Did the Mirapex Make Me Do It?

That I have gotten myself into more than $100k of credit card debt is mortifying. I am ashamed of myself. According to debt relief websites, I seem to be in a very small class. The horror stories are usually with people having half my debt. I’m not enjoying being special.

While there are plenty things I can blame, I am prepared to take full responsibility. But it occurs to me that maybe there is something I am not entirely responsible for, though I don’t like that either.

The one thing in particular I need to consider is this: I have been taking Mirapex or, generically, Pramipexole, for many years for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) . I take .67 mg at about 8 p.m. and by 10 I’m usually crawling into bed exhausted. If I don’t take it I just about lose my mind with this horrible feeling of needing to stretch my legs, making it impossible to sleep or be nice to anyone within striking distance. The misery of RLS is impossible to explain to anyone who doesn’t have it.

Over the years there have been reports that Mirapex, especially at doses for Parkinson’s Disease, may trigger compulsive spending, compulsive gambling, and compulsive sexual behavior. For example, there’s a news accounts in 2008, a scientific mention back in 2009, and an article in a neurology journal in 2012. People taking Mirapex can get into a load of trouble. Or to put it scientifically, as the neurology article does:

Impulse control disorders (ICD) (most commonly pathologic gambling, hypersexuality, and uncontrollable spending) and compulsive behaviors can be triggered by dopaminergic therapies in Parkinson disease (PD). ICD are especially prevalent in patients receiving a dopamine agonist as part of their treatment regimen for PD, and have also been reported when dopamine agonists are used for other indications (e.g., restless legs syndrome). Although these iatrogenic disorders are common, affecting 1 in 7 patients with PD on dopamine agonists, they often elude detection by the treating physician. ICD lead to serious consequences, causing significant financial loss and psychosocial morbidity for many patients and families. ICD can appear at any time during treatment with dopamine agonists, sometimes within the first few months, but most often after years of treatment, particularly when patients receive dopamine agonists and levodopa together. In most cases ICD resolve if the dopamine agonist is withdrawn, and PD motor symptoms are managed with levodopa monotherapy. Familiarity with the clinical aspects, risk factors, pathophysiology, and management of ICD is essential for physicians using dopaminergic therapies to treat PD and other disorders.

Okay, yes, I am a bit compulsive, to put it mildly, not with sex or gambling but certainly with the spending plus whatever it is that grabs my attention for days on end. A year ago when I saw my credit card jump $20,000 in two months I went to my neurologist. I lectured him on running through the list of cautionary questions by practically answering for me, “no, you don’t have that.” Uh, well yes I do. We tried an alternative medicine. It made me miserable, was worse than doing nothing. I went back on the Mirapex swearing that I was now so obsessed with getting my house in order that I would be fine.

Well, that didn’t work out so well.

I have to think about what to do. Probably the one thing worse than this horrid debt is untreated RLS. Maybe I’m deluding myself but is it possible that I might blog my way out of this? Maybe I am just too ashamed to confess this to anyone except from behind the anonymity of a blog.

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