I Overdosed on Metformin


I Overdosed on Metformin 

Strong Disclaimer: First, I am self-diagnosing myself as overdosed based on the dosage I was given, instructions for taking said dosage and the Internet. Secondly, I am taking this drug "off label" but under doctors orders. I signed my life away if I had complications with it. I also really cannot officially complain now. Just know I am not a diabetic and the issues I had are not normally associated with the drug outside of its side effects. I will detail all that happened but please know that my experience is mine. If you have taken this drug and have whatever issues that is between you, your doctor and whatever god you worship or don't. I have had a rough ass week so please don't add to it. 

So what is Metformin?

This is a drug typically used by diabetes patients. The drug is sometimes prescribed off label which means for other uses for things like insulin resistance (not diabetic), PCOS, infertility and obesity. The drug is rather controversial as it was designed for one thing but can affect a lot of other things in both good and bad ways. Imagine being diabetic and taking this drug to control your glucose levels and winding up pregnant as it overrides birth control and stimulates egg production. Imagine being terribly underweight and having this drug overhaul your metabolism to where you unintentionally lose more weight. In my particular case it was suggested I take the drug to lose weight, become fertile and address a recent diagnosis of insulin resistance which I am low on that spectrum. While I am overweight and deemed medically obese based on an archaic weight and height chart with my BMI being assumed - I am not a diabetic. I repeat, I am not a diabetic or even pre-diabetic. In other words taking this drug was not advised by a diabetes specialist but I was encouraged by multiple gynecologists and the lab a diabetic specialist sent my blood. Even the hauspraxis doctor suggested I "give it a try". Keyword: try. 

I was always apprehensive. 

I have been asked to take this drug for years and declined multiple times. When I originally said no I felt insulted. I figured instead of a German doctor listening to valid concerns around my infertility I was being told to just take something. I knew a pill of any kind wasn't going to immediately help me or us as a couple and I was especially frightened by doctors suggesting something created for diabetic patients. The last time I declined I was in way better health than I am now. I had lost 15 kilos and was eager to start whatever process for IVF (in vitro fertilization). Unfortunately, for me the doctor that said she would help if I lost that weight had other plans and encouraged me to take this drug as a means to an end. I never saw that doctor again. In the same breath she never called or emailed either. I was nobody to her or her practice so taking some foreign drug felt like I was being put into a study for her sake. Fast forward to now, pandemic heavy and still struggling with things like having a normal cycle and ovulation I was open to trying anything. A new doctor suggested it so I signed on the dotted line. 

Metformin is different. 

I realized the gravity of this undertaking when I was told to sign that release. I was basically saying if something happens to me I waive my rights because I am not taking the drug for its intended purpose. This is also the first time anyone discussed the side effects with me. Metformin is a harsh drug likened to really strong antibiotics. Without delving deep into the science of why people react so negatively to the drug I will just say its main purpose is to purge sugar out of the body. If you combine the pill with a healthy lifestyle, low fiber diet and exercise you may never experience anything bad. However, if you continue to eat sugar from any source even fruit it can attack that unwanted sugar in the gut basically destroying your digestive system and possibly your kidneys and liver. Most commentary around the drug suggested you start taking it at a low dose and increase by the week to find your tolerance. A lot of people spoke of never being able to leave home again. If you weren't running to the bathroom to poop all day you were unable to keep anything down food wise. However, women with PCOS or infertility issues had miracle babies on this drug and it kept them from having gestational diabetes during their pregnancies. The best side effect is you could also lose kilos without trying. So I was sold. 

I did research. 

I did not run out and just begin taking this stuff. I had a proper insulin resistance test done at a local diabetes specialist praxis. I waited for those results to identify if Metformin was actually needed. I then took those results and all documentation to my haustpraxis where they said it was safe to try. I filled the drug at the apotheke but held onto the pills for a week while I stopped taking oral contraceptives (to regulate my system for conception) and sort of readied a schedule for taking it. I was to take it for four weeks under strict orders for dosing and return for a test to see if my insulin resistance changed. The hope was that I would also get pregnant while on it and if not I then had proof that it was unsuccessful to return for IVF. In all this running around I was asked if I had diabetes in my family history or if I had PCOS or other symptoms that warranted the use of this drug. None of that applies to me. So I was truly testing out Metformin knowing that if I had an adverse reaction I openly volunteered for it. 

It started out bad to begin with. 

