Last fall I was in my doctor’s office with a list of problems only a hypochondriac could appreciate. Topping that list was my chronic fatigue, brain fog and my inability to lose any weight. My most bothersome symptoms raised enough red flags for her to explore more. She ordered a battery of blood tests, including thyroid, A1C, B-12, and vitamin D.
The results from the blood tests were fairly unremarkable. My thyroid was normal, my A1c was sort of within range, my B-12 and vitamin D levels were both low (as they have been historically).
To address the lack of weight loss, she advised I visit a nutritionist and recommended the book The New Sugar Busters: Cut Sugar to Trim Fat. I was already familiar with the book. In fact, I read an older version years ago at the height of the no-carb craze. She also mentioned a new weight loss drug called Contrave and asked if I was interested.
Feeling desperate – and if I’m being honest, also depressed – I was definitely interested.
She explained that Contrave worked differently than previous weight loss drugs that had once been FDA approved. Contrave was made up of bupropion and naltrexone which affected the brain chemistry and not the heart. She even thought that the naltrexone would even help give me a boost in energy.
I picked up the prescription and put it away in my medicine cupboard. I wanted to read the pamphlet and research the internet to see if anyone had any early experience with the drug. Admittedly, I was worried about taking bupropion again. Bupropion is an anti-depressant and while I didn’t have nearly the problems weaning from Bupropion XL as I had from Effexor XR, I was still apprehensive in messing with anti-depressants again.
But, I woke up Thanksgiving morning and decided that it was time to start the Contrave. I had just received the blood test results and that A1C level really bothered me. But that’s for another blog post.
I took one pill as advised and set forth on our day. The plans for Thanksgiving were a lazy morning, a long family walk, small lunch and early dinner with family.
I felt great at first. I don’t remember eating breakfast that morning but guzzled a coffee while out on our walk. By lunch, I was hangry and a little bit nauseous. I chalked it up to not eating anything. An early Thanksgiving dinner ended up being later than expected and I felt downright miserable. Even after eating, I remember feeling just plain awful. I suffered silently the whole car ride home and just wanted to get in bed. Nauseous and dizzy. I lay in bed that night telling myself that I would feel better by morning knowing that what I felt was not normal.
That experience made me feel awful enough not to take Contrave again. Until last weekend.
Like childbirth, we are able to forget horrible feelings. I knew that my first experience with Contrave wasn’t a great one but maybe I did something wrong. Like, not eating breakfast. Drinking too much coffee. Or waiting too long to eat dinner. I definitely knew I would try again but wanted to make sure it was a day that I didn’t have commitments, in case it made me feel yucky again.
Last Sunday morning, I decided it was the day to try it again. Desperation and depression continue to be really great motivators for me.
I ate a good breakfast and popped one pill. I didn’t drink any coffee that morning. I felt tons of energy at first, did a bunch of house chores and then sat down to work on the computer. After about two hours, I started to feel a little bit shaky. I noticed it was close to lunch. I wasn’t feeling hungry but knew I’d better eat something considering my last experience.
Well, lunch came and went, if you know what I mean. I was dizzy, sweaty, and horribly nauseous. I was so sick the entire rest of the day. There I was again, laying in bed, vowing to never take Contrave again.
There is something about my chemistry and this drug that just do not work together. The Contrave site does list the side effects with nausea, headache, dizziness and vomiting being the most common.
In the end, I should have known better. I know that there isn’t a quick fix for weight loss. There isn’t a magic pill, even one prescribed by a doctor. It’s maybe time to visit that nutritionist and exercise regularly and stick to a plan.