Lithium – severe reaction

Back on May 25th of 2012 after trying various medications to try to control my Bipolar disorder and after being in a manic stage for quite some time. My doctor decided he was going to try me on Lithium.  We were to start off very slow. 150 mgs for a week and then increase to 300 mgs and then go from there once I saw him again in 2 weeks from the initial start date.   We always tend to start medications slow.  My doctor believes in treating the symptoms with the lowest amount of medications needed instead of treating numbers.

Around 9:30 -10:00 pm that night I took my 150 mg dosage.  A few minutes later a friend of mine called to see if I wanted to drop over her house.  She had a few girls in for a few drinks.  I could not drink but I went anyway for the social aspect of it.  Plus this friend had been there for me through so much and was the one who gently nudged me to get help which in turn gave me my Bipolar diagnosis and got me the help and treatment that I needed.  (If she is reading this, I am forever grateful)

We were all sitting around the table chatting. Tossing around ideas for a project and having a great time.

This is where the story gets ‘fuzzy’ for me.  Some of this story will be my actual memories while some of it will be what has been filled in for me by my friend and my husband, and even my daughter.

So I had been at my friends maybe an hour.  So that was about an hour after taking the lithium pill.  I apparently got very quiet.  I was just sitting there and stopped interacting with what was going on.  I know that I started to feel really sick.  I was unsure of what exactly the problem was.  So I stood up and decided that I was going to go home.  At this point I did not know just how ‘sick’ I was.  I had planned to get into my vehicle and drive home.  Lucky for me, my friend noticed that something was wrong.

Apparently when I got up from the table to leave I was slurring my words and was staggering across my friends kitchen towards to door to leave.  She noticed and lead me to her couch and laid me back on it.  I remember a distinct sensation of not being able to swallow.

This is where the story begins to get fuzzy….

I was told that I lost all my color, I went completely white and clammy and was sort of changing colors.  This was filled in by my friend and the other girls as well as the paramedic.

The sensation of not being able to swallow was very strange and I actually felt fear.  It felt like my body “forgot” how to swallow. After a while I was able to swallow but only if I had water in my mouth.  My daughter was there and I remember her shoving a bottle of water into my hand and saying “DRINK”, she was 10 years old and during what I am sure is one of the scariest things she has ever been involved in she was able to think clearly and talk to me.

Everything from my neck down felt tingly and felt numb like dead weight.  I felt like I had no control over my body, and that my limbs were like rubber.  I felt like I could not breathe.

My neck, back and knee started to hurt, and everything felt like it was so heavy.  I was slurring my speech which then got so bad that I was only able to give one word answers.  I had trouble understanding what people were saying and my sight was really blurry.

I must have been going in and out of it because I can vaguely remember the paramedics saying “Stay with us, are you still with us?”

Our daughter was crying to break her heart, but at the same time she was being so strong.  I was actually scared to death that I was going to die in front of her.  I did not want the scene in front of her to be the last memory she had of me.

The paramedics tested my sugar and it was 16.4.  My sugar has NEVER been above 5.4 ever in my life so that was really high for me.  My blood pressure was 179/97.

I remember being really cold and my teeth were chattering.  In the ambulance they covered me in 4 blankets and gave me oxygen.

I remember my daughter climbing into the back of the ambulance crying to give me a kiss before we left for the drive to the hospital.  Its an hour drive to the nearest hospital, we got their a lot sooner then that.

I was not able to see the doctor who prescribed them and ended up seeing an ER doctor who basically said it was side effects and to keep taking them, my body would get used to them.

My husband basically said “Hell No, they are going back to the pharmacy to be disposed of, you are not ever taking them again.”

I saw my doctor a few days later and it was decided to stop the lithium (which I already had) and we made some changes and started another medication.

To this day we do not know for sure whether it was an allergic reaction or just a random reaction that my body had to lithium. But whenever I have to see a doctor or go to a hospital and they ask if I have any allergies I always reply “Lithium”. I want it on my chart just in case something happens and I end up admitted for something and they start treating me with it and I am not able to tell them.

I am curious to know what your experiences with Lithium are.  Good or bad experiences.  Comment and let me know.