My War on Drugs: Part 2 of 3

My War on Drugs: Part 2 of 3

After 7 years on Fentanyl and Percocet, my doctor discharged me without notice...

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In the summer of 2007, I sat on the table in the exam room in my urologist's office. The paper was crinkling under the gown that covered my butt as I looked in a daze across a small blue clinic room at my doctor. I listened as she informed me I wasn't a good candidate for a pain management program. Then she went on to say she didn't feel I would ever be able to manage my pain without morphine-level pain relievers. Since I was allergic to morphine, the fentanyl patches were her preference over the long-acting oxycontin pills also available.

Her words took a few months to sink in. At my next visit with her, I requested a copy of my records be sent to a clinic that specialized in medical cannabis. I was nervous and averted my eyes to the powder blue wall when I asked.

When she answered I looked back at her in shock, "I don't think it would do any harm." My urologist did not feel the side-effects of cannabis would be any worse than those of the medications I was already using.

In 2008, after my last bird flew the nest and she was safely situated in a dorm room at her university, I became a legal medical marijuana patient. I had found that a few puffs off of a pipe filled with the pungent herb called cannabis were more helpful for more than just nausea that caused me to try it. It helped my pain level more than any of the pills I had been given. I was not alone.

In the second edition of his book, Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, Michael Backes explains, "Cannabinoids can relieve pain through a variety of mechanisms, including producing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, through the modulation of neurotransmitter release, and by stimulating the release of the body's own natural opioids." Using cannabis, my body was helping to relieve the pain itself.

For the first years I used cannabis, I smoked it. I was shocked at the amount of pain relief I felt as well as the feeling of well-being. There were times when I did feel the euphoria everyone seems so scared of, but it wasn't like the angry, mean, high I had from the narcotics when I started them. Just like the opiates, as my body became accustomed to the cannabis, the euphoria left. What stayed was decreased inflammation and increased analgesic properties as well as a change in my moods for the better.

One year after I became a medical cannabis patient, in August of 2009, my pain was manageable with the prescribed medications and the herbal addition. As Backes describes in Cannabis Pharmacy, "THC was found to both displace opioids from the receptor to which they bind, while also allowing for reductions in the dose of opioids necessary to treat high levels of pain." This could have contributed to my pain being able to stay under control while maintaining the same dose of the fentanyl and Percocet from 2007-2009.

A few days before the withdrawals began, I had driven to my Urologist's office in Tacoma. It was the same route I'd driven between Olympia and Tacoma every month for the previous six years. Every trip reminding me of the legalities of these strong pain medications: They couldn't be called in or mailed. I had to pick them up each and every month. The ironic part was I probably shouldn't have been driving on fentanyl.

I pulled the Town Car into the tiny parking lot next to St. Joseph's hospital nose first, knowing even to back it out when I was leaving would be delicate, but I was tired and wanted to get back home. The heat of late August seemed to sap the energy right out of me, and I slowly shuffled to the elevator and pushed the circular button indicating "2."

As I opened the door, the fountain on the wall made me laugh. How would any office decorator believe it was a good thing to have the sound of running water in an office where people who can't control their urinating? In what world does that make sense? It seemed cruel. I dismissed my mental rantings and proceeded ahead to the desk.

"Hi, I'm here to pick up my prescriptions."

The young blonde receptionist who I was used to greeting me with polite smiles and friendly words looked towards me in disbelief. She turned from her seat at the front portion of the wrap-around desk, leaned into me and spoke in quiet words, "You didn't get the letter?"

(Read the conclusion here now!)

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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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