Black hole phobias and baggage retrieval concerns aside, 2019 has provided plenty of material for me to stew over. And when your D&D alignment is Lawful Worrier, you don’t really need a large portion of angst to get a good ol’ knot in the stomach rolling (or is that roiling?).
But 2019 has definitely been the year that giveth when it comes to bad news, and halfway into the year it has started to take its toll.
In particular, the irrational fears gnawing away at me have made it difficult to sleep. Difficult enough that I ended up with a prescription for Ambien.
The doctor’s thinking went something like this:
Basically, the expectation is if I can finally manage to get a decent night’s sleep, I might be able to snap out of it.
Why am I blathering on about this? Because it’s important to convey to you that I’ve been prescribed sleeping pills to help with my anxiety.
Which leads us to the side effects of Ambien, or, in my case, the generic version called zolpidem tartrate. This is all straight from the information sheet provided to me by the pharmacist along with the pills themselves:
After taking zolpidem tartrate tablets, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night. (Emphasis theirs, and it case you can’t tell, that whole thing is in bold!). Reported activities include:
- driving a car (“sleep-driving”) Holy F*ck! And come to think of it, I had a friend who sleep-drove naked while on this! I weep for my neighbors.
- making and eating food OK, that doesn’t seem so bad…unless I’ve sleep-driven to the drive-thru and didn’t bring enough cash (BECAUSE I’M NAKED!!!!).
- talking on the phone Hello there, Mom. It’s 2am. Do you know where your kids are? Besides me, obviously, since I’m on the phone with you.
- having sex Also doesn’t sound so bad, except bummer that I won’t remember. Wait, who am I having sex with? That’s an important detail!
- sleep-walking Compared to the rest of this crap, that seems downright tame. It’s not like I’m apt to start using trapezes without a net…right?
So there I am, having gotten through the side effects list, feeling understandably…anxious. But hey, no problem, I tell myself. Just hide the car keys, my cell phone, warn the Missus about surprise conjugal efforts, maybe barricade the bedroom and/or refrigerator door. And strap on a parachute, in case I find my way into a Cirque du Soleil show.
But then I kept reading the info sheet, more out of curiosity than anything else since I’d understandably, having read to the end of the list, thought I’d gotten through the side effects section.
Expect it turns out I hadn’t. The initial list of side effects was on page one. The continuing list of side effects was on page three. And in between? A lot of dry material about calling your doctor if anything weird happens, how to safely use the medicine, etc. You know, standard boiler plate: don’t take with alcohol or while operating heavy machinery and the like. So I can be forgiven thinking I was done with things that might go wrong and kill me.
Buried on page three is where the manufacturer listed the “most common” side effects (shouldn’t the most common stuff be on the first page???), and at this point things got a little surreal. Either that or Big Pharma is screwing with me.
So what are the most common side effects of Ambien née zolpidem tartrate? Allow me to enlighten you:
- drowsiness Um…OK? Are you sure that isn’t a primary effect of a…sleeping pill?
- dizziness I suppose that isn’t too shocking. You’re really tired after taking the pill, probably gonna have a balance issue…
- diarrhea Will I, should the urgent need arise, go to the bathroom in my sleep to prevent an unpleasant mess/embarrassing episode, or will drowsiness and dizziness prevent me from preventing a horrible incident?
- grogginess or feeling as if you have been drugged What the actual f*ck! Are you trying to tell me that if I take a drug designed to make me sleep, I will feel tired and drugged? No way! How is that possible? How on Earth could the FDA possibly let you market a sleep aid drug that makes you…GULP…sleep, but at the same time have a distance suspicion that maybe, just maybe, you took a drug to get that way?
So at this point I honestly don’t know whether to feel worried about this drug or be looking around for the hidden cameras capturing my reaction to the absurdity of this moment.
The only thing I do know is that the thought of taking this pill to help me deal with my anxiety is making me…anxious.