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Old 12-16-08, 09:08 AM
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My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

If you would have asked me one week ago? I would have said that ADHD meds have changed my life for the better in so many ways. And it's still true that they make a huge difference in my abilities at school and in my professional life.

But after this last Thursday night I cannot and will not take any stimulant meds anymore...period!

I first started on meds about two years ago, and I was amazed at how much better school got for me. I decided to go after a science degree, something that I had wanted for so long, but I couldn't do the high level math so I thought I would never be able to do. When I started on the meds it was great, I could actually do the high level math that I needed. Since begininning the meds, I have aced chemistry and all my biology classes. I was so happy that I could finally focus so well. Having the meds was like a dream come true..with all the side effects of course. But I thought the side effects were worth it, until this last Thursday night when I experienced the mother of all side effects.

I had to write about it here. I'm not trying to be a downer but I had to tell people who are using the meds, what I went through a few nights ago. Let me start by saying that I have tried many of the stimulant meds, I am a healthy 30 yr old guy, no history of heart problems nothing like that. I've always been very physically active, ran 5ks etc.. I started on Rytalin, then went to Adderal, and finally ended up with Dex because I thought it worked the best.

It was finals week and my teacher lectured on new material only days before the final exam in chemistry. It was not fair in my opinion, seeing as we had weeks to absorb the same amount of material on prior exams...but what can you do? So Tue night I was in a hurry to absorb all the material and I couldn't sleep. This is normal for me the night before the exam, but not two nights before. So since I couldn't sleep, I took a couple more dex pills to make it through the night (15 mg extended release). This was not out of the usual for me during finals week. Plus, I had been building a healthy tolerance to the drug, so I'd been taking more of it lately anyway.

It turned out that Wed night--one night before the exam, I couldn't sleep either. I should note, that I had some sleep during the day on Wed, probably 4-5 hrs or so. On Thursday morning I was feeling absent minded, but I powered through the exam. I took my usual dose, plus a couple more that day to get through the exam, which lasted 3 hours. I bombed the exam, because of the lack of preperation time and the lack of sleep. Normally I do very well, but I could tell that something wasn't right. I was too absent minded and irritable from the extra Dex, and the lack of sleep.

I went home that night and didn't feel tired until 12pm, and thats when things got crazy. I laid down in bed after my nightly routine. As I was laying there, I noticed how fast my heart rate was--100bpm resting. Again, this was not out of the ordinary for being on the meds. But then I felt my pulse and it seemed erratic, like it was stopping and starting, then increasing in rate--something I had never experienced in the past with the meds. Then I started to breath heavily and rapidly, it felt like my throat and lungs were closing up. I started to feel light headed too, and thats when I became worried. So I stood up to go get some water and thats when I heard a loud ringing in my ears. My vision went white, and I had to fight to keep on my feet--I had nearly passed out.

I went to the kitchen and drank a ton of water, but I wasn't feeling better at all. My heart felt like it was beating erraticly and my breath was getting shorter and shorter by the minute. I started to get worried so I called my mom on the phone. During that conversation the symptoms got worse so I asked her to call an ambulance for me--she lives to far away to drive me, and in my state I was afraid to drive myself. I got dressed and went down to my truck and sat on the tailgate. This is when things really started to get scary. My heart felt like it was pumping mollases or honey or something, it was beating so hard, that it felt like it would tear, or just give up on any one beat. I started feeling chest pain, I got very tired, and my legs became numb on the tailgate. I started to feel like I was going to pass out again.

I stood up, my breathing got worse and everything above just kept getting worse and worse. I reached down to feel my chest, and I could actually feel a vein or artery pushing through my ribcage and pulsing with every beat of my heart. I have never felt anything like this near my heart, and it scared the daylights out of me. I began to panic, and my heart beat got more erractic. At this point I honestly thought my heart was going to stop at any moment. I called my mom and told her I loved her, told her to tell my sis too. I seriously started thinking about god and life. It was no doubt the scariest moment of my life. Just writing about it is elevating my heart rate. There is nothing scarier than feeling like your heart is gonna beat it's last beat...trust me...

Waiting for the ambulance seemed like the longest five minutes of my life, during which, my arms and shoulders became totally numb and got very cold to the touch. There was not a doubt in my mind that I was having a heart attack. My right arm would just get completely numb and cold for minutes at a time and then come back to feeling all of the sudden. When the paramedic finally arrived, he said my vitals were okay, but he took me to the hospital anyway. When I got there I was sitting in the emergency room talking to the lady, when all of the sudden my right arm went completely blue again. I could feel how cold it was with my other arm that was still completely normal. I could see all the veins in my arms shrink up and tense up and start pulsating. After a long time in the emergency room, and many EKG's later. The Doc finally came in to talk to me.

