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Going Off the Pill
a blog by Melinda Davis, June 29, 2011
I married my college sweetheart in 2003, and we agreed we would wait five years before trying to get pregnant. I had always dreamed of being a mom and was so excited to see our family grow.
In 2005 I started developing dizzy spells and brief moments of darkness. I would be in the middle of a normal conversation when all of a sudden things would go dark. I could still hear the person talking and could carry on the conversation, but I would lose my vision and feel my body going limp. I quickly learned if I placed my hand on a nearby desk, counter or wall, I could hold myself up until the moment passed and I regained my vision.
In 2006 my moments went from brief moments of darkness to actually passing out. One night my husband and I were sitting in the floor, watching TV and eating dinner when all of a sudden everything went dark. I came to with my husband holding my shoulders, staring me in the face, and repeatedly shouting my name. I asked him what had happened, and he said that I passed out. He asked if we should go to the hospital, but at that point I was feeling fine and asked to just lay down for a bit. He reluctantly agreed, settled me on the couch, got me a glass of water, and watched my every move.
A few weeks and blackout episodes later I finally went to the hospital. After a series of tests and visits to a neurologist for further testing, I was diagnosed with epilepsy ... or at least that’s what they concluded. I was handed a prescription by the neurologist and was told if I take the medication then I would be fine.
My husband and I didn’t have much confidence in my neurologist, so before taking the medication we decided to do a little research. We looked up the medication online and found a long list of scary side effects. We learned through our research that the medication would negate my birth control, so we decided I would go off the birth control pill, hold off on taking the medication and seek out a second opinion from the best neurologist at John’s Hopkins.
A month later we went to my appointment, and the first thing the doctor did was ask both of us questions. He wanted to know everything we noticed when an episode would occur from both of our perspectives. This was the first time anyone had done this, and we immediately felt that I was in good hands.
The doctor ran the same series of tests my previous neurologist had done and immediately received the results. He called us both into the room, and asked if I had done anything different since my previous test. We explained the only thing that had changed was that I had gone off the pill because the medication I had been prescribed would have negated it. He proceeded to tell us that after comparing the scan from a month ago to the one he had just taken that I definitely did not have epilepsy. He said, in fact, he thought I just needed to increase my sodium intake. He explained that if I simply stay off birth control and drink a single high sodium sports drink a day, then I should be just fine.
We left the doctor that day with a sense of relief. We felt someone finally had taken the time needed to question, examine and review all of the options available to make me better, and we decided that since I had to go off the pill anyway, maybe this was our time to start our family.