It's not a fun way to go through life, but at 53 years of age, I've adapted, which in most cases meant either staying on the sidelines and watching my family and friends go on rides at amusement parks, or keeping a barf bag nearby when I fly. I've taken Dramamine for decades and it helps, but doesn't eliminate motion sickness for me.
I feel like this sign was made specifically for me.
Because of this, I usually only get to go on one ride at an amusement park, and it's almost a guarantee that I'll spend several hours afterward trying to recover from motion sickness - which is what happened three years ago when we went on the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride - I didn't even make it though the ride before feeling terribly motion sick. I didn't want to miss out on the rides on our latest trip to Orlando, and I also didn't want to waste my days feeling sick, so I decided to try the Transderm Scop motion sickness patch. I asked my doctor for a prescription, telling her what I wanted it for. She said that it either works beautifully, or I would know right away if it wasn't going to help. Still, it was worth a try, especially for a trip where we had six days of theme park rides planned.
I have to say that I had a bit of sticker shock (no pun intended) when I picked up the patches at the pharmacy - I paid $60 for four of them!!! But, I reasoned, if they worked, then they would totally be worth it. I applied the first patch in the early morning before our flight to Orlando, and didn't do the greatest job getting it behind my ear, but it was close enough:
Only picture I got of the patch, but after this one, I managed to put it closer to the back of my ear.
The airplane ride was fine - no motion sickness there. The next morning would be the real test - the Escape From Gringotts ride at Universal Studios. You guys. I went on it and got to enjoy the ride, the entire ride, with my eyes open! No squeezing them shut, trying desperately to not get sick - I got to ride the ride like a normal person! And then? We went on another ride. And another. It was a freaking miracle. I had a little hesitation before a couple of the rides, like this one:
Rip Ride Rockit - I went on this and didn't get motion sick!!!
Story of my life, normally - but I went on this ride and did not hurl!
Nothing made me sick, although there were a few rides (Dueling Dragons, and the Rockit ride) that I only rode once, while Jeff and the kadults went back for more, but I actually felt good - I just didn't want to tempt fate, or push the powers of the patch too far. Because we doing such extreme rides every day, I followed the directions for the patch to a T, changing it out for a new one every three days. For the first time in my life, I was able to go on amusement park rides and not be sick. I got to enjoy our vacation without dealing with motion sickness. It truly was a miracle and I was prepared to come back and blog all about how wonderful the Transderm Scop motion sickness patch was.
But, here's the thing. We flew home on a Saturday, and on Sunday, I removed the last patch. I unpacked, did laundry, and wrote my first blog post about the vacation. Everything was fine until mid-morning on Monday, when I suddenly had a headache and felt like I was motion sick - in my own house. I felt awful, and actually vomited. I laid down after that and hoped that whatever bug I might have would pass. Nope. I still felt awful for the rest of the day - every time I moved, I felt motion sick. But I thought it must be a type of flu, maybe, although I did double-check the side effects of the patch, just to be sure. My symptoms didn't match what were listed in the package insert, and I continued to feel terrible. Finally, Allie happened to call on Tuesday evening just as I was starting to feel like I was going to vomit yet again, and because I kept saying how I felt like I was motion sick, suggested that I take a Dramamine, so I did - and within about 30 minutes, I felt better. Not perfect, but less sick.
I Googled more on the patch and side effects, and eventually hit on the correct search word: withdrawal. I was experiencing withdrawal from the Scopolamine patch. The most detailed article I found is linked here, but basically it said that once you stop using the patch - and this is exacerbated the longer you've been using the patch - all of the motion sickness receptors that were blocked by the medicine come on full force. So I wasn't crazy - I was, in fact, experiencing motion sickness! And oh man, it was BAD. The article talked about patients getting some relief by taking a medicine called Meclizine, and when I Googled that, I discovered that it's a form of anti-emetic, much like Dramamine, although Dramamine has a different active ingredient. Still, that would explain why I felt better when I took the Dramamine.
I only had a few Dramamine remaining; the next day I went to the store to buy more and found a bottle of generic Meclizine next to the Dramamine - I think the bottle of 100 pills cost less than three bucks, which is a lot cheaper than Dramamine, so I bought it. I didn't think I'd need 100 pills, but that price was too good to pass up. As it turned out, I ended up taking two Meclizine pills several times a day for about a week - every time I'd try to cut back to just one per dose, the motion sickness would return. This didn't erase my symptoms, but it did make life tolerable for me. I was finally able to stop taking the Meclizine after day 10 or day 11 - I can't remember exactly, but I needed it for a long time. Good thing I bought the big bottle!
I'm writing about this because I wanted you to know that what happened to me - experiencing extreme withdrawal from using the patch - was actually avoidable, had I known that there was a possibility of this occurring. In reading further, and in talking with friends, I realized that I might have been OK had I simply left that last patch on for at least a week. Knowing how horribly affected I was, I'd probably go ahead and take the Meclizine as well, although I bet I could get away with only taking one pill per dose, since I wouldn't be in extreme withdrawal with the patch still on.
Would I use the motion sickness patch again? Yes - for big things, like amusement park rides, or a very long and winding drive through the mountains, or a cruise. It worked beautifully for me. It was only when I stopped using it that things went so bad. And now I know - and you do, as well - what to do in order to avoid getting motion sickness after you're done with the patch.