A brief chronicle of my new life in Michigan, focusing on the fact that I live in a converted factory loft building with several hundered other "young professionals." Yeah, it's a yuppie dorm.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Template Redo, obviously

Well, I got sick of the old template, so I updated to one that perhaps reflects the spirit of yuppiedom. Or not. At least it's different. And I remembered to save the code on the old one so getting the links back, etc. was no big deal.

I just now need to remember how to get Haloscan comments back. In the meantime, I apologize for the Blogger comments that require you to sign in; they'll be gone as soon as I can manage it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Duchess of Malfi

About ready to lead a playreading of The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster. I'm not sure anybody will actually show up, but it should be a fun experience nonetheless. It's a play full of blood and gore, madmen and murders, if you've not read it.

I spent the weekend in Bloomington, trying to stave off an impending feeling of burnout. It was relatively successful - Matt and I actually relaxed, ate a lot, and watched silly movies. Now I can go back to Shakespeare with a renewed sense of purpose. This is good, for Hamlet and Othello are on deck.

Otherwise, I just spent about an hour cleaning my office, trying to get rid of the stacks of paper. Mostly successful; some stack redistribution rather than stack reduction, but it looks tidier. I think.

Lemming, as soon as I get all the picture stuff in one place again (parts have been in the office, parts at home) I'll post a bunch of pictures. I promise!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Huh - the one that I tried to post last night (Spring Break, sort of) just appeared when I posted the one this morning.

Sometimes, just letting the computers do their thing is the best idea....

Maybe this one will post...

I've been having trouble with writing posts, and then having Blogger eat them.

To summarize: thank you all for your input/support about the whole psychiatrist thing. I've got another appointment in late April with someone else, and I'm considering filing a complaint about the first guy with the state licensing board. I don't think he necessarily did anything wrong (mostly because I did my research and determined that his advice was not the best for me) or even that unethical. However, his attitude and manner were pretty awful, and he provided me with inaccurate and misleading information about this drug and its effects.

[Sidebar - found out one more inaccuracy: He told me that the drug had been approved for "about 15 years;" turns out that it's been approved for epilepsy since 1994 (11 years) and for bipolar since 2003 (1.5 years). It hasn't been FDA approved for unipolar (major) depression yet, though a few studies indicate its efficacy... but they all say "when other forms of antidepressants have proved ineffective." Effexor, while not 100% effective for me (sorry, whoever named it), has not been "ineffective." Again, the information given to me was technically somewhat accurate (off by four years for the epilepsy part), but highly misleading.]

Thank you, TRP, for the idea about filing a complaint. I'll check with my psychologist (a guy I really like) and see if he has any idea how to do that in Michigan.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Spring Break, sort of

First of all, thank you to all for your suggestions - TRP, I think I will pursue filing a complaint with the State licensing/medical board. I don't think what he did was malpractice, or maybe even that unethical (in the narrow sense of the word), but it certainly felt like inadequate and misleading care. I've got an appointment with my psychologist (the good one) on Wednesday, and I'll ask him about it. The more I've thought about this, the more I think that this guy was pushing a relatively untested drug for no good reason. In any case, I've cancelled my appointment with him.

Otherwise, Spring break is upon me, and I was in Chicago for the weekend (very fun, except for Matt's middle-of-the-night dental emergency, currently resolved.) I'm heading to London, Ontario for a conference on Thursday, so I've got a few days of no teaching to try to get some work of my own done (probably mostly working on the conference paper...)

Lemming - my grading pen photo will be up when I get my camera technology in all the same location.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tales from the Psychiatric Front

I'm in the process of trying to find a psychiatrist, because I've found that occasional courses of antidepressants make me, well, less depressed. And one needs someone with an MD to obtain those. So, I got an appointment with a local psychiatrist, with the only recommendation that he accepted my insurance. My psychologist (another recent find, and I *really* like him, which is making this whole thing with a psychiatrist easier) warned me that he's heard of a lot of the MD guys like to change the meds of new patients. This had never happened to me before; usually, anybody new I went to was pretty cool with what I had been on, and receptive to when I thought change was necessary. This guy, though - he had all the qualities I've learned to distrust in psychiatrists: older, male, paternalistic, non-native English speaker. None of these qualities (aside from the paternalism, which ticks me off no matter what) are drawbacks in and of themselves. I have nothing against male psych professionals; in fact, I've found I sometimes work better with them. And the non-native speaker thing I think is just a quirk of my experience.

And he immediately decided that my current antidepressant (Effexor) was not working, and since I'd already been on Prozac and Wellbutrin, the only thing left were "mood stabilizers." He pretty much ignored my "I'm doing fine on Effexor" comments. He ignored my "I'm not sure I want to try anything that I can't go off of easily" comment (Note: Effexor has a reputation for being very rough to go off of. I'm one of the lucky people who doesn't feel any effect from stopping it.) He even suggested that, after only 10 minutes of conversation with me, and only glancing at my reported medical history, that I maybe wasn't suffering from depression at all.

He spent most of the time extolling the virtues of what he continued to call "mood stabilizers" and basically said "well, if they don't work, you can just go back to Effexor, no problem." In fact, I should keep taking the Effexor, too while taking this "for a few weeks, at least." When I asked what physical effects it had, he said that it "helped headaches" and that it would make me feel better. I then clarified my question, and asked "what neurological effects does it have? What neurotransmitters does it work on?" and he basically admitted that science doesn't quite know. (Which I actually respect; I'm fully aware that the scientific community has no idea how most antidepressants truly work in the brain.) And I was out the door with a sample pack of Lamictal (lamotrigine).

So, I did what any self-respecting academic would do: I researched it. And I found out that:
  • Lamictal is classified as an "anticonvulsant" and is used to basically treat epilepsy and bipolar disorders.
  • Its efficacy in treating chronic depression has only recently been explored; only a few studies on its use for this are out there.
  • It is the one anticonvulsant that has no effect on headaches, in fact, headaches are a common side effect.
  • It can cause a rash that can kill you. (not too worrisome, you have to let it go for weeks before it will get to the "kill you" stage. Still, killer rash. Ick.)
  • It is difficult to stabilize dosage; also, it can have the effect of prompting seizures if stopped quickly, even if you've never had a problem with seizures.
  • A quick drug interaction check indicated a moderate risk when combining Effexor and Lamictal.

This doesn't seem the best drug for someone who is pretty happy with her current therapy, and wants something that can be stopped easily. I keep thinking - maybe I complained too much about the side effects (I do tend to go on and off drugs; I don't like the "wrapped in cotton wool/I don't care about anything" feeling I get when I'm on them too long.) But then I stop blaming myself, and realize that this guy just didn't listen to me. And really, that's a cardinal sin for a psychiatrist in my book. And he gave me inaccurate and misleading information. Combining Effexor and Lamictal isn't perhaps a good idea; it will probably make my headaches worse; and there are serious issues with going off this drug. I'm not putting any bit of that sample pack in my body; in fact, I want to toss the whole thing in the trash chute.

Time for a second opinion. Problem with that, is I can't get an appointment with anyone until late April. I've really got no choice; I can't stand the thought of going back to this idiot. The next one works out of a "Christian" facility (about half the ones on the list I've got do) but the receptionist said you don't have to be a Christian to be treated there, and seemed shocked when I asked if they evangelized (which was a good thing, that she was shocked, I mean). At this point, I'm asking anything and everything that occurs to me when I make these appointments. It's still a he--the only she on their staff had openings in June. I'm not sure about the rest of my issues; but at least I have the ammunition of knowledge if he starts pushing anticonvulsants on me.

I hate the feeling of not being able to trust one's own doctors.