Here's what he told me: I had taken a little too much of the meds over too long a time period. My body couldn't take it. I was having vaso-constrictions (pulsating constrictions of the veins) and palpitations (irregular beating and pulsing of the heart and arteries around my heart). He said that I was having Panic/Anxiety attacks that were causing all the symtoms, along with the breathing. He said that the numbness in my limbs was due to the veins and arteries constricting and pulsating to control blood flow. He also said that the irregular heart rate was caused by my heart going into overdrive and beating almost twice in one beat, using the aorta twice or something like that. They did two EKG's and determined that I was okay, but I didn't feel okay. I had another panic attack on the way home with all the same symptoms.

It took me several hours and a few asprin to finally fall asleep. Now, days afterwards, my heart still aches a little bit. That vein near my heart that was beating, still feels sore, and I can still feel it pulse slightly. My breathing has been better, but I have been in bed for three days now. I am just now starting to feel like I can go on a walk. Exercise is supposed to help. But I am not even ready to run or do anything like that for a while. If I twist in the wrong direction it hurts my chest, and I still have sharp pains in the chest area.

Basically, there is nothing that any one could do to get me to take another Dex after that. They say that once panic attacks come on in a person, they may never go away. I am determined to get back into shape and make sure they stay away. I am just glad that I am alive. It was truly the scariest thing I've ever been through. So if you don't wanna stop the Dex after reading this, thats okay, I understand I guess. But just be very careful with the dosage and sleep. Those two things, combined with the stress of finals were what did me in. I pushed myself too hard. The problem with Dex, is that it turns off the normal warning signals, so it's easy to go without sleep, thinking you're fine. And as for the dose--I thought that I was okay, because I had been gradually upping the dose as I built a tolerance.

Regardless, I had to share this story with other Dex users. I was a dedicated user of this drug, until this happened. It just wasn't worth seeing my life flash before my eyes. I wish everyone out there the best of luck. If it ever comes down to your health vs. meds, choose your health. I think you'll be happier you did. And this is coming from a guy, who feels like he's giving up on his childhood dream of being a scientist. I will never be a good scientist without my health. Guess we'll see how the high level math goes this semester without the drugs?

I'm hesitant to go back to any ADHD drugs now. The truth is that they were having lots of adverse affects in many parts of my life, and I needed an excuse to get off of them anyway. This was far more than I needed, or any one should need? I felt like I was living like a robot on the drug--no real emotions really. Just like I was going through life with no sympathy or anything. It's gonna be hard to deal with my shortcomings proffesionally and academically, but I will have my good friends back, and will be more sympathetic in relationships too. I guess it took an event like the ladder to make me realize all of the other things I was giving up. Anyway, just sharing my experience.. I understand how hard the choices are between balancing the ups and downs of meds. I wish everyone the best.. I hope you never experience what I did...very scary. I wish it on no one. Thanks for reading. Sometimes it's better to live a long healthy, happy life, no matter what your shortcomings are mentally.
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Old 12-16-08, 03:46 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Let's be very clear here. You abused your drugs and skipped normal healthy sleep sleep in order to study for an exam, and then worked yourself up into a panic attack. All during an extremely stressful weeklong event, finals weeek. There was nothing physiologically wrong with you, as shown by the fact that the EMTs measured everything as normal.

Drug abuse, failure to sleep, stress, and a plain old-fashioned self-induced panic attack. And this is somehow your medication's fault? Take some responsibility here...
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Old 12-16-08, 04:56 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Wow great story. It tells me that no medications are not without risks. I really hope that your heart is okey. I do wonder, were the temporary heart problems caused by dexedrine, sleep deprivation or the panic attacks?
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Old 12-16-08, 07:12 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

As mentioned, it sounds like a classic panic attack...
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Old 12-16-08, 08:48 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

I agree with BlueRoo - sounds like you overdid the meds, plus other factors just stressed your body to the max.

For the record, how much dex did you take over the 48hr period prior to the panic attack? And at any point, did you consumer any acidic foods or drinks?
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Old 12-16-08, 10:32 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Yup, sounds like a panic attack. Lack of sleep and too much meds will do that.

Roo, no reason to be hard on the guy. Some people have to learn lessons the hard way - like me.
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Old 12-17-08, 01:32 AM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Nick,

Thanks for the courage to put this out there. Unfortantely, it is almost human-nature to want to chase after the feeling/retain the feeling of when we first started on the meds. When in fact, the medicinal benefit is "at tolerence", when we don't feel the stimulation (or feel the med) but the focus is everpresent. That more and more is taken to get back to that original feeling is the mousetrap. Also, time off is sometimes good as may lower the tolerence level - and less med is needed.

I wouldn't necessarily throw in the towel on all ADD meds, Straterra (not a stim) and Wellbutrin (which is a mild stimulant - but is not as rewarding because of the long onset and diminishment). Also, both meds are also antidepressants, so it may reduce your panic levels. I'd discuss your options with your doc. ADHD is as true a condition as diabeties, you wouldn't toss your insulin as you couldn't function - why would you elimainate the possibility to function and treat just as real - ADHD.

Think about the matter seriously as you may always regret not being as sucesssful because alternative meds were not explored.
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Old 12-17-08, 02:56 AM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADHDNEWB View Post
Yup, sounds like a panic attack. Lack of sleep and too much meds will do that.
Precisely.

