I got on a train before dawn this morning in order to make it to my appointment with Dr. P at 8:30 am. It was worth it. We had an awesome chat (we always do) and made each other laugh (we always do). We talked about why I am against the idea of tapering my Effexor dose or trying to switch to a better-researched, more-often-prescribed SSRI:
“I have accidentally lied to everyone every time we have made changes to my meds. I will say ‘I’m fine! I’m fine!’ And then ‘OOPS I lost my job because I was so anxious I couldn’t leave the house. Maybe I’m not fine.’ I am terrified that if we do it again, that will happen again. I don’t want to do it again. I can’t afford to lose this new job.”
She completely agreed with my reasoning. She told me that she had just finished a frustrating and unsuccessful attempt to switch another patient to Zoloft. This was a huge relief, because honestly, I would have doubted myself if she had questioned my decision. In fact, while I was talking, I was thinking “Maybe I’m just not being tough enough?” That’s not a thought I need. It’s also not an accurate thought. I am one tough lady.
At the end of our session, I heard the most wonderful words I have heard ever during this entire process:
“I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I have officially done everything I could possibly do. Including all of this:
I hope not to add any prescriptions to my daily regimen of pills, but I have acquired quite a collection of vitamins and supplements. I’ve replaced prescriptions meant to help with migraines and insomnia. Recent blood work revealed that I have almost no Vitamin D in my body; without Vitamin D, I’m not going to even get pregnant, let alone give a fetus enough Vitamin D to grow bones and other important things. The weird thing is that I’ve been taking quite a bit of D since I first learned I was deficient last summer. And yet… nothing! So I added some more of that. There are other vitamins and supplements to prepare my body for pregnancy, too.
It’s starting to make me laugh, because there so many bottles. I had a drawer for them. They don’t fit anymore. I tried to take a picture for you, but they didn’t all fit in the frame. I have a very large pill organizer like the ones old people use. Seriously. I made these collages so you could see all the bottles, though:
What are they all for? Well, here’s a list, excluding the prescriptions:
- New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care Supplement (calcium) & New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal: These two are for the pregnancy. Most people take one prenatal vitamin per day after they find out about a pregnancy. The problem with this is that most prenatals have lots of iron and lots of calcium, but our bodies can’t absorb both at the same time. “Calcium inhibits iron absorption from non-meat sources. Wait at least 2 hours before taking an iron supplement following a calcium supplement or vice versa” (MIT). The coolest thing about the New Chapter prenatal is that it’s made from food and includes probiotics; you take three small pills a day instead of one huge pill, and it’s so easy on the stomach that you can take it on an empty stomach. [New Chapter has not asked me to praise their products, nor have they paid me. For the record.]
- Nordic Naturals Arctic D: Cod Liver Oil (liquid): Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, key elements for, well, life in general, but especially for pregnancy. “DHA is an essential fatty acid—we must get it from diet or supplements, because our bodies don’t make it—and consuming enough DHA is critical for normal and healthy development of infant brain, eyes, and nervous system.” And… “Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.” My nutritionist recommends this brand for several reasons, but it comes down to this: “…fresh and pure raw material: fish low on the food chain, which naturally contain low levels of impurities (and are also ideal for long-term sustainability, given their short reproductive cycles). All of our products are made exclusively from four types of fish, none of which is endangered: wild-caught Arctic cod (Skrei)…” Do you know what’s in the fish oil pill in on the drug store shelf? Mean neither. Also, it really does taste like lemon, and there’s no burping. Watch the expiration date, if you use this: three months after you open it, it’s done. And I mean done. I learned this the hard way. (The Arctic D has extra Vitamin D in it–to help with my deficiency.)
- Vitamin Code RAW D3 is made from food and other stuff found in nature, like the New Chapter products, but it’s got 5,000 mg of D3 in each pill. I’m hoping that between the sheer amount of D in the supplement and the “RAW” part, my body will start absorbing and retaining some of the stuff.
- CoQ10 and B2 are supposed to help prevent migraines. My neurologist recommended this. The suggested dosage varies, but I take 400 mg. The migraine treatment with B2 is 400 mg as well. I’m not taking that much for now, at least until I can find out if it’s safe during pregnancy. Note: I took another brand of CoQ10 (I think it was NatureMade) and it had all sorts of artificial colors in it, so I threw it out. Read the labels! Why put artificial colors in a nutritional supplement? I don’t understand it at all. Apparently because it’s good for the heart and blood it should be colored bright red? So strange.
- Passion Flower is the extract of said flower, and I put some of this tincture in a glass of water before bed. I’m really hoping that traditional medicine is right, and passion flower helps with sleep and anxiety.
- Magnesium Citrate is helping my body handle all the iron in the prenatal, aid digestion in general and is also good for anxiety. Ever seen that Natural Calm powder stuff? It’s mostly magnesium oil in pill form. It’s just easier for me to remember pills than powders (because of the old lady pill organizer…)
Both the magnesium and the passion flower were given to me by the latest addition to my team, a naturopath, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner. We’re mostly going to use acupuncture to help with my sleep issues, since we don’t want to add a bunch of herbal stuff that might not be so safe for pregnancy (natural is not the same as safe!). The passion flower has been approved by an herbalist she trusts, and that’s good enough for me–the dose is tiny.
If you haven’t tried acupuncture, no matter who you are or whether you are perfectly healthy, DO IT. It feels so good. I rarely ever feel any of the needles themselves, if I do it’s like a tiny pinch, and after a session, I feel like five pounds have just evaporated out of my muscles.
So that makes nine kinds of pills and two liquids, but it’s actually a total of 15 pills I swallow every day. And two liquids. I guess that’s why I’m so careful about what’s in each one of them.