Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Champix and Chewing Gum #2

Well, I imagine the spin doctors at Pfizer are busy this week, counteracting the news that a side effect of their smoking cessation drug Champix is depression in some clients and perhaps also led to several recent suicides. When it came on the radio news, the kids looked at me like I had something strange growing out of my nose. "I'm okay," I answered. "I'm just fine. JUST FINE."
"Except you've got hair coming out of your nostrils," said Pearlie. "And I don't think much of your mood swings either."

This post is going to be a public patting myself down, okay? I thought I'd list all side effects of my Champix-taking habit of the last six weeks. This way googlers can stumble across it, seeing as Doc is not really interested, unless I stop insisting that she bulk bill me. So here goes.

Last night I solved the world's problems before falling asleep at 2 am. The night before I woke up at 4.30 am and decided it was pointless just lying there, so I got up and started work for the day. My total sleeping hours since I've started taking Champix have been reduced by 25 %. That's right, 25 %. I dream lucidly, vividly, between three and five dreams a night.
Strangely I haven't sprouted hackles or started howling at the moon. Sometimes I am tired but the extra energy from not smoking can counteract this.

I love good food, usually have a cast iron stomach and no allergies.  Now my gut is a cast iron warzone, full of bombs and ... shit. You don't want to know what's going on in there, right now. But I will say that I think my body has developed a sensitivity to dairy and wheat. I am craving sugar and stimulants.

Alcohol does not interest me at all. Champix has been just as effective in suppressing desire for alcohol as it has for nicotine, in fact I suspect it may even make me feel sick, like antabuse or something.

I haven't had a period. In the past six weeks I've gone from a perfect lunar bleeder to nothing. The rest of my girly cycle is exactly the same, just no blood. This side effect is the one I find the most alarming. The others were sort of expected but this one feels like a proverbial canary.

I don't smoke. There's no point smoking when nothing registers in my brain that I need to smoke. Yes, this is weird shit.

I'm angry, angry girl Toa. Like one of those huge freighter ships, I plough on regardless of other craft and take ten nautical miles before I stop. Then I survey all the wreckage and get angry at myself.
I see strange shards of light, on walls or in the air that I never used to see before.
Sometimes I feel, not out of balance, no. Out of kilter, like I'm standing on a funny angle to the ground. It is a strange feeling, a manifestation of emotion and physicality fused.

Am I depressed? Wouldn't have a clue. I do wonder at the suggestion/placebo effect in the news reports about Champix recently. But in reality, after six weeks of not drinking, smoking, bleeding or sleeping, I've got no idea how I feel.


  1. My God Sarah! Thanks for the warning! I'm not too worried about my periods stopping, as I haven't had one for 59 years now anyway, but the rest of it! I think I would rather rely on feeble will-power if ever I attempt to stop smoking.

  2. Thanks Tom! I'm finding it a very interesting time actually ... I can't believe it's been 59 years since your last period - you look so young in your photo. How do you do it?

  3. You should see the picture in the attic, Sarah.

  4. That one made me chuckle Sarah Toa. Not at your expense, well maybe a little. My God is right, that is some heavy shit you are on. I sure hope it works.

    I have this weird theory about a B vitamin and nicotine addiction that I would like you to test for me. No shit, I don't reckon it would do you anywhere near as much harm, B's are water soluble. I will do some more research and run it past you when you have had enough of 'killing' cures.

  5. Is that nicotinomide?
    I know it all sounds very dramatic - I am a bit of a drama queen. At first it was psychedelic nights and days without cravings. But the longer I take the stuff, the stranger things get.

  6. I have a bottle of stuff in my workshop for 'cleaning' stone and marble. I have not dared to use it yet, and I think that I never will because of the disposal problems. You cannot neutralise it, like Dracula.

    It is called by the general name of 'BIOCIDE'. Meaning: It kills everything and anything that it comes into contact with, so long as the thing comes under the general umbrella terminology of 'biological'.

  7. Yes, that's it. I sent you some info in an e-mail about it. Might be worth a try.

    Sounds like a good decision Tom.

  8. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah... this sounds like a terrifying way to give up smoking. How much longer do you think you will have to be on the Champix? Hopefully you will survive the side effects. As for the not drinking... I can recommend it as it feels good and empowering, though I wouldn't recommend my method ie having a near terminal mental breakdown. :)

  9. Yes it does feel good and it's nice being clearer but I miss the cathartic stuff and there is an absence of joy for me right now ... need to dance more methinks. I have to stay on it for another six weeks, well I don't have to ... really. Could always give that up too.

  10. Well... I'd get OFF this stuff ASAP. I am against all these things which 'suppress' a person. Find your will power instead. Yeah, I know you may think "easier said than done" but - side effects this severe is your body telling you THIS STUFF DOES NOT AGREE WITH YOU, get off it!

  11. Yes time to say bye bye to Champix , 6 weeks is long enough to bust the habit , you can always slap an 8 hour patch on if needed , I just used patches for 6 weeks after trying cold turkey doh , I rather be snappy at folk than sleepwalking naked down the street lol

  12. Hello Sarah and good luck giving up smoking or chewing champix...

    I can't say that I understand entirely since I'm not a smoker, but I do imbibe in chocolate and bourbon once in a while (not necessarily at the same time). And if I gave up eating chocolate forever, I know I'd become depressed and bitchy and moody and bitchy...hang in there friend!

    (btw, I need your email address so you can get the blogger invite to Shades of Grey...I don't see one on your profile)


  13. P.S.

    if you link onto my flower photo that's hanging out with my comment, over there >>>>>, I think you can get to my email and send me a note.
    until then,
    peace always

  14. Go the vitamins...B theory is a goodie =I= have also been told Vitamin C is excellent - yet to try it though...still smoking like there's no tomorrow :) ()___)_______)))~~~~

  15. Hey ! Let me introduce myself, I'm a newly non smoking sufferer... Just came across your post while researching side effects re Champix...your life is my life it seems :) I stopped with Champix on 13 MAY 2010 and had exactly the same side effects, and still not smoking. Although missing the wonderfully colorfully ex-aerated crazy dreams, still not having regular stomach functions, still no periods ( doc just diagnosed me with post Menopause, and I'm 41...), so maybe you have something there what concerns post Champix side effects ? Wonder how you're doing? I went on wheat free, now staring dairy free, and I am gob-smacked how unhealthy I feel since stopping smoking. Although I must admit I am relieved for not smoking 1 pack/ day anymore, I fail to see the benefits here. Can't eat unless a nuclear bomb goes off in my stomach....nothing a smoke wouldn't fix...Chris

  16. Thanks for your comment Chris, most enlightening, especially the dreaming thing. Yes I miss it too. How cool was that?
    I started smoking again. I just got sick of being fat and angry.
    Next time ...
    It was an interesting experience. What struck me was how disinterested the doctor was in my side effects or even telling me anything about the drug, which was why I wrote this post.

    41 too - and bleeding again. Though supposedly smoking for a long time can bring on menopause earlier. (?)

    Well done on quitting!

  17. Sarah

    Have your periods returned since finishing champix?
    Mine never did and now 2 years later I'm still getting various tests to figure out what's wrong.

  18. Thanks anon, yes they did return. I've always thought of periods as the proverbial canary, so found it amazing that the doc didn't register it as important.