Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 1: Off Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid

As noted last time, I was going to end my use of TUDCA when the bottle ran out, which would happen shortly after my Azilect 8-week-maximum-improvement window had ended. The window closed two Thursdays ago (1/15/15). My bottle of TUDCA ran out on the following Saturday, 1/17/15.

Consequently I've now been off TUDCA for a week. I figured it would be good to give a weekly update on any changes I've noticed.

By way of reminder, the plan is to see if being off TUDCA results in a loss of symptomatic improvements I experienced after using TUDCA to distinguish whether it was TUDCA or a second burst of benefits from taking Azilect that caused them. Now that the Azilect window is past, there is slim to no chance of any further improvements from it. I'll go for a maximum of 8 weeks--the time I can be sure all the TUDCA is out of my system--with no significant loss of symptom improvements before deciding the improvements came from Azilect. At any time before that, if I experience significant symptom improvement losses, I'll know that TUDCA was the likely source of improvements.

If the latter happens, I'll then resume using TUDCA and note if the improvements return. I'll also do some dosage increases to see at what point it no longer improves symptoms. If improvements return upon restarting it, that further solidifies that TUDCA was the cause of the improvements.

What I'll do is take each of the symptom improvements I listed on day 5, and using the scale of 1 to 10 (1 = symptom is horrible, 10 = symptom is near or at normal), relative to my experience, I'll give a weekly rating which will show a history of movement for each noted symptom improvement. Following that will be any comments if needed.

So, here we go!

Week 1 After I Stopped Using TUDCA


Low bass notes became functional again

Pre-Azilect: 3
Post-Azilect: 3
With TUDCA: 10
Week 1 off TUDCA: 6

This was the first symptomatic improvement to happen after starting TUDCA, and as you can see, it was dramatic. On day two of taking it, suddenly I could solidly hit the low notes I used to be able to hit before PD came on the scene. It was a complete surprise to me as no medication had changed that. No amount of dopamine had improved it. So I wasn't even thinking about it as something to watch for. Because of this, I felt this symptom improvement could fairly certainly be ascribed to TUDCA because there's nothing Azilect could have done to regain that ability. All it does is allow the dopamine in your body to not breakdown as fast, and so it lasts longer and allows for more buildup as you pump more in via Sinemet.

Early this past week, I noticed I had difficulty getting back down to those low notes. But if I worked at it, I could do it, but the notes were not as solid. This was confirmed while singing in church this Sunday morning, I couldn't hit the lower notes as solidly and with as much volume. Not quite as bad yet as pre-TUDCA, but obviously moving in that direction.

Cogwheel motion

Pre-Azilect: 4
Post-Azilect: 5
With TUDCA: 8
Week 1 off TUDCA: 6

I've noticed a little more difficulty in using my left hand for general movement tasks than while on TUDCA. Key indicator was while washing my hair, my left hand wasn't as able to keep up with my right hand in smoothness and completeness of scrubbing my scalp. A touch of jerkiness appeared.

Typing speed and ease

Pre-Azilect: 4
Post-Azilect: 6
With TUDCA: 8
Week 1 off TUDCA: 7

It's become more frequent as the week moved on, but more periods where typing was difficult. There were times it felt as hard as it did pre-Azilect. The periods when I felt I could type with minimal impedance grew fewer.

Dystonia

Pre-Azilect: 4
Post-Azilect:5
With TUDCA: 8
Week 1 off TUDCA: 6

By the end of the week, I was feeling it more than I had been, in general, while on TUDCA.

Tremors in left hand

Pre-Azilect: 3
Post-Azilect: 5
With TUDCA: 9
Week 1 off TUDCA: 7

Sometimes it is fine, but there are times it has some shaking going on. More so toward the end of the week.

Toe-curling

Pre-Azilect: 4
Post-Azilect: 5
With TUDCA: 7
Week 1 off TUDCA: 6

There was a period while taking TUDCA I could have given it a 9. But in general, I only noticed a slight improvement. Probably due to the increased dyskenisa in my left calf muscle making it hard to indentify changes. That and the sore on my left toe next to the little toe from the toenail fungus giving me pain when any pressure is put on it.

I've noticed only a little change this past week, but that could be my imagination, thus the small amount of change. It is possible I could have kept it near a 7. Future weeks might reveal more, but it is also possible this one will jump around. Some days are better than others. The last few days I'd even say were a 7 or maybe a bit better. I had some problems standing this Sunday morning, but as the service went on, it seemed to settle down some, the dyskenisia that is. It seems when the dyskenisia isn't as bad in that leg, the toe curling does better. So how much is the lack of TUDCA or the dyskenisia from Azilect and Sinemet is hard to nail down.

That's my status for week 1 after no longer taking TUDCA. It does appear that I've lost some symptom improvements, at least in part. Future weeks should give a clearer picture whether these will continue downward or bounce back up due to a circumstance in this past week causing their negative movement. I figure I'll need 3-4 weeks of data before making a determination that the downward trend indicates the improvements were from TUDCA.

But if the loss of low bass notes is any indication, it isn't looking good for Azilect right now. The next two weeks should show if there is any definitive trend. Until next Sunday night/Monday morning, have a great week!

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