Guess what, guess what, guess what?! I am officially weaning myself off Zonegran. My neurologist gave me a plan to follow and everything. I started on the drug in April 2006 and quickly worked my way up to 200mg/night. In October of 2006, my neurologist upped it to 300mg/night in the hopes of killing off more Migraine attacks.
It is now January 2008 and, after months of going back and forth about the issue, I've finally started the process of getting off the meds. This marks the second night in a row I'll be taking 200 mg/night instead of 300mg.
Here's the plan.
Up until now: 300mg/night before bed.
Then for two weeks: 200mg/night before bed
For two weeks after that: 100mg/night before bed
And for the two weeks after that?: 100mg every OTHER night before bed
And then I'll be done. Minor snafu? The doc didn't call in enough pills to the pharmacy to get me through all the weeks. I'll run out of pills during the last stage, right when I've almost got it beat. We shall deal with that when the time comes--a quick but annoying call to the neurologist's voicemail will clear that right up.
To complicate and [I sincerely hope!] improve things, I've been prescribed a new treatment, if "prescribe" is the accurate word here. My doctor is requesting (nay, ordering!) that I begin taking a new pill every day, but not one I need his signature for. What is this, you ask? Why, it's a little something called Petadolex. This herbal supplement has virtually no side effects, is relatively inexpensive (especially if you're starting from scratch sans insurance like me!), and is readily available on this here World Wide Web. There are actually verifiable scientific studies in which results show that Migraine frequency and intensity decreased in people using it daily. And my neurologist, one of the foremost experts in the field, is recommending that I take it.
So why didn't my doctor tell me about this long ago?
I fear that the answer lies in the well-founded fear that doctors are getting some pretty big payoffs from Big Pharma in exchange for pushing certain drugs to their patients. (I just stumbled across this article that describes how influential drug reps can be! Frightening.) This doesn't seem entirely true in my case, perhaps, since I was taking the generic form of Zonegran anyway--but I lasted the first four months of my drug therapy without needing one prescription from my local pharmacy. Why? Because my neurologist had tons (TONS!) of free samples to give me. While I was very grateful for this, I also find it off-putting to think of the millions of dollars and labor hours spent in order to get those sample packets into my hand. I fear that the motive isn't just to make me and others like me well. I think it may have to do with handouts, payouts, and some free vacations and dinners to boot. A friend of mine who's a pharmacist just went to a talk given by my aforementioned well-known neurologist--a talk about Topamax. "Why would he do such a think in his free time? You know he's got to be getting paid for it."
And I'm off on a little bit of a tangent. I'm really hoping that there's a good reason why I went through four preventative treatments, all of which had adverse side effects, all of which I told the doctor I was hesitant to go on, before he told me about this side-effect-free alternative therapy. I really hope that the reason has nothing to do with his being money-grubbing, 'cause I like him. I do.
Goodnight, and I hope you're feeling well!