Dys is not good

Literally, it’s not.

Pronounced “dis”, it’s quite literally Latin for ‘Bad’. And it’s used a lot in modern language to describe bad things:

Dyspepsia – bad digestion
Dystopia – a bad place to live
Dysentery – which very much uses dat exit
Dysfunctional, dyslexic, dystrophy, dysphonia, dysphoric.

There are plenty of others, too: yesterday, I learned about dysesthesia. It’s why I can’t wear trousers.

noun MEDICINE
noun: dysesthesia
an abnormal, unpleasant sensation felt when touched, caused by damage to peripheral nerves.

Yes, it would seem that along with everything else that went wrong with my knee op, there’s some damage to the infrapatellar branch of my left saphenous nerve. Now we know. It means that I get an abnormal, unpleasan… look, it means I experience dysesthesia.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really have an issue with wearing shorts, but it would be nice to have the choice to cover my lower half every now and again.

Fortunately, with every diagnosis comes a potential cure. The first option is expensive: it’s pregabalin – an anti-epileptic drug. My doctor told me how to take the tablets:

First you open the box.
Then you take out the big patient information leaflet, and you burn it.
Then you take the tablets.

I covered this approach about 10 years ago.

Still, I never take my own advice, and so I hit up my local search engine and ho-lee sheet! He wasn’t joking. Here are a selection of potential side-effects.

  • accidental injury (!)
  • bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
  • rapid weight gain
  • unusual weight loss (er…)
  • uncontrolled eye movements
  • loss of bladder control
  • painful or difficult urination (er…)
  • loss of consciousness
  • difficulty having a bowel movement
  • difficulty with speaking
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • false or unusual sense of well-being (lol)
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness (more like it)

We’re not done yet though:

  • Urinary incontinence (again)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Impotence
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary incontinence (and again)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Anorgasmia

Oh good.

And these aren’t even the serious ones. But don’t worry, the serious ones are all listed there as well. And they make it quite clear –  that while this drug might stop your knee feeling weird, but it might also completely – completely – fuck up your kidneys, bowels, bladder, gentleman’s parts, lady bits, liver, brain, immune system, skin and guts.

And how’s this one?

False beliefs that cannot be changed by facts

Hilarious. It was only on the weekend that I shared this quote about annoying people who I now recognise are just taking pregabalin.

In an argument between a logical person and illogical person, the logical person is always going to lose because the illogical person isn’t playing by the same rules.

No. They’re smashed off their heads on anti-epileptics, farting, leaking and they can’t get it on, or indeed off, or get it out. Or keep it in.

Eish.

Fortunately, as you may recall some 14 paragraphs up, there is another method of potentially defeating dysesthesia. It involves a sheet of sticky plastic, adhered across my knee, just below my patella. I’m trying it out now and I would show you what it looks like, but I can’t BECAUSE I’VE GOT JEANS ON!

Boom!

It does seem that it’s actually the occasional touch of cloth (careful now) that triggers my dysesthesia. Stick a big sheet of medical plastic over the affected area and there’s constant pressure on there. I guess it’s like knocking back a shot bad tequila in one go to avoid any further afterburns.

I don’t want to tempt fate, but it seems to be working. And (as far as I’m aware) it doesn’t have any of Pregabalin’s potential side effects. It will hurt a bit when I have to replace it.

On a more serious note, it’s likely that my dysesthesia will disappear by the end of the year, which is something that I really look forward to. And while I have made light of the huge list of dodgy consequences of Pregabalin, I’m also aware that for patients to choose (or have) to endure those risks and that unpleasantness, they must be facing severe medical problems, and I’m very glad that I’m not in that situation.

Never read the small print

I’ve hurt my arm.

It’s nothing serious, but it is pretty painful. My doctor sent me for precautionary x-rays, which showed that everything is ok bonewise. She also gave me some anti-inflammatory tablets which she enthused about. In fact, she got quite carried away, reminding me of my wife when she discovers something else she can do with MS Excel.
Sheesh – accountants/doctors/other happy professionals.

Anyway, such was the doctor’s excitement over these tablets, I found that my scientific curiousity had been somewhat stimulated. I was almost quivering with mounting anticipation as I headed home from the pharmacy.
As soon as I got in and had removed the scrambled egg from the carpet, sofa and curtains (see: 2-year-old, having a), I went through the HUGE package insert. After a while, I realised that despite my years of medical training, I was struggling to understand a word of it. Then I realised I was looking at the Afrikaans side.

Etorikoksib word omvattend in die lewer gemataboliseer en minder as 1% van die dosis word in die urine as onveranderde geneesmiddel herwin.

Which, for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is pretty remarkable. And probably accounts for the mean oral bioavailability of 100%, which impressed me too.
Etoricoxib (the English spelling) is a COX-2 inhibitor. Stop sniggering at the back. 
Hmm. That’s obviously enough of the exciting pharmacology.

I moved onto the section entitled Side Effects and Special Precautions.  Yes – we’ve all seen renal failure, dyspepsia, nausea, dizziness, headache and the obligatory DEATH (“Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Mr Thousand!”). However, I was taken completely by surprise by what I read after those little gems. It was there I came across the best side effect I’ve ever heard of:

“detachment of the top layer of skin from the lower layers of the skin all over the body”

How cool is that? You too can be a snake for a day. Just don’t roll in salt afterwards.

I’m off out for a curry this evening – can you imagine the reaction as I moult gently into the shared naan bread?
“Hmm – this is a bit flaky tonight… not up to their usual standard.”