Category Archives: Journal Pages

Tramadol Nightmare Finally Ends

                          

Tonight marks the seventh day I’ve been completely free of any tramadol. The peak of withdrawal for me was this past Friday night. I woke up with sweats, jerking muscles that were cramping, I puked a few times, I had an excruciating headache, and once I got out of bed the panic set in. I was up all night. I could not stay asleep. When I did sleep it was in increments of thirty minutes. It was a very rough night. That next morning, I began to wonder if I needed to enter a detox facility. It was that bad. As the day went on I was exhausted but as I kept focused on music, and moving around it got easier. I am now on day eight and all the withdrawal symptoms have departed!

I feel pretty good considering all my physical infirmities. My nerve tumor pain is high part of the day, but I manage through it here at home. I had a very successful day yesterday. Yesterday I was able to go out to a doctor’s appointment, make a grocery store trip, make a Walgreens stop, make a stop at the gas station, and do my dishes at the sink! This might sound trivial to some of my readers, but for me, that is extraordinary while only being on naproxen 500mg.

I have noticed a few changes since detoxing from the tramadol too. I have been struggling with severe fatigue for years now and concentration problems. I always walked around feeling foggy, and so fatigued I could barely hold my head up most days. This last week I noticed that the foggy feeling has subsided completely. I think more clearly. I believe the tramadol must have contributed to that cloudy thinking. The fatigue I felt was probably intensified by the tramadol as well. I am still tired in the middle of the day but it isn’t nearly as bad as it was while I was taking the tramadol.

I don’t see my pain clinic until the 24th, but when I do they will have to come up with another plan for my case. I am rejecting to be treated any longer with any type of narcotic, or any type of pain treatment that my body will become dependent on, that if I choose to stop taking it, I have to deal with withdrawals like I had to face with tramadol. There has to be a better way to deal with pain patients. There has to be a way to help us without turning us into pill addicts, or physical addicts. They’re doctors who work hard to get these special degrees. They should be smart enough to figure this out.

I strongly believe marijuana should be utilized in this area. If marijuana was utilized for chronic pain patients, it would prevent addiction across the board. Science shows that cannabis is promising for pain relief. “Science also shows that addiction is very low at only 30% likely to have a dependency problem and that the 30% who develop dependency are people who have psychiatric issues before use” (Hasin).

It is time that our nation takes the stigma that surrounds cannabis and completely remove it. We must begin taking rational steps in solving problems we face with addiction to opiates and other opiate type medicine, like tramadol. Cannabis is one logical step! We must begin taking logical steps in treating chronic pain patients and stop imagining they do not exist, that they do not matter, or that their quality of life is not just as important as any other patient treated in our nation. Cannabis would help so many avoid opiate addiction, it would help improve the quality of so many lives across our nation, and it would be affordable to them. If the Obama administration is serious about this new initiative to help fight opiate addiction, he will move to help legalize cannabis nationwide on the federal level for medical use with a proposed bill to congress before he leaves office. The ball is in your court Obama. Help us, not the prescription thugs!!

Sources

Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United  States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235-1242. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858.

 

The Tramadol Nightmare

I have been a chronic pain patient since my first back surgery in 2005. A little background: In 2005 I became unable to walk. Neurologists found a nerve tumor in my S1, L5 nerve root which was located next to the spine. The doctors also found a tarlov cyst directly next to that nerve tumor in the same scan. This was when my life changed forever. This was also when my first relapse back into opiate drug abuse would enter my life again, in a few years that followed the surgery I had, in attempts to remove the nerve tumor and to drain the tarlov cyst. For some of my readers this information is not new information. I don’t want any readers lost however so that little bit of background information is imperative to have. Fast forward to my trip to the Mayo Clinic. I cleaned myself up from using opiates. My pain was unbearable. I could barely walk, I still couldn’t drive and I was unable to work.

I reached out to the top neurology team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in hopes that they could tell me there was a surgery that could be done there to fix me so that I could no longer depend on pain meds. I wanted to go back to work, to drive again, and walk again like a normal woman! They were the best in the nation so if anyone could fix me I knew it would be them. I went through a series of scans, and tests. The results were heartbreaking.

The visit left me helpless and permanently disabled with no hope. The team of doctors typed up a report that informed me that there was no surgical fix to my specific case which was so rare that only two people in the United States have the type of non-cancerous nerve tumor I have. They explained that because my nerve had braided itself around the tumor that removing the tumor from the nerve (sciatic nerve) it would leave me with no use of my right extremities, with no control of the bowel and bladder functions so it was best that I seek out a pain clinic to help me manage the nerve pain. The report included an EMG result which showed the previous surgery I had in 2005 left me with nerve damage in the right foot which had not regenerated or repaired itself. They referred me to MAPS.

Fast forward to 2011. MAPS tries to convince me to have a medicine pump implanted into my back and I strongly object. I start out with receiving injections of a cocktail of steroids and pain medicine. Epidural injections, and a few others. They work wonders! I start walking without a cane more often. I start doing physical therapy for a while in a heated tub. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, the insurance must have seen this light! The light suddenly gets smashed! The insurance suddenly starts denying payment and approval for these injections. I am now faced with the decision to either live with the excruciating nerve pain and go back to not walking most days or allow MAPS to medicate me. During this time also they opted to put me into a trial for an implanted device called a neurostimulator for the nerve. The trial was amazing and it worked so I got a surgery in 2011 to have the device implanted into my back. The machine got me back to walking but it did not get rid of all of my nerve pain so I needed a nerve agent to help with pain. The taste I got back of the freedom I lost for so many years I was quick to choose medications with strict rules. I told the doctors I refuse to go on any opiate based medications. I did not want to be on any addictive prescription.

The PA in charge of my case at the time (2011-2012) throws out the medication name tramadol. She asked me if I have ever heard of it and I said no. She continued to tell me that it was fairly new to the market, which I now know was a bold face lie, she tells me it wasn’t an opiate but an anesthesia base medicine that works well with nerve pain and she thought it matched well with my case. She said it showed no addiction properties in all studies done and no signs of abuse in studies. She told me that people shown to do very well on a very low dose. I was excited to hear all this positive stuff. It wasn’t an opiate, it was going to work on my nerve pain, it wasn’t risky, so I did what any person would do in my situation, I said sign me up! What a huge mistake!!

The first time I realized that tramadol was actually highly physically addictive was when the clinic left me in a situation where I actually ran out of my medicine in early 2015 (I believe it was 2015 or may have been late 2014). I found out the hard way. I had no warnings and it came out of left field. No one ever informed me the pill would throw me into withdrawals! I went without my meds for two days and when I called the clinic they called in my prescription. This was before a law prevented them from calling in scripts over the phone, and this was before tramadol’s drug schedule was changed. When I called the clinic for the refill and explained to them I thought I was actually going through withdrawals they acted like they did not believe me but called in the script anyway. Fast forward to 2016.

This is the second time the clinic has left me in a position where I am dry of my tramadol. Due to a new law they have to do face to face every three months, the patient has to pee in a cup for drug tests, and they are not allowed to send scripts to Walgreens until those requirements are met. Making an appointment to line up with your med count is damn near impossible because they only can schedule so far out in the month, they book up extremely fast, a working mother, and a full time student that makes things even harder. I made a decision that I am NOT going back on the tramadol. I don