UPDATED Day 36: May 22, 2018
It’s long, but comes from a place of love and compassion and personal experiences.
I AM EXHAUSTED! While today was a success, my pain level was much higher than yesterday. I was prepared mentally since I did so much yesterday and worked from 7:45-5:00. I didn’t sleep well last night because of the pain and anxiety.
I got to work at 8am today, and left at 4:30pm. Still a full day. But, long! I made a desk for myself on the main level. There are 3 levels in this particular house. It’s rad, dudes! Anyway, I finally made a space to work on the main level where I can see everyone walking in. I had to go downstairs a few times to print stuff and turn on breakers. But, I was careful! I will NOT do anything to jeopardize my neck.
Today was a little crazy. First off, I took 6,429 steps today. That’s a lot for someone who had major neck surgery 36 days ago. The HVAC supplier came and hooked up the AC and I heard a running noise a little later, walked Into the powder bath and the water was coming out of the condensate line. It hadn’t been hooked up properly. I got all the towels and jackets from my car and got the water up, turned off the AC, and contacted all the pertinent parties. Everything is fine, but it was stressful and I had to do a lot more than expected. Good news is that I feel pain, but it could be so much worse. I feel like I didn’t overdo.
I’m starting the process of weaning myself off my heavy duty knock me on my arse meds. In doing that, which I’m focused on, the pain is worse. Worse is relative. Dilaudid and other opiate narcotics are called dirty narcotics. Dirty because the addiction sneaks up on you. Since narcotics don’t heal, but cover pain, your body becomes immune and your mind tricks you into thinking you need more. So the mind tells the body that it’s in more pain than it is, so you take more pills, and before you know it, you can easily get caught up in the chaos. There’s a fine line between taking opiates properly and falling into addiction. A body becomes addicted to narcotics in 2-4 weeks. It depends on your weight, dosage and length of time. How many times have we heard that someone got hurt, or had surgery and just couldn’t get off the pills and eventually, the docs said screw you and heroin becomes the go to? My mind never even considered such a thing. I also hated OxyContin. But so many are already caught up in their addictions, abandoned by their docs or going to pill mills. I think doctors have a moral responsibility to help patients get off of opiates. But, then the kickbacks they receive outweigh their moral compass. NOT ALL DOCTORS ARE THIS WAY. As a matter of fact, I explained to a doctor my goal and there was no hesitation in getting what I needed to walk away from the pills for good. He trusted me. Honestly, he took a gamble on me.
People get into drugs for all kinds of reasons. For the reasons I mentioned above and mental and emotional pain that’s just too hard fo handle with a clean and clear mind. I just want to hug those people. You become someone you don’t recognize, nor do those around you. I lightly touched on this last night, but I have a huge issue with the judgment passed to addicts. They are in a category all their own, but it’s growing bigger every day. Let’s help them! Let’s show them love.
Since the surgery, I’ve been very aware of my pain and my pill intake and I’ve not ever taken more than prescribed. When I felt my mind was going in the opposite direction, because our mental or physical pain definitely dictates our choices sometimes, I moved into the pain so I could feel it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, eliminating my need to take a pill. I’m also on a non-narcotic muscle relaxer, which I can take anytime for however long and it’s ok. So, my doctor said if the pain is too bad to take a muscle relaxer instead and sit with it for awhile. It’ll also help me get off the addictive pills. My body is addicted to the Dilaudid, but I’ve let it go for enough hours to feel the withdrawal and I’m ok. Withdrawal is one of the most devastating, and debilitating experiences a person will ever go through and will stop a person from even daring to get off drugs or alcohol. I never want to go through that again. It motivated me to get off. I simply have so many positive things in my life that I have no interest or desire or bad thoughts to steal my soul. I want to help those who are suffering. Ultimately, the person has to want to get better. It’s a waste of time otherwise. All we can do is hope they figure it out and ask for help.
Some of the absolute smartest, loving and most brilliant people I’ve known are addicts desperately trying to figure their way out. After a point, you have to truly be honest with yourself and then with those around you. Your addiction isn’t a secret to anyone around you. I promise.Someone has just been waiting for you to say…. I need help. They’re just watching you, loving you, praying for you to realize your worth. It’s hard, I know. But, once you’re there, and you realize you have a community of peers who support you, you will be ok in time. Recovery is a lifetime journey. There are ups and downs. There are doubts and triumphs. You’re living your life with all the emotions and clear mind. That’s hard when you’ve been in a fog for years. I think most relapses happen because reality is clear and it’s too much.
I have never needed rehab or treatment for drugs, however, I took hydrocodone (opiate) for a period of 6-ish years because my pain flared up. I was using a cane and sometimes a wheelchair. The only good part was riding the vroom vroom at Walmart. It was a hard, hard time in my life. I was also in a bad relationship which only worsened my pain. I didn’t realize that at the time. Negative thoughts and stressful situations and abusive environments only add to an already painful situation physically. He also took the pills. Before I knew it, I was caught up in the chaos. I knew I had a problem and started my way back. I had to find my way. In 2010, the road back to a healthier me began. My family knew but I was hella private about the details of my life. I was ashamed and felt alone. But, I was determined to get on a healthier track. It took 2-3 years, but I did it. Lots of ups and downs, but I didn’t give up.
I got a job I loved and began working at an adoption agency. It changed my life forever. I finally had something to live for, other than my children, who kept me alive. I was still hooked on the pills, but I had o plan. Without going into too much more detail, I got away from him in 2012, I think. The timeline is fuzzy. In 2013, I weaned off the pills alone without anyone. It’s because I had positive things in my life. I was excited because I knew my pain would disappear. It took me about a month to get off completely and the pain got better and no more cane. It was scary. Maybe this is where others falter. Not me. Once I make up my mind, I’m hyper focused on succeeding. I didn’t crave the pills after about 6 months. I needed my Mom, but that was it. After about 2 weeks into it, I told her what I was doing
No more wheelchair and no more vroom vroom. I had never felt better! I had done weeks of research to prepare for myself for the aftermath of no more pills. I spent about 6-8 months getting through my brain reacclimating to a whole different chemical makeup. I had more seizures and I realized I had lost the ability to remember simple words and phrases. I realized how much I didn’t remember and whole skill sets were gone. I lost my all my Spanish. I was fluent and it was just gone.
I left the adoption agency for another job, where I struggled. One because one of my coworkers drove me up and down the wall, but that job was within the 6-8 months of recuperating from being off the pills. I couldn’t focus. I tried but couldn’t. I’ve never really talked about this. Ever. I think it’s ok now. I’m over the shame of it, and I’ve apologized to those I hurt. Some accepted and some simply couldn’t or wouldn’t. I understand. The apologies were more for my lies around my abusive relationship than the pills.
Being off the pills made me realize and trust myself that my neck was in trouble. It took me 4 years to finally have neck surgery!
DO NOT STOP TAKING NARCOTICS COLD TURKEY. It’s dangerous for your health, depending on how long and the dosage you’ve been on. If you need help and you don’t know where to turn and a doctor isn’t on your rolladex, see below. There is help and you’re not alone!
I’m always happy to listen if you’re not sure where to start. No judgment. It’s worth the watch!
THANK YOU to those who have helped me in some way today! Jamie, Judy, Mom, Kathey, Mark, Kim, Wes, Matt, Dad, Sandie, T, Lupe, Kevin, Deea, Ken, Susan, Ignacio, Chase (for being strong and getting on the recovery journey. I love you!)
I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my good friend, April, last night! She’s one of my favorite people!