Friday, April 04, 2014

Overcoming Morphine

(A bit long and intense, but my next posts will be fun and bead-friendly, I promise.)


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.













49 comments:

  1. I have no experience whatsoever of this and probably very little to add, but I just wanted to congratulate you on your bravery in getting clean. I hope things get a little easier soon.

    For what it's worth, you've directly helped me grow as an artist as a person through some dark times of my own, and you've always been accessible and helpful no matter how much you've been suffering. Thank you.

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  2. Lori, You are so strong despite all that life has thrown at you. Even in your darkest days you manage(d) to send a quick post to the Bead Soupers and not give up on yourself or your family. Be kind to yourself-You deserve it! I hope there are better days ahead for your health. We all love you!

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  3. You are an inspiration, and I am so happy you are on the other side of this part of your battle! one down, keep on going. And THANK YOU. thank you for baring your soul. for sharing your struggle. you help so many people by how you share you failures and success's. your pain and your hope. love you!

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  4. Awesome.. just awesome. Not only your progress, but your willingness to share. You may never know, and you may never hear about it, but I can *guarantee* that your words will help others to overcome similar problems. You are an inspiration.. keep it up. Such good news!

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  5. You were incredibly brave to do what you did! I'm glad you are on the way to wellness.

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  6. hang in there~proud of you:):)

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  7. I have a great respect for you, Lori! Detoxing at home must be very difficult. Working in a hospital de-tox clinic I see daily how difficult it is with the help of all possible medication available for relieving the withdrawal symptoms. By now the withdrawal symptoms are probably mostly over but you still need to fight the pain of your original illness. Keep on the good work! My thoughts are with you.

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  8. I didn't read your blog yet. Just your title affects me too deeply.I've worked my way through this kind of pain too. I took morphine for years. I wouldn't have stopped on my own, but other things combined to make me stop.And You know what. When I stopped the morphine my pain went away too. Morphine didn't cause my pain, but it did prolong it. You are such a rolemodel to your people, I applaud you for telling this story, the one many people have been through, but so few have been able to talk about

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  9. Loi I know the physical and emotional pain of withdrawal of a class all medication and I commend you for handling it as well as you did, you have every right to be proud to get thru this. Even tough there is still pain you and Zach and your family will be so glad to
    have their Lori back. Your very brave Lori Anderson now fly free luv Gina Wood

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  10. Some days I feel bad because I have cancer but don't think I am suffering near as much as you have. Keep strong girl, you've come a long ways. Hope you keep feeling better all the time.

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  11. As always, your post is honest and inspirational. I've been working with a naturopath for the last 6 years to help with chronic respiratory/sinus infections - dealing with the symptoms directly is often more challenging and can take longer than taking something to relieve them (in my case frequent and big doses of antibiotics). Know you have a ways to go on your journey - good luck.

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  12. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Hugs to you! Hang in there, hope you feel better soon. You are very brave and strong and you can do it.

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  13. AAAANNNNDDDDD...SHE IS BACK!!! [Yeah I know, ships out to sea, not all docked etc... But...I have watched you struggle and heard the tenor of your blogs...YOU MY DEAR are BACK!!! I am so very excited for you!!! Hugs, Prayers, and lots of Love for you and yours!!!

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  14. Well... my recent experience is that sometimes you do have to look back to see how far you've come to take your mind off how far you have to go. YOU dear lady have come a LONG way. :D Blessings, prayers and peace as you continue your journey.

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  15. Hi Lori. Thank you for sharing your story.I know that you are helping others by doing so. Congratulations on kicking the morphine. I can only imagine how hard that is. I hope that things will get better for you now. You are such an awesome person and even in your pain you cared about all of us. You have inspired me more than you know and I am sure that the same is true for others too. Hang in there it will get better.

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  16. I was on morphine too a few months ago. But the haze I was in was awful. I literally lost days. Like they didn't happen. I quit right away because I didn't want something so powerful that it could make me lose days and be a zombie. Glad you got off it too. I take Znorco while saying it doesn't do a thing for the pain.

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  17. "No matter where you are today in your journey, may you find safe haven."

    I like this so much... I wish the same for you.

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  18. Wow, Lori...you are truly an inspiration. Such raw openness and honesty. Thanks so much for sharing your story. hugs

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  19. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your honesty is going to help someone...maybe many! Congratulations on your progress. Hugs!

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  20. Lori, so glad to hear you are off those deadly pills, take heart you can do this, can't be with you in person but always with you in spirit.
    Jackie

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  21. Lori, I'm so happy for you! I can't even begin to imagine all the pain you've been through and all the pain and worry you're still going through. You keep on going when so many others would have given up. When I was very young, my mom suddenly became terribly ill and lost all motor skill and the ability to talk due to a medication intended to save her life—we very nearly lost her. It was my dad who chose to go against everything the doctors were saying was right and very slowly, but surely she recovered. It was the most frightening thing to do and was like starting all over for her. I know that we were truly blessed at that time. Be strong Lori—I know that so much in store for you and it isn't a life of pain! You are loved by so many!

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  22. That took a lot of courage to stick with the withdrawal and see it through. Thank you for sharing your progress. You never know who will find inspiration and support from your story. You already know that overcoming addiction is not a matter of a "bad" person becoming "good," but a sick person becoming well. I hope others who are suffering will read your blog and decide, "Okay. Today I'll start getting well."
    xoxo from someone else in recovery. :)

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  23. An amazing story and even more amazing is your strong will to quit taking the drug. And to share. And function. You gonna make it!!!

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  24. You are such a beautiful person Lori! Your determination to get healthy is so inspiring. All that you do for the beading community is appreciated more than you know, and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say take care of you -that is what is most important right now! Sending hugs and well wishes your way. :)

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  25. This is the right thing for you. You've hit your limit, you've drawn that line in the sand, and you've rallied your troops around you ( better for them to catch you if they're all around you ;)) It's a tough battle you're fighting, but you're completely right in that it NEEDS to be fought NOW, while you can still win! And you WILL win, because you have the strength and the support, and whenever you doubt it, just look at that adorable sweet son of yours, and that wonderful husband. *hugs* And btw, giving up and crawling in bed for a day, isn't a bad thing when the battle is as rough as it is. It's just where you'll be fighting that day ;)

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  26. Wow, Lori:
    You are such a special person and inspiring to so many. I am glad you are getting healthy and I pray that you will feel relief from the pain (in a less toxic way.)

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  27. I am just so sorry, my friend, that you are going through this.

    I am also in awe of your courage in the face of all that you've done and refusing to back down, even in the face of pain and withdrawal. Brava.

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  28. Good for you Lori, I knew that you where a strong person and you have confirmed that. The road may be long but just know you have many friends to help you along the way!

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  29. You have come this far - Do not look back. Stay strong Lori - You can beat this horrible thing that has controlled your life to long.
    You have many out there cheering for you.
    Have a great weekend!

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  30. Shedding tears for you, my friend, for I know you've been to hell & back more times then any human ever should. But I'm so happy & proud of you for how far you've come! Big hugs & much love!

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  31. You know me.... I got my pom poms out and if I could I'd do a few cartwheels... I love you lady... and will always be here for you..

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  32. Congrats! One more huge step towards being healthy. I do have to say that you are my inspiration. You are one of the strongest people I have ever ran across. I am such a wimp. I know that there is NO way I could have gone to a detox at home on my own. Yet you managed to do it while keeping up with other things such as the BSBP.

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  33. Lori, I felt so bad for you on the day that I felt was probably your darkest. I felt like I had lied to you when I told you I didn't have problems detoxing. I didn't, at least not like you had, I can't imagine what you went through, but great for you! I'm so proud of you for sticking it out, showing others that it can be done, not painlessly, but with determination!
    Keeping you as always in thoughts and prayers, keep up the good work!
    And to anyone else wanting to detox, please talk to your doctor and know it can be done.

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  34. Dearest Lori, Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! I can certainly relate to your pain & suffering & also to your determination to change. I'm on the road to recovery & each & every day I'm grateful that I am! Chronic pain is hard to live with but there are ways to ease it some. I'm so glad that you are through with probably one of the hardest things you've ever had to do & are on the other side now! I wish you the best of health & happiness!

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  35. Two weeks - CONGRATULATIONS!!
    Keep up the good work, one day at a time. So happy for you. Be Well ~~T

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  36. You and your family are strong. You have t be to get through this. I'm praying for God to give you all comfort and strength.

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  37. Finding your way to good health is such a balance when you have chronic conditions. I'm glad you are on your way.

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  38. Lori,

    So glad you have been able to fight this and are at the point where you are off the drug. Leopard up the good work. Everyone is rooting for you.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration to us.

    Carolyn

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  39. Please, let me just clear up one thing that I feel is/has been extremely important in my relationship with prescription pain medication. There is a difference between addiction and dependence! Although, the maddening uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, unfortunately, don't discriminate either way. Treating pain is not easy, especially now. However, whether addiction or dependence, it's still an emotional, physical, and psychological battle, a difficult and challenging and dangerous task. One that will push your mind to places you never knew existed. And when your convulsing uncontrollably, sweating and freezing, crying and aching, exhausted and at that point that you cannot take another second of anything, and you know the madness would stop if you just took one more pill, it eases, for a while, and you just get through it. Coming of narcotics of any kind aren't Sunshine and unicorns, but in the end, it's worth it to rid your body of something that is poisonous and toxic. Eventually, those little pills/patches stop being effective anyway, and there have got to be alternatives to making all this physical pain tolerable, better even, fixable. Detoxing is a brave, scary, exhausting, thing. It messes with every fear and emotion, makes you question your sanity and makes you doubt your own strength, possibly even your faith. But in those moments, you're really strongest, because even though you think you can't do it, you already have. This has been my experience, anyway. I've been diagnosed with several chronic/chronic pain conditions over the past 20 some years. I've been on and come off just about every narcotic (even some non-narcotics, like Cymbalta, Lyrica) and it never gets easier. Except this time, I have someone that actually 'gets' my symptoms, and everything (that's quite a list!) that goes with it. Other than my husband Keith, who walks this nightmare with me daily, Lori is the strength, the voice of reason, the calm sanctuary, the one that believes, because she lives it, too, she totally gets it, she's there. How do you thank someone for giving so much of themselves, when you know how exhausted and how much they hurt, too? That's why I appreciate your blog, Lori, how you share your experiences. Because you touch lives, you give people hope. People like me. I love you.

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  40. I am proud of you for taking charge of your body and the path of healing. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
    You are an inspiration to all of us.
    I pray that in time your ships will come in and you can begin on a new journey; one without so much pain.

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  41. Heather O10:26 AM

    You are amazing, Lori.. ((hug))

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  42. Lori, I'm so sorry for everything you've had to go through and all the pain. Pain works on your mind in terrible ways. Sending you many good thoughts and prayers to soon be free of all the medications and the pain. You are such a kind and good person---it comes through in your writing.
    Lynn Carling :)

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  43. ~you are loved sweetie~

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  44. Anonymous2:04 PM

    Doing what you and your body have -- you should be proud and pleased with yourself. You're going thru it and sure know it is not easy. We each have our story-been thru cancer twice--and am deathly allergic to what you are getting off. Am diabetic and very allergic to sugar substitutes. When it gets bad, try drifting-like meaditation-into your creative mode-design or construction. Good luck. God be with you. Mary Lou

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  45. Kudos to you for such a strength. I admire you even more that I did before.

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  46. You have certainly had a long hard struggle. I can totally relate to degenerative disc disorder. Twenty five years ago, they wanted to do surgery on me. I refused and used chiropractic, exercise, diet and every health remedy I could find. Last year, when I could not even walk across the room, I began the drug therapy, the shots, the physical therapy. the sleepless nights and am still struggling> I cannot imagine having the Lyme disease on top of all the back problems. Your post about morphine is so helpful. I'm concerned it will be a future stop for me and I will try to refuse it. I confess, I have thought about cannabis, medical marijuana which is not addicting and less harmful to one's liver but Ohio has no medical law for it. Pain is so debilitating. It drains your body of energy. Its exhausting
    I do not know how you get a thing done. I give you credit for all you accomplish.

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  47. Bless you Lori. You are such a beautiful soul. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue on your path to healing. I'm so thankful for you that you've crossed this particular hurdle.

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  48. I'm so proud of you for writing this and putting it out there. You are brave and courageous. <3

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  49. I'm similarly prescribed opiates and I once tried to detox myself. It was agony. I finally ended up back on them. I only detoxes because I thought I needed to to get pregnant. Turns out I've since planned and had two healthy kids while on them. You are really brave to do it yourself. I hope you can fight the cause and get past it. For me, it is likely to be a lifelong challenge as I have a disease with no chance of a cure. Best Wishes

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