My War on Drugs: Part 1

My War on Drugs: Part 1

After 7 years of prescribing Duragesic and Percocet, my doctor discharged me without notice....

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My toes dug into the well-padded forest green carpet that extended the length of the bathroom as I reached with shaking hands towards the towel rack to pull my purple bath sheet down to cover my nakedness.

My legs spasmed out. I pulled them tight into myself in a fetal position trying without success to control the jerking.

The next spasm nearly kneed me in my naked chest. My undergarments had been discarded at the base of the toilet when my stomach began to spasm uncontrollably.

I was one colossal spasm. I cried.

I prayed for it to stop.

Pain previously unimaginable seemed to take over my body. Struggling to contain my shivering, I closed my eyes and prayed once again that the pain in my lower abdomen would stop. Once the spasms slowed, I crawled the short distance from the master bathroom of the single-wide trailer into my bed where I continued to shiver and shake.

It was August 2009. I was experiencing the results of physical dependence on an opioid medication that had become unavailable to me after my physician discharged me without notice. I was experiencing what I had feared for more than seven years: I was in withdrawal.

Seven years before, in late autumn 2002, I visited my family doctor for continuing pelvic pain six months after my third bladder surgery. My urologist had discharged me with a mysterious malady by the name of "interstitial cystitis" as a diagnosis, but no one seemed to know exactly what it was.

My family doctor had been prescribing a large number of generic Vicodin every month in an attempt to control my continuing pelvic pain. They didn't help my IBS. My irritable bowel didn't make my bladder happy either. The sleep that the combination of opioids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication brought was fitful and I was waking several times a night not only to use the bathroom (another symptom of interstitial cystitis) but also to take pain medication.

After months of very little sleep, I went to see my doctor. She suggested a pain medication I wouldn't have to consciously take continually. My family doctor assured me of minimal side-effects. I had no idea; then my body was beginning a seven-year dependence on the most powerful opioid prescribed. That medication was Duragesic, a brand name of fentanyl.

I wanted relief from pain, but even with the patch I changed every three days it was necessary to take Vicodin as a "breakthrough pain" medication. Breakthrough pain means that extreme discomfort that is felt even when using a medication for a chronic or somewhat 'stable' level of pain. When Vicodin damaged my inner ears, I was changed to Percocet.

With each increase in dosage, I became more frustrated and more irritable. My mood changes necessitated the addition of antidepressants. Then anti-anxiety medications and additional antidepressants were prescribed to assist with sleep. In 2008, when my daughter graduated from high school, I was taking 19 different prescribed pills and one patch every day. Most of the pills were for the side-effects of the patches or other pills.

Most of my life I had wanted to be a doctor. When I was a child, I wanted to be a James Herriott. When I became a mom at 17, then again at 19, I settled on the one medical job I could train for without a waiting list at my local community college: Medical Assistant. Medical research became a hobby when chronic illnesses hit my oldest son and husband. I respected the medical field; I was comfortable there. I had worked in both of the local hospitals and for a local doctor before life circumstances necessitated me retraining in the computer programming field.

I worked for the State of Washington as a programmer for seven years before the pain in my lower abdomen became the focus of my existence. My life had been reduced to living in my bed and in the bathroom. I stared at a television playing reruns of shows I used to enjoy, now checked out by the season from the library. A sad nostalgia I shared with the shows. I prayed daily for it to end. Then a friend asked me if I had ever tried 'pot' for my pain.

I responded I didn't believe in medical marijuana. "They're just using it as an excuse to get high. Not that I don't think cancer patients should get high as much as they want." I joked, not having a clue how misinformed I was.

My friend frankly pointed out I had already lost what I had previously thought of as a life. I had become disabled from the brain changes the fentanyl caused. I was angry all the time. I yelled at my teenagers and husband in my frustration as my teenage son took over dinner preparation. I lived in bed. I had no more life left.

(Continued with part 2 here)

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A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.
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Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

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The Things I Found At Rock Bottom

It was the darkest, but the dawn did come.

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About 3 months ago, my whole life was uprooted by a breakup.

My ex ended a relationship with me very suddenly that I had the full intention of being in for the rest of my life, and even thought I knew it was a necessary loss, coming down from that high and detoxing our toxic relationship from my system was the hardest thing I have ever been through. There was a day I finished up in class and zoned out and started driving, until I found myself three hours away from home. I didn't eat for days, and I woke up every day having panic attacks when I remembered everything that had happened. The first few weeks were a dark, horrible blur, with pain at levels I would never wish on anyone. On top of that, I was also forced to move an hour away from home and quit a job that I loved as a result of the breakup.

I wasn't just losing a person, I was losing everything that I built my identity up to be. Our relationship was my whole life, and that's why I knew that us breaking up was necessary, but that didn't take away the two and a half years of memories I was left with. He also chose to end it in such a violent and excruciating way — telling me he never loved me, cutting off all contact with me, and basically telling me to kill myself. Sitting in the rubble of all of this, I had never felt so empty and void of happiness before.

But when you're completely shattered and sitting in nothing but rubble, you're presented with a beautiful opportunity — a blank canvas. There are no morning and night routines laid out for you, you don't have the same people texting you as before, you don't have the good morning text that you were used to. You have nothing. Because of these things, your own interests and desires become the default setting you're programmed to operate on, and you get to know yourself in a way that you didn't before.

Here's how I found my way out of the void.

1. Small distractions are so helpful.

.There were a few things that I turned to that were absolutely crucial to me when I was struggling to keep it together: New Girl, playing the game Words With Friends, and journaling (free-writing, and writing in these that I found at Target). Honestly, these things rarely actually made me feel better. However, the value I found in them was creating new habits and filling my life back up with things that didn't involve my heartbreak.

2. You need a support system.

I have always had a hard time trusting people and talking about my feelings. So I thought, naturally, the way to cope with that is to find one person you can trust, and for them to be your ride or die. That's what my ex was for me. When he was gone, I had to learn how to open up to people again, which was extremely foreign and uncomfortable for me. It was an odd feeling to text a friend and say "I'm not okay right now and I need you", and even more uncomfortable when they were nice and supportive back. But all of the dozens of people I leaned on ended up being literally a support system for me- giving me advice, keeping me in check, and telling me all of the things I didn't want to hear, like how pathetic I was acting at some points.

3. You absolutely cannot avoid pain in life.

A quote I found by Jon Kabat-Zinn reads, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to swim" and that became a guiding philosophy for me in dealing with pain. As comforting as it would've been for me to tell myself I'll never let anyone hurt me again, or I was never going to be in another relationship again, I instead decided to tell myself that I was never going to let something break me so deeply again, because I would have a stronger foundation of me and a stronger sense of self. So that when the next person left my life, I would be sad, but I wouldn't feel shattered to the core ever again. Life involves constant rejection, constant disappointment, and constant anxiety. You will never escape that. You will hurt so much throughout life. But if you can build yourself to be strong enough, it won't matter.

4. You can empathize with somebody and forgive their actions and still want nothing to do with them- and that's okay.

When my ex and I were together, he messed up and did a lot of things wrong. He would scream at me and tell me he hated me and apologize with so much fear and hurt in his eyes and say, "I'm sorry, sometimes my anxiety causes me to demonize you" and in the moment I wasn't strong enough to say "it's okay, but you're abusive and I need to be away from you". I instead would say, "It's okay, let's not worry about it and just go to bed" and it would keep on happening. I empathized too much with his demons and gave him too much understanding at my own expense. Now I've learned that I can still feel that way about him, but when he reaches out asking for another chance, I can say no. And I don't feel guilty anymore.

5. Your relationship with yourself should be your top priority.

To explain my experience of learning to love myself, it would take pages. Simply put, I started being okay with things just being me, myself, and I. If I had a rough day, I would at first come home wishing I had my ex there to talk to and be there for me. Eventually I started going to Target, picking up a bottle of wine, and taking care of my damn self. I stopped thinking "oh I'd love to do this but I don't have anybody to go with me" and started eating at restaurants alone, going to bars alone, and going on hikes alone. I bought myself jewelry that I wished a guy would buy me. I said yes to every guy that asked me out on a date just to put myself out there. I spontaneously went and got a new tattoo completely by myself. And now that I steady to the core in my own being, anybody in my life is there because they're a complement, not a supplement. This will protect me from ever staying in a relationship again that manages to gut me in the way my previous one did.

A quote that I love from J.K. Rowling reads, "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life", and that is absolutely true of what the past three months have been for me. Day by day, I've pieced together a new identity and healed my soul. I wouldn't have been here if I hadn't hit rock bottom.

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