Sunday, September 9, 2012

Health Update: Weird Science and Angerpalooza

The Pentasa seems to be working for me. I have been drastically better since I started taking it. Very few bad days. It has been quite amazing.

So I find this kind of funny... Pentasa has a very good track record for helping with ulcerative colitis, which I don't have. It is used to treat crohn's, and has been classified as "safe and effective for crohn's. Some studies have shown it helps in 51% of cases in trials, vs 50% with placebo. In other words. out of 100 people, 50 people get better taking a sugar pill, 1 person gets better because of the Pentasa, and 49 people get nuttin'. You could argue that Pentasa helps only 1 out of every 100 crohn's patients. Yet it earns a "Safe and effective". Studies of aloe vera yield the same results, but aloe vera is not considered an effective treatment.

Don't get me wrong, given that I appear to be that 1 out of 100, I am very happy that Pentasa is considered effective, and therefore available as an option for me to take (side note, I tried aloe prior to Pentasa. It actually made my symptoms worse, which has been documented to occur  for some people, lucky me). But I do find it curious how similar results appear to yield very different labels in the scientific and medical community. Human bias? Profitability?

So it turns out Pentasa has an unpublished side effect, which appears to affect me. I first learned about it from a friend and co-worker who has had Crohn's since he was a teenager. A month after I started taking Pentasa he told me too watch out for bouts of uncontrollable anger. I didn't think much of it at the time, as I hadn't noticed anything. I checked with my wife, just in case I had missed something, and she hadn't noticed any behavioral changes.

I had actually forgotten about that conversation completely, until a month ago, when I smacked the plastic edge of the microwave with the side of my hand. I was at home with the kids, who were being unusually bratty, and I lost my temper. There was a lovely cracking sound. The damage to the microwave was... none whatsoever. The bump which erupted on the side of my hand was quite large and instant. Fortunately, no broken bones, but there is still a bump there a month later, and it is still tender.

A neighbor came over and watched the kids while I went to the emergency room to get it checked out, and I stewed about how embarrassing it was that I lost my temper like that, Then I started think back to how in the past three weeks there had been 3 or 4 times that I had noticed a feeling of anger. Just out of the blue, for no reason whatsoever. This led to a "What the heck is wrong with me? Am I going mad?" moment. Then I recalled my previously mentioned conversation with my co-worker about Pentasa and uncontrollable anger.

I have made an effort to learn more about this particular side effect. That has proven difficult. See, this particular side effect only occurs in 1% of patients, and only in males. There is a similar side effect in females - anxiety - which also has a 1% rate of occurrence. Perhaps they are the same mechanism, with varied results due to gender chemistry differences. <insert shrug here>

It is difficult to find much information because these side effects aren't listed. The law permits the exclusion of side effects with a rate of occurrence of 1% or less. Naturally, they are excluded. As a result documentation is very sparse.

But, now I know about it, and if I feel it coming on, I go hide, listen to music, read a book, fiddle with the computer... until it passes. If it is just me and the kids, we have worked out that I say "Code-red" then go hide, and the older kids will take the younger ones to the couch and read books to them until I return (we should probably have a few practice drills, just to make sure they remember and follow through...).

The tricky part, I am discovering is recognizing when I am having an event. It starts out, not so much as anger exactly, as... agitation maybe... And of course  as it is occurring, my first reaction is to simply try to stifle it. I am a grown man after all, I should be able to control my emotions, right? So I initially try to tough it out, which means I get further agitated.

So If you see me starting to turn green, just tell me to go to my room.

No comments:

Post a Comment