These are large pills varying from 750mg - 1000mg in active ingredient. My pills say they are 1000mg but are also labeled at 750mg. This stuff is all in German so there's that too. The paperwork provided by both doctors claimed I was to take 850mg-1000mg pills depending on weight. The doctor who suggested it has never weighed me. My Hauspraxis hasn't weighed me in at least two years. But as per usual German doctors have a skewed bias on body types, ethnicities and appearance. To them I am 500 kilos but either way I took them as prescribed with food during specific parts of the day. I immediately had terrible side effects of constant nausea, body aches, extreme fatigue and horrible diarrhea. From that point on I reevaluated every food choice assuming I was taking in too much sugar. This made me lethargic and some times feint. I basically turned into a diabetic overnight struggling with constant thirst, increased urination and the need of restoration from a piece of candy or a glass of OJ. I would struggle to open a bottle of juice and be so desperate I would wake my husband in the middle of the night to help me. It was getting out of hand. I turned to online forums for help in English and basically everyone admitted to having similar if not worse symptoms. There was some good advice around taking the pill in the middle of your heaviest meals and spacing it around activities where you may be inconvenienced by the lack of a restroom. I found that doing this gave me a bit more quality of life but I was still suffering a bit much for the overall purpose of taking it. We stocked the house with baby juice and Powerade. I honestly felt like death all the time from lack of energy and depletion. 

The spaced out dosing was supposed to help but it didn't. 

Week three was like punishment as the last two weeks dosages almost killed me. I decided to re-do week two dosing again before attempting week three. Technically by my official fourth week I tried the week three dosage again but ultimately decided to take a week off. I did that and promptly returned to week three dosing out of guilt. I start everything on a Sunday and it was probably the hardest week ever but I also had to get tested again to see results. I figured I would give it another week or so and maybe I would be advised not to take it anymore. I got the bloodwork but then the doctor claimed he would close through New Years so I wouldn't have results until January. So the next week I started week four dosing which was two of this ambiguously marked 750mg to 1000mg pill twice a day - my largest dose yet. Sunday I didn't feel so hot but it was more of the same side effects - random bathroom experiences, nausea and fogginess. Monday morning I was a tad more out of it but felt like food helped and by that evenings second pill I was practically dead. I was already sleeping a lot to a point I could barely walk my dog. I had become completely inactive. However, now I was passing out without realizing it. That particular evening I couldn't get my bearings straight, open the refrigerator door, or pour a glass of water and I felt like I was losing myself. I went back to the internet in the morning and found that you should take no more than 1000mg of Metformin total per day. Technically, I had been overdosing myself for over a week already. To combat the side effects I was barely eating, drinking multiple liters of water and after a lot of bathroom trips I was showering 2 to 3 times a day in this winter weather. I was slowing going into the stages of toxicity which can be fatal. It starts with being loopy, passing out etc. and moves into complete renal failure then death. I felt like I was somewhere in the middle. 

The final straw.

I looked over all the documentation given to me. While the dosing and instructions are merely a form letter given to everyone prescribed Metformin for fertility both doctors confirmed it was okay for me. They both explained how to half the pill but that was only for week one and two of dosing. Going forward I would take either a whole pill and a half or two whole pills. One pill was 100mg shy of a high dose for a person with average weight i.e. a woman or someone on a small frame. Taking up to 1000mg would be for someone who is male and or morbidly obese. I started taking more than 1000mg on the 20th of December. On the 29th is when I realized my mistake. During that time I was basically immobile. I rarely left home and whenever I did I was always on edge about being sick in public. I had begun devouring nausea pills, ibuprofen and more. I also had an adverse reaction with my cycle where I bled for over twenty days. In reading, most women experienced the opposite and were thankful to Metformin for providing them relief or a regulated cycle. For me I was miserable for a good month. I was so ashamed I was even taking it in the first place I didn't want to make waves. I also kept reading stories of miracle pregnancies which I feel is worth whatever torture. So I continued to take these large doses and experience horrific side effects and toxicity like an idiot. I really did overdose on it. 

I Hate It Here™️

The lesson learned here is there is no amount of advocacy and awarenesses I can bring to a doctors visit here in Germany. I asked questions. I did everything right. I listened to everyone. I understood everything. And I still wound up having a negative almost fatal experience. It has taken me days to flush this mess out of my system and I will never take it again. Never! While I have been taking and doing every hokey thing to get pregnant there are plenty more I still haven't tried. The goal after this is to just continue going the natural route with vitamins and supplements like Geritol and Maca Root. If this pandemic ever ends I can totally return to the gym and do the hard part of losing weight on my own. But I am no longer open to random medical suggestions that do not involve standard operating procedure. I guess at this point I will just make demands for the things more women in my situation automatically get without having to beg ... compassion and solutions. This was a sort of detour in my journey and an awful disruption to trying to conceive. I neglected a lot of things, scared the shit out of my husband and ultimately took nine whole days out of my life and for what. Now if somehow, someway I wind up with twins after this incident I will give credit where it is due. But if you aren't a typed diabetic who needs this drug I wouldn't recommend it for trial runs on hopes and dreams. I would say steer clear of it. I mean what makes you throw up for eating an apple. I should have known. 

So yeah that is why I have been a little sporadic here and everywhere. I saw the light. I am taking raspberry ketones to get my energy up and B12 to reset. And I am slowly returning back to my former self. More on German doctors, navigating visits and advocating for ones self - Stay Tuned.