If you're new to my blog, it won't take much scrolling through back posts to discover I've had some rough years. Migraines, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, misdiagnosed with lupus, CORRECTLY diagnosed with Lyme disease plus its many evil friends ... yup. Not been a good couple of years on the health front.
If you're a long-time reader, you already know that I bare my soul here. Today's post is very personal and potentially controversial, but I know there are people out there in the same boat, and now that this particular boat of mine has finished its journey and safely docked, I want to share my story.
For the longest time, my only real pain issue was chronic, frequent migraines. I've tried practically everything on the market, had spinal taps, nerve blocks, the whole nine yards. I didn't take pain medication because nothing helped. I just slap an ice pack (gently) on my head, put an eye mask on to block the light, and lie veryveryvery still until it goes away. I've had these since I was six, so I'm used to it.
Then the back pain from degenerative disc disease I was diagnosed with twenty years ago became a problem. I got epidural injections for a while, then acupuncture. While my back was being treated, my pain kept escalating in my joints and muscles. The doctor knew it was unrelated to my back, and *I* knew I needed relief. Please. PRETTY please. Thus began my foray into the world of opiates.
First I was prescribed Tylenol 3. Then something stronger. Vicodin, Percoset, Oxycontin. It was like taking Tic Tacs. No relief. Nada.
That led to being prescribed slow-release morphine about a year ago.
The good thing about slow release -- there was no "high" feeling. Not at all. I couldn't tell I was taking it. That, though, was the bad part. It wasn't helping, either.
In hindsight, I should have given up then and just tried to gut it out. But before I was correctly diagnosed with Lyme disease, my body was fighting itself and all the lupus drugs that were being thrown at me. I ached so badly I cried in my sleep. Then I quit sleeping more than a couple hours at a time. I hurt. And I was scared.
|What the bed started to feel like.|
It takes no time at all to become addicted to morphine. I knew that going in. I knew I eventually had to quit taking those nasty dark blue pills, but my doctors were worried about the withdrawal process. I've been severely depressed over everything and a bad withdrawal could potentially bring back suicidal thoughts. Plus, they felt it HAD to be giving me SOME relief. I felt damned if I do, damned if I don't. I won't lie. It was easier to keep taking the morphine, even when it no longer worked, than face the fear of withdrawal.
I had to quit, though, when a routine liver panel showed I'd passed into the toxic range and I had fatty liver disease. It's reversible, but not fun. I know exactly where my liver is because I can feel it. It hurts.
I've been prescribed a million different things in the past ten years for this and that, and I imagine I've had fatty liver longer than I realize. Drugs, both over the counter and prescribed, can wreak havoc on your liver. I got my blood tested regularly, but when it jumped to toxic, I knew ... it's time.
As irony would have it, I began at-home detoxing right after sign ups for the Bead Soup Blog Party. What timing! Almost 500 people counting on me to be on my A Game. According to the doctor, I could detox in two weeks. Well, that's not bad, I thought. I'll be right as rain in time for partner pairing.
Let's just say that particular detox attempt was a colossal failure. WAY too fast. So, back on the morphine train.
Choo freaking choo.
|Thinking about this little guy (taken in 2005) has helped me through it all.|
I couldn't wait two months for my next appointment. I wanted off that train NOW. I felt like a ticking time bomb, feeding my body with poison that had quit working long ago. Time for the Big Girl Pants. After some research, Rick and I devised our own detox.
(Pausing here to say, what worked for me does not mean it will work for you. I'm not a doctor. We did tell the doctor our plan, and he said go ahead, but we had to wing it a bit.)
Fast forward to now. I haven't taken morphine in two weeks. And I'm not going back. I hurt just the same, no more and no less, which is actually a good thing. Why take something when it doesn't work? It would be a lot harder to kick the habit if it DID make me feel right as rain. But it didn't. And strangely, I'm glad.
Detox is a humbling experience. I was sick, miserable with myself, upset with everyone and everything. I cried. A lot. I wanted to cave in and start taking those pills that weren't taking the pain away just to make withdrawal stop.
But I didn't.
I'm working with a team of doctors using as many natural remedies as possible, and I think twice and three times before even taking an aspirin. Gutting it out through the bad parts is not my strong point. I'm a total wimp in the face of an ouchie. This is the right thing for me, though, and I have to keep reminding myself that in order to truly get well, I need to be healthy, not just mask the symptoms.
No matter where you are today in your journey, may you find safe haven. I still have a lot of ships out at sea that haven't docked home yet, but they're coming in.
I'll keep the light on for you.
Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing.