...many years ago, my husband and I went to a comedy show while on a trip. It was really fun and the comedians were pretty funny. One in particular was hysterical; I laughed until my stomach ached. During the evening however, I noticed my husband didn't laugh much. At times he gave a short bark of laughter and then put his head on the table. I assumed that he just wasn't that amused. After the show, when asked, he insisted that he had actually had a great time. He certainly sounded sincere, but I just didn't understand why he didn't laugh much. Now of course, I shake my head, imagining what torture that must have been for him! Prolonged laughter makes my husband collapse, where he remains frozen for several minutes. So suppressing his laughter for a couple of joke-filled hours would have been the only way to prevent a cataplectic attack - which I'm sure would have led to a huge scene and major embarrassment.
In my mind, my husband's cataplexy is pretty bad. But apparently, not bad enough. On a recent visit with his sleep specialist, my husband again asked about the drug Xyrem. Xyrem is used to treat cataplexy, and since my husband still has attacks, we thought we should look into it. To our surprise, his doctor seemed extremely reluctant to prescribe it. He mentioned that it was a "pain" to take, and really only prescribed to patients with severe cases of cataplexy. My husband and I were both taken aback. Sure, we know that there are those whose cataplexy is much, much worse, but we were shocked to hear that my husband's cataplexy is actually considered "mild." After further discussion, he recommended a different drug, which my husband is now taking and with much success so far (more on that drug later). We were intrigued with the information about Xyrem, though. That visit prompted me to do a little research:
Xyrem - "XYREM is a medication approved for the treatment of excessive (too much) daytime sleepiness and the treatment of cataplexy (weak or paralyzed muscles), both in patients with narcolepsy." That description is from the website. From those I've spoken to who currently take Xyrem, they admit that taking it before bed and then waking up to take a second dose can be troublesome. I also didn't know that it was a liquid drug.
I'm also now researching more extreme cases of cataplexy. I know of a few, but they are still very similar to my husband's. If you know of anyone whose cataplexy is a constant interruption, email me or post a comment here.
So for now, Xyrem isn't an option. After the research we've done however, maybe that isn't a bad thing.