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Diet Pills: 21 years of experience
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 5:10 am Email this article
A woman shares her 21 years of experience with diet pills.
Debra Burnett, a mother of three from Chelan, Washington has taken diet pills for 21 years. "I'm 5' 1" tall and started out weighing about 140 lbs," Debra recalls.
Starting in 1974 she was prescribed amphetamines for two years. “My weight dropped to 96 lbs,” Debra recalls. “I didn’t stick to any diet plan, I just took the pills whenever I gained a few pounds and they took away my hunger.” But as many early diet pill users remember amphetamines tended to make people feel hyperactive. “I was doing things like folding paper sacks and washing ceilings in the middle of the night,” Debra laughs. “It was crazy.”
Her doctor prescribed phentermine along with the amphetamines. “Phentermine was a 4 o’clock pill. I took the amphetamine in the morning and the phentermine at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”
Then in 1976 she stopped the amphetamines but continued taking the phentermine. “For the next 10 years I continued taking the phentermine as I needed it,” Debra remembers. “I maintained my weight in what I considered to be my ideal range, between 113 and 118 lbs.” Then in 1985 she stopped taking the medicine and gained weight after becoming pregnant with her third child. After the birth she needed to lose about 40 lbs. However, she found it difficult finding a doctor who would write her a prescription which certainly reflected the attitudes about diet pills at that time. “When I finally found one, he would only give me the phentermine while I was losing weight,” Debra reflects. “So after I lost 30 lbs, he took me off the drug and slowly I gained it all back. Then we did it all again. I was losing and gaining, losing and gaining. The doctor didn’t seem to care, but it was very frustrating for me. I was trying my best to keep the weight off. I was working out at a gym three times a week and walking two miles per day, but the weight always came back.”
That’s when she realized that her brain or body seemed to work differently than that of a naturally thin person. “I realized that my brain processed information about food differently than others. The phentermine helped me maintain my weight. Without it I simply couldn’t keep the weight off, no matter how hard I tried.”
Some people assume serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil will cause weight loss because they raise serotonin levels like fenfluramine. However, studies of SSRIs have not shown them to be very effective. Debra found this out the hard way. “My doctor tried me on Paxil to raise my serotonin levels, but I gained 19 lbs. It didn’t work for me.”
As with any drug there are possible side effects, interactions and idiosyncrasies. “I usually don’t have any side effects, but sometimes I get dry mouth or feel speedy,” Debra notes. She has also found that alcohol and phentermine don’t mix. “If I have a drink on Friday night I skip my phentermine on Saturday or else it will make me feel sick. It also doesn’t work before my period.”
Finding a doctor.
Debra recently switched physicians following the retirement of her doctor, but it took some searching. “I looked in the Fen-Phen news group on America OnLine. It seems like a lot of people are having trouble finding doctors to prescribe the medicines. I finally found an informed doctor who has studied the medicines and understands my struggle.”
A sense of control.
As Fen-Phen users often describe the medicine gives her a sense of control over what she eats. “It gives me time to make the right choices,” Debra says. “I take the time to make healthier meals and make better choices. When I wasn’t taking the medicine I ate whatever was quick and easy. Dinner might have been potato chips, cottage cheese and a glass of milk. I just ate whatever was there.”
She continues taking phentermine on an as-needed-basis. “I hope that more doctors become educated about the medicines,” she adds. “They are not a `magic bullet’ and you can certainly `out eat’ the medicines and gain weight. It still takes work to eat healthy, but the medicines makes that part of my life less time consuming and less stressful. Like I said, it helps me make better choices about what I put in my mouth.”
Articles on the same subject can be found here:
On Feb 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm Adeline wrote:
. . . . .
Debra Burnett has a story similar to mine. I'm 4'11". Overweight, Bad Knees. My mom was overweight, bad knees and in the end she couldn't do anything for herself. She tried to use a walker to walk to the bathroom, and dislocated her shoulder. She didn't tell anybody about the shoulder pain until it was too late. I'm sorry if this makes you sad. There are so many diseases associated with being overweight. It's overwhelming. The diet pill I take no longer works. I've developed a tollerence. What a shame.
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