In the early fall of 2012, I realized that the OTC version of Prilosec I’d been taking was not helping me as much as it had when I was taking the prescription version 12 years prior. I went to a recommended gastroenterologist and spoke to him. He told me that taking OTC Prilosec was a joke because it was only 10mg. For someone like me, with the symptoms I was having, I needed to be on the full dosage, 40mg twice a day. Since I’d taken RX Prilosec before, and knew I didn’t have any side effects with it, I filled the prescription and began taking the pills.
See, I’m really sensitive to medications. If there is a side effect, I will get it. I can’t take anything anymore, including advil or motrin or alleve or anything…OTC or Rx. I even have weird side effects from taking anti-biotics. I only take them when I absolutely have to, and in that case I only take a z-pack, because I know the side effects I will get (which include burning hands and feet…something my doctors had never heard of, but it comes on shortly after I start the first pill and doesn’t go away for several weeks after I’ve finished the pills). But since I’d taken RX Prilosec for almost 8 months the first time, I figured it was safe.
I began taking the Prilosec as prescribed. The first week, it relieved my symptoms and I felt okay. Shortly thereafter, maybe 5 days in, the chronic gastritis symptoms returned, and some new ones came on. I thought it was the gastritis getting worse, but found out afterwards that it was the Prilosec side effects (like that horrible lump in the throat feeling? yeah, that one that makes you feel like you have to clear your throat all the time or swallow harder, or for some people–gag!) that were bothering me.
At the time I was taking Prilosec, I’d already been seeing a therapist about some grief issues, which were wrapped up with some mild depression over the loss I had sustained. The anniversary of the loss was coming up, and I knew I’d need to talk to someone, so I started going to see a nice (and highly recommended) therapist to talk. It seemed like she was able to help me with the grief and the trauma from the grief, but the depression seemed to be getting worse…going from mild to somewhat moderate. In addition, I began to feel tired all the time, lethargic and uninterested in getting out of bed. My energy was gone, my interest in even moving to go to the bathroom was zilch. I’d been dealing with food issues because of my gastritis, including cutting back on carbs and sugar, as well as the regular GERD diet, and I was eating smaller meals to relieve my stomach pain and heartburn. When I began to drift into this lethargy, I stopped eating almost everything and began watching every morsel that went into my mouth. I also started to become paranoid about what was IN the food I was eating. I was sure everything I ate would give me an allergic reaction (like anaphylaxis). Food that I’d never had issues with before were starting to scare me. If it wasn’t something plain, like grilled chicken or lettuce or cottage cheese, I wouldn’t eat it. My mother made tuna salad with mayonnaise and celery, but I wouldn’t eat it because I was afraid there was something in it that would make me sick. I eat tuna salad all the time…but my brain was telling me no way was I putting that in my body.
I also began to be afraid to be alone. And in some cases, not just alone in the house, but alone in my bedroom–which was where I was living…in bed. I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t moving. I was existing, in a weird reality of depression and anxiety and paranoia. In addition, my body was in pain. My neck and shoulders were stiff, my limbs all felt heavy and immovable. I couldn’t hold my head up. But yet, I couldn’t lay still in bed…I was constantly shifting and moving my legs and my body. There were times when I could carry on what felt like a normal conversation with the person who was staying with me, and other times when I couldn’t bear to concentrate. I was too tired, or too depressed, or too upset. This all was occurring when my husband and I were hosting his parents in our home for a week. What luck, yeah? They were in from California, and we hardly ever see them. So while my husband entertained his family, my mother would sit with me in the bedroom.
One evening while the in-laws were here, I just couldn’t deal anymore. With encouragement from my parents and my husband, I decided to go to the ER of a local but well-known hospital. The night before, I packed things I might need if they wanted me to stay. I prepared myself with personal products and clothing, wrote a note to my husband about how I felt about him, how sorry I was for doing this to him, and what I wanted from him if I didn’t come home again. I was entirely convinced that the hospital would want to commit me, or that I would die. The morning we went to the ER, I begged my husband, in tears, not to leave me alone. Not to let them take me away. That it was my utmost fear that they were going to commit me and take me away from everyone I knew. I was desperate enough to go for help, but terrified at what the “help” might actually mean.
(Luckily, after researching Prilosec after my ER visit, I quit cold turkey and the “adverse reactions” tapered off. It took several weeks for me to start feeling normal again! It is appalling that this isn’t being talked about and that doctors aren’t warning their patients of the possible adverse reactions…)