I gave Jacquelynn her final Risperidone today.
It is this drug, this teeny-tiny pill, which was prescribed to her in March to curb what I came to call her “episodes” or “disconnects”, but which the hospital dubbed “psychotic breaks”. Risperidone is an antipsychotic drug designed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability caused by autism. Some drug websites state that it is strictly not to be used to treat behavior problems in patients with dementia, but others tout this as its primary function.
The “funny” thing is that, of all the things this drug is supposedly designed to prevent, each and every one of them is also listed as a potential side effect. She’s experienced a few of them, and while they’ve generally been assumed to have other sources, I’m intrigued to see if some of them (the muscular twitches, in particular) reduce or even disappear entirely as the drug leaves her system.
Be all of that as it may, today she took her last one. It is hoped and expected that she has come far enough along in her treatment cycle that it will no longer be necessary.
Yes, we are aware of the potential effects of cold-turkey cessation. To tell the truth, she was off it a bit over a week a couple of months ago, and we had only one very minor scare, for which even then I knew I was fully responsible.
If you read my previous post The Other Side Of Dementia, then you recall my terrors over these episodes. It’s a huge leap of faith from this point to assume that we’ve reached the point that the meds are no longer necessary, but we have stated from the outset that so-called “maintenance meds” are not part of our long-term plan, and leaving this prescription behind is necessary on both a medical and a personal level.
Don’t think I’m making this decision on my own, though. I am talking with Dr. Ross’ office Monday, and if they believe that she should stay on it for a while longer, she’ll call in a refill and we’ll dutifully take it. I’m no doctor and I don’t make medical decisions lightly or without professional input.
But I do believe in my heart we are, she is ready to move beyond it.
Keep her in your thoughts, please. If you pray, we’d be grateful if you would do so.