Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Controlling Birth Control.

Hi kids. This is a public service announcement: sometimes, generic versions of prescribed drugs are not your BFF.

I've been on the Pill for about a year. I started out taking Apri, and even though my doctor warned me that often one has to switch a few times to find a pill that is right for them, and even though my dad warned me that he thinks the pill is like "attacking a spider web with an army tank" (thanks Dad), I was a-okay. No mood swings, no bloating, and of course, no pregnancy. Yay!

Fast forward to...January? Around then. I go to Walgreens one day to get my handy dandy Apri. A few hours later I crack the bag open to pop the pill--PANIC ENSUES! "Oh my god," I remember exclaiming to my friends. "They gave me the wrong pill! This is not my packaging at all! And...what the fuck? I don't take Reclipsen. THIS IS SO IRRESPONSIBLE OF WALGREENS!"

So I went back to Walgreens all ready to raise hell. Well, the lady at the pharmacy counter explained to me that apparently I was the crazy one, because duh, Reclipsen was the generic version of Apri, and could I please stop flipping out, because they are the exact same pill, and Walgreens just doesn't stock Apri anymore, but they're the same, so who cares. "Can I help the next customer now, please?"

But I was not convinced, so I called my mom and my gynecologist to check it out. Everyone seemed to think it was fine, my gyno confirmed that Reclipsen is the generic version of Apri, and I felt okay about taking them. So I did.

I also started getting awful headaches. Not right away, because that would have been too obvious. They sort of built up. During most of second semester they were under control, though sometimes I would get a really bad one and have to go to bed early. During finals they started to hit really hard, which sucked, because you can't exactly just take a quick cat nap when you're trying to catch up on 300 pages of reading and memorize the four different kinds of muscle (are there four?). Anyway, they got progressively worse and worse from that point on, and for most of the summer I've had a migraine every single day. I'd literally come home from work with a pounding tension behind my eyes and lie on my bed for a few hours with an ice pack until the pain passed. Sometimes it went away. Sometimes I would have to wait until the next morning to feel zero pain.

Advil didn't work. Tylenol didn't work. I went to a neurologist, took a dose of steroids, had an MRI...the doctor was stumped, the steroids stunted the pain for a few days, and the x-ray showed that everything was as it should be. I just still was in excruciating pain every single day.
I'd never had headaches growing up, so I really didn't know how to respond to these seemingly incurable monsters. The pain started to run my life.

I'm not sure why I didn't realize immediately that there could be a link with the pill. I think I had mentioned being on the pill to my neurologist, but she didn't seem too concerned. Also, the headaches and the switch from Apri to Reclipsen didn't happen at exactly the same time--there were actually a few months where I was taking Reclipsen and I was fine. Anyway for whatever reason, going off the pill was not the first reaction in anyone's mind.

Which is unfortunate, because if I had just gone off Reclipsen sooner, I could have been saved a summer of migraines.

My aunt is actually the woman who needs to be taking credit, because while my poor distraught mother was explaining the situation to her over the phone she sensibly asked, "Well, do you think it's her pill?" Duh.

I've been off Reclipsen for about two and a half weeks now, and I'm not joking when I say my headaches are gone. I don't want to jinx it, but it's literally like they never even happened. I'm going to stay off the pill for a few more weeks, or until my cycle returns (another fun fact--apparently after going off the pill your body needs some time to adjust, so you usually don't get your period for about 6 weeks--but don't worry, it doesn't mean you're pregnant. Excellent thing to know!) and then I'll go back on Apri. But here's where the public service part kicks in.

Guess what? Walgreens doesn't stock Apri anymore, presumably because of a legalities with the insurance companies (it's cheaper for them to provide the generic version of a drug, obviously.) But CVS actually won't stock Reclipsen, because they have had so many negative reactions to it. They only sell Apri (and, presumably, other brand-name Pills that Reclipsen acts as a substitute for.) It's not Walgreens fault that they no longer stock Apri, and they were even really nice and said they'd order it for me when I gave them my "no substitutes" prescription, but the point is, as a rule, they don't even bother ordering it. What the fuck? Obviously not all people have negative reactions to generic substitutes, but they are not the same as the original brand. All the main ingredients are the same, but that does not make it the same drug.

So basically the moral of the story is: when trying a new drug, even just a generic version of a brand name you are currently taking, be extra careful. Watch your body like a hawk, and even if weird symptoms/side effects show up a few months later, take heed. My body tried to tell me for 7 months that Reclipsen was fucking with my system, and I was too blase to take the hint.

Listen to your bodies, kiddies, and be weary of generic drugs. Actually, be weary of drugs in general--how's that for a public service announcement?!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

I'm so so soooo glad you figured out what was going on! I was worried about you, V. I'm glad I wont be seeing you push on your eyeballs anymore. <3