are other factors that could be (and probably are) influencing my brain right now. I'm not taking any classes, but that doesn't explain this. I did a more extensive search online for Zonegran and more of its *real* side effects (i.e., what patients say and not necessarily what comes across in clinical trials) and found MANY people who had to quit taking it due to memory loss, inability to spell and write, etc.

I won't even get into the weight it's caused me to lose.

So now I shall deal with having to go off of the meds. I don't know where I'll go from here. I don't want to go on more preventive daily medication, but the frequency of my Migraine headaches may call for it. I'm so tired of looking for The Answer. An Answer. I wish it would just go away.

Headache #5 of the month rollin' on in,
The Migraine Girl

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL. I HAVE BEEN ON ZONEGRAN FOR ABOUT A YEAR. 100MG AT NITE. I AM A NURSE, AND FEEL LIKE MY MEMORY IS GONE TOO. I HAVE TERRIBLE MIGRAINES, SO MY NEURO PUT ME ON ZONEGRAN FOR PREVENTATIVE. I AM PRESENTLY WEEING OFF OF THE MEDICATION MYSELF DUE TO THE SIDE EFFECTS. THEY ARE OUT WEIGHING THE HEADACHES. I JUST NEED A BREAK, BUT COMING OFF THE MED. IS NOT EASY. I GUESS I JUST HAVE TO HANG IN THERE AND IT WILL PASS.. GOOD LUCK, AND I PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU WITH THE SAME PROBLEMS.

R Hoskins said...

omg- this is how i've been feeling for a LONG time now. i have migraines, but i don't take this zonegran. so... i don't know why this is happening to me. but, i am the same way about spelling, etc... i just cringe at the thought of misspelling. but i've been doing it nonstop lately. i'm really worried- i wish i could get in to a neurologist...

Garry Freemyer said...

I too have had this experience. I had migraines since as far as I can remember. I was a great perfect speller, till I suffered a significant head injury at age 11 when I slipped on a wet sidewalk. Before this fall, I would simply call up a clear picture of the word and spell it off. I was not bothered at all by the exceptions or the rules, it was no effort at all to remember. Suddenly, blurry or wrong words would come up instead of correct info. Was that word which,witch or what?

Trying to remember my own name or the current year was sheer humiliation for awhile. I almost ended up committing suicide until I discovered aspects of my memory that were intact.

I suffered a lot of abusive comments from the grammar nazis. I would be left literally shaking with rage. These people do not understand as you might understand after your experience. When memory abandons it does not ask permission.

Spelling will never be my forte. I'm 55 years old and I've given up hope, but I still try. Sometimes trying to weed out errors feels like trying to sweep the grains of sand out of a shag rug that's been washed up at the beach.

Although I never took Zonegran I have found a way to end my migraines. The moment I would get the aura and blind spots prior to an attack, I shut down and use deep relaxation to abort migraines. Deep relaxation causes changes that prevent the progression of the migraine process. Over the years I've gotten so good at it, I don't even have to pull over when driving to abort an oncoming migraine.

My hope is that my story will help someone to avoid the horror and suffering migraines can cause.

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