I'm not trying to trivialize the OP's experience, but this is a pristine case of over-reaction. Of course, this is exactly how it is/happened in his mind, and that's why it seemed so bad.

This has happened to me on multiple occasions. No sleep, not eating for over 24 hours, and stress and anxiety will send me into this condition after taking my prescribed dose. There is no doubt that this is not a healthy or comfortable state to be in, and unfortunately for me it took more than once to smarten up. But in this context it will not cause permanent damage.

The lesson here is, take care of your body, take your meds as prescribed, and you wont end up feeling like death while looking like a dummy. Use your common sense.
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Old 12-19-08, 08:18 AM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Thank you to those of you who responded well to my posting. It is clear that you understood the purpose of my posting as purely informational.

Those who responded with negative criticism took my posting the wrong way.

I was simply telling my story for informative purposes only. I never said I didn't make mistakes. I told my story to help others to avoid the same situation and mistakes I made. Not because I wanted to get into a debate over what I did, or receive a ton of criticism for my mistakes. I am sure that those of you who criticized me are perfect people? But for those who are not perfect? I hope my posting helps you to avoid this happening to you.
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Old 12-19-08, 12:04 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

I am certain that Nick was aware that there were implications to no sleep, improper nutrition, over-medicating & running on empty. But, knowing and actually ad hearing to, are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the rear to wake up and realize that we are human-beings.

Kudos to you Nick for having the strength to share this personal experience. I view it as a red-flag reminder to take proper care of myself and thank you for that.

My best to you.
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Old 12-19-08, 12:51 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Nick, I'm glad you're feeling better and that everything turned out OK. But I don't think people were criticizing you for making a mistake. I think they were criticizing your post because it sounded like you were trying to blame the medication, when really it was your own recklessness that got you in trouble.

Quote:
So if you don't wanna stop the Dex after reading this, thats okay, I understand I guess. But just be very careful with the dosage and sleep. Those two things, combined with the stress of finals were what did me in. I pushed myself too hard. The problem with Dex, is that it turns off the normal warning signals, so it's easy to go without sleep, thinking you're fine.
You make it sound like the purpose of your post is to convince others to stay away from Dex. You also imply that Dex makes you think you can go without sleep. The truth is, it only has that effect if you take too much. I take Dex as prescribed, but I still get normal warning signals that tell me to eat and sleep. You do acknowledge that you pushed yourself too hard, and I give you credit for that. But Dex didn't make you do it.

Quote:
If it ever comes down to your health vs. meds, choose your health. I think you'll be happier you did.
This also makes it sound like you can't be healthy while taking meds. You seem to imply that we have to make a choice between one or the other, but of course it's possible to stay healthy while using Dex.

No one blames you for making a mistake; we all make mistakes. And I'm sure we're all grateful that you shared this story, as it is a good reminder to take your meds only as prescribed. The only thing I took issue with is that you made it seem as if Dex put you in the hospital because Dex is a dangerous drug. The truth is, you put yourself in the hospital because you misused your medication. It's kind of like saying "I swallowed 50 Tylenol and almost died. Stay away from Tylenol, it's dangerous!" Know what I mean?
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Old 12-19-08, 01:17 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

I think Nick's message has a variety of viewpoints. If you chose to angle it as him blaming the meds...than that is what you'll see.

If Nick feels that the meds were the cause of his ER visit, that is totally his right because it is his experience.

I felt his post was a thoughtful share especially in a world where burning both ends is viewed in a positive light. It reminded me to take proper care of myself. Not to tell Nick where to place blame.
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Old 12-19-08, 05:14 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Things don't become the truth just because we believe them hard enough. A choice was made to abuse his medication and abuse his drugs. A choice he entered into of his own free will. It's good that Nick shared his story, but lets be frank; the only moral here is that bad choices lead to bad consequences.
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Old 12-19-08, 09:40 PM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

I agree with you blueroo. Free-will includes the right to make poor choices. Nobody can take that right away from you except for you.
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Old 12-24-08, 05:54 AM
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Re: My Recent Dex Induced ER Visit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick682 View Post
Thank you to those of you who responded well to my posting. It is clear that you understood the purpose of my posting as purely informational.

Those who responded with negative criticism took my posting the wrong way.

I was simply telling my story for informative purposes only. I never said I didn't make mistakes. I told my story to help others to avoid the same situation and mistakes I made. Not because I wanted to get into a debate over what I did, or receive a ton of criticism for my mistakes. I am sure that those of you who criticized me are perfect people? But for those who are not perfect? I hope my posting helps you to avoid this happening to you.
EXACTLY the same thing happened to me last week. I didn't take any more dex then I am prescribed...
I stopped ritalin for the same reason...
I still take the dex as I need it for work, but I am quite wary of it happening again.
My shrink insists the heart symptoms you described are PERFECTLY NORMAL!!

I don't think so...the ED didn't think so either
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