Day 7: Doctor’s orders

First off, I’d like to discourage people with epilepsy from ignoring doctor’s orders and self-medicating. It’s a bad idea. (I did it anyway.)

In my case, it wasn’t a big deal—at my last appointment, the doctor told me to increase my daily dosage of lamotrigine (Lamictal) by a certain amount each week. I got to the final week and started having problems, so I went back to the prior week’s dosage before talking to the doctor again and it’s gotten better.

During the course of the last few weeks, treatments have ranged from “only increase lamotrigine” to “also stop depakote and start taking vimpat” to “Vertigo? Wanna have surgery?” All because I started having small seizures this year that happened three months apart.

It can be difficult to describe “This is what my seizures are like” to a doctor. Hopefully, you can explain the symptoms well enough that they’ll understand the problem and find a treatment that will work extremely well. If you decide to go another route… don’t let epilepsy turn your life into a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book:

Listen to doctor, turn to page 16.
Ignore doctor and take your own drugs, turn to page 33.
Page 33: Bad things happen and you end up in the hospital having more seizures.

The one reeeeeeeally important thing about good doctors is that they listen. They accept feedback. None of mine have ever said, “This is what you’ll do because I said so and I went to medical school!” And so we listen to each other as we consider options for treatment, we choose something and then see what happens. The result of only increasing my lamotrigine dosage? Turn to page 46.

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