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Doctor’s Orders

Jennie is very amused.

And I can’t really blame her. I mean, it’s one thing for my doctor to tell me to get some exercise. But when the doctor in question is actually my psychiatrist…

Yeah.

So here’s the backstory. Last week sometime, Jennie and I went shopping. We got home, and I got the job of lugging groceries upstairs. After I’d gotten to the top of the stairs the second time in rapid succession, I suddenly started to feel dizzy, and had to go sit down. That didn’t actually make things any better; in fact, that’s when I started to feel very nauseous. I sat it out, and after five minutes the worst of it passed.

I related this incident to the doctor, in case it might have been a side effect of one of my meds. He said probably not. The lithium wouldn’t do that at this low a dose, unless I was extremely dehydrated (and if I really was that far dehydrated, I suspect I’d probably be feeling like crap with or without the lithium). And the dextro can elevate heart rate, but he said it wouldn’t have effects like what I described. His guess was that either I’d had a panic attack (possible, though I don’t think I felt panicked), or, more likely, that I’m badly out of shape.

He also pointed out that exercise increases the body’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are exactly the things we’re trying to improve with the dextro (and the Adderall and the Ritalin before it). And besides, exercise should help me sleep better — and I’m sure that sleep deprivation isn’t helping my attention span. (It’s hard to get to bed at a decent hour when Jennie works until 11 at night, especially since we don’t eat supper until she gets home. I need to make the most of the sleep I get.)

I also mentioned a couple of things that I’ve been thinking about lately. Over the last few years, I’ve started to stutter more, and stumble over my words (which did happen to me as a kid, but only around cute girls). And I’ve been having more trouble reading — getting words mixed up, that sort of thing; not anything I ever had the slightest problem with before the last few months; heck, I used to be able to read software license agreements like a pro.

Since I was in a psychiatrist’s office anyway, I figured I’d ask him about this, in case it was cause for concern (endocrine problems, maybe?) The answer was probably not. He has a colleague who’s a speech therapist, and based on stories they’ve swapped, he says the stuttering may be stress-related (plausible enough). And his first guess about the reading was the same as my first guess — that it’s probably time to get my glasses prescription checked again. (Pity insurance doesn’t agree — they say I’m not due for another year. I can see extremely well with my glasses on, both close-up and distance, but the problem could be eyestrain if my glasses are too strong again.)

At any rate, he said I shouldn’t go thinking that exercise is some sort of magic bullet, but that it does tend to help with stress, as well as sleep and neurotransmitters (though probably not eyesight).

So, pursuant to doctor’s orders (and being in a mood for walking anyway — I have been for a while, actually, but the weather hasn’t been very cooperative lately), I went for a brisk twenty-minute walk this evening. Well, almost; I got dizzy and slightly nauseous a little before the ten-minute mark, and decided that would be a good time to turn around and go back home. Maybe a little less brisk next time.

I do feel a little bit better, I think. I’ll have to see how well I sleep tonight. Hopefully Jennie won’t keep me awake with her laughing. (I love you, dear.)

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