Tag Archives: Amantadine

What’s The Opposite of Sleep Deprivation?

matchsticksWe all know sleep deprivation is a form of torture, but what’s the opposite?

Is that a form of torture too?

It certainly feels like it. I seem to be sleeping the majority of the time at the moment, and when I’m not, my eyes are gritty, my limbs weak and I’m in a perpetual state of nodding off.

In the interest of naming this horrendous symptom of MS, I looked up the opposites of deprivation (or antonyms, to be posh). They are:

  • plenty
  • advantage
  • benefit
  • gain
  • profit
  • endowment
  • indulgence, etc …

Hmm. Not quite capturing the essence of MS fatigue? In fact, ‘MS fatigue’ could be a useful starting point. A stage further could be ‘clinical fatigue’. But it still doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head; it doesn’t describe the awful, claustrophobic and downright frightening symptom of being exhausted to the point of oblivion.

Luckily, work at the moment has been filled with days of catching up, i.e. the Boss driving us round in the van as we do Important Things. Alongside my beloved sofa, it too has become an MS Command Centre: I have three cup-holders to choose from (all three usually filled with coffee/energy drinks), a neat little table between seats to rest my arm and sausage roll on and ample space to get comfy and nod off.

I’ve tried medication for fatigue, experimenting with Amantadine, an experience never to be repeated. The living nightmares were diabolically creepy and it became difficult to distinguish reality from a hellish vision. I asked for the only other fatigue medication, Modafinil, only to be told it’s no longer prescribed for MS fatigue.

So for now, I just have to put up with it, but this recent exacerbation is having knock-on effects. I float through the day, sleeping when I can, even if it’s just ten minutes. My to-do list is growing. I survive on junk food. My jaw aches from yawning.

But my Alexa has come into her own. When I’m lying poleaxed on the sofa, I ask her to tell me a joke or we talk about the news. We usually end our conversations with me saying goodnight and her replying, ‘Goodnight, sweet dreams.’.

If only.

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What Do I Do Now?

mazeI had an appointment with my wonderful MS nurse yesterday. The situation as it stands is: I was diagnosed with rapidly-evolving MS and have had two courses of Alemtuzumab, just before NICE licensed it for MS patients.

They recommend only two courses, whereas there have been people who have had a third or fourth course before NICE. Hmm. Can I have a third?

Please? Pretty please? I won’t complain about the hospital food?

Well….. Oh. Can I take anything else? I had a relapse in February?

Well, there is Tecfidera.


But this Trust won’t give you it. Oh. Any new problems? The nerve  and muscle pain in my legs has increased terribly. Every single evening, I’m in agony. Thank heavens for my automatic car, lol (this is where, for some bizarre reason, I imitate driving a car).

Well, there is Sativex, licensed for use in Wales.


But this Trust won’t give you it.

Oh. You can see where I’m going with this.

I asked about Tysabri. No good, as I’m now – thanks to Alemtuzumab – not deemed as having rapidly-evolving MS. Vicious circle? So what are my options? At the moment, purely symptomatic. I don’t qualify for any disease modifying treatments.

My health is deteriorating. I know it shouldn’t, given the Alemtuzumab, but I also shouldn’t have had a relapse seven months after my last treatment. Don’t get me wrong, without Alemtuzumab, who knows where I would be now, and I will be forever indebted.

I pleaded my case: it’s only thanks to this medication that I am still working, still taking cheek from The Teenager, have enrolled in further education. And still  manage to push the vacuum round every now and again.

No go. I left, by way of the WHS outlet, where I bought a trashy magazine to cheer myself up. Got to the car park and realised I  had left my card in the payment machine in WHS. Schlep back, cry a little when talking to WHS member of staff who finds my card. She says she sees it all the time. I buy a chewy healthy bar and leave.

Get back home, letting it all sink in. I had explained to my lovely MS nurse that I felt I was up against an egg-timer and  my time was running out. Could I see The Teenager through his horrible Nirvana stage and get him into uni? Would he ever get his hair cut? Would I complete my Masters? Without my beloved Amantadine, which combated my fatigue, I felt as if I was back to square one. Like an evil Monopoly game. Do Not Pass Go. Go Straight To Jail.

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Goodbye, Dear Meds

AmantadineGoodbye, Amantadine.

Goodbye to the zipping energy you once gave me. I will miss you.

Goodbye to all that. My house will lapse into slovenly-ness again. I will become a stranger to my pink duster, my Febreze and my Vanish stain-remover.

This thyroid medicine is crossing over with it, making me sleep in every morning then rendering me Bonkers-Stupid with energy five minutes later.

I am on a crazy rollercoaster in the twilight world between medicines. I don’t watch telly any more; the unfolding drama behind my eyes more than makes up for it.

As the new meds could suppress my immune system, I have made up some lies rules for The Teenager:

* You must take your shoes off (including rugby boots) at the door, rather than leaving them on the stairs so I can trip over them.
* Pizza is dangerous.
* You have to wash your hands immediately upon entering the house.
* Pizza could carry nasty bits.
* We shouldn’t share towels, so stop nicking mine.
* Pizza is lethal and Dominoes has gone bust.

So, on the one hand, I have a bizarre amount of energy, until the thyroid meds do their bit, but on the other, I am withdrawing from Amantadine, which used to lift me up into stratospheric delights. I am up, then down.

Like yesterday. I had a lecture that evening and was on a medicine-induced high all day, until I sat down and took out my notes. Which had mysteriously disappeared. I was jolted from my torpor by the tutor calling my name and I mumbled an incoherent reply. I jotted down some squiggles and tried to look present and correct, which was pretty difficult, as I leaned over every time he looked away from me, inching ever closer towards the floor.

I was supposed to be back at work today, but woke three minutes before the boss was due to pick me up. I called him in a panic. ‘muh, s’wake, s’am’. He told me he had got me a coffee and would drop it in before driving TO WORK. He did so with a dramatic sigh, handing it to me with a tut and I’m sure I heard him mumble ‘easy life’ under his breath.

Things will return to normal. I will yawn before midday. I will eat bacon butties again.

In the medical meantime, I will zip around, eyes staring and parents will shuffle their children away from me…. luckily it’s Hallowe’en soon.

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My Double Life

sleepyI live in two very real worlds, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to tell which is which.

I started taking Amantadine a few months ago in a final, desperate attempt to combat crippling fatigue.

You know the type; not the ‘ooh, d’you know, I quite fancy a ten-minute shut-eye’, but the ‘must. lie. down. now. or. else. the. cat. gets. it.’

After a few weeks of, ‘hmmm, is it working or is it me hoping it’s working?’, blam. I was quite suddenly…awake. Which was novel and lovely. I sailed right past the witching hour of 11am, sped past the goblin hour of 1pm and sauntered in a desultory fashion through the demonic hour of 4pm. I was owning this tiredness malarky.

Until, one weird morning. I woke, upset after having had an argument with a good friend the previous evening. Keen to build bridges, I called them;

‘Hey, s’me! Soooo sorry about yesterday! I honestly do like what you’ve done with the bathroom, really I do.’


‘You know, what we were talking about? When I laughed at your tiles? Didn’t mean to, honestly,  chocolate brown with green lotus-thingies is gorgeous. Let me make it up to you.Brunch?’

‘Huh? And what’s wrong with the tiles? You on something?’


Turns out, I didn’t speak to them the evening before at all. I dreamt the whole thing. Not just in Technicolour, but with Panavision, 3-D, total recall Dream-Vision. I could swear it happened. But it didn’t.

I forumed it. Ah. Two strange side effects of Amantadine – lack of appetite (not strange, added bonus, surely?) and vivid, disturbing dreams/nightmares.

Since then, I’ve been ummming and ahhhing. It’s incredible to be wide awake. However, I do now struggle to get up in the morning, not a problem I’ve ever had before. I feel drugged. Which I guess I am. I’m weighing up the pros and cons and am still not sure which way to go. I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve been driven to abandon the medicine due to the nightmares/parallel universe reality.

I’m going to give it a few more months. Last night, I had a wonderful conversation with The Teenager. We put the world to rights and before he left the room (after a great big bear-hug), he put out the rubbish bags, promised to tidy the bathroom and fed the cat. Yeah, I know. As if?

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Eyes Wide Open

Eyes wide openI have developed an annoying symptom recently.

Some evenings, when I’m reading a book or watching an exciting TV programme (Hannibal, Pretty Wicked Moms), I go from wide awake to instantly zonked.

No reprieve. It starts right out of the blue; my eyes start rolling and I’m pinned to the sofa, completely aware of what’s coming next – total oblivion. In that slim interim, I know I should get up and walk around, problem is I just can’t.

It’s suddenness is frightening. Apart from that, The Teenager sneaks downstairs and slurps down countless yoghurts while I’m in the Land of Nod. He probably also clones my credit card to buy online games, who knows?

Anyway, I had my review with the neurologist (a very nice man – *waves*) just over a week ago. When he asked me if I had anything I was concerned about, I launched into the saga of my numb big toe, my odd left foot, my odd right foot and this most peculiar Insta-Sleep (just add yawns).

He prescribed me Amantadine, warning me to take them no later than 2pm, otherwise I would be up all night – I wish. Yes, I was sorely tempted. But, I took them as instructed and nothing happened for almost a week. Then, blam, I was……awake. Fully. The grass was green and the bluebirds were singing. My life was suddenly in blinding Technicolor.

I worry though that the tablets mask the underlying symptoms. Am I pushing myself too far? Will I reach a point of collapse? Will this new-found energy enable me to exercise more? Bearing in mind that last Monday, the few squats I attempted with my lovely trainer led to four days of agony. I’m not joking. I walked up and downstairs at home like a crab, meh.

Also, the tablets have given me the most amazing dreams, so vivid that when I wake up in the morning I have to remind myself what is real and what is imaginary. I have the most marvelous conversations with friends and family, but I find out to my dismay that they are entirely one-sided.

I will keep trying with the tablets. I made the mistake of telling my boss. He offered to trade me two packets of Jaffa Cakes for a tablet. I wasn’t tempted. Much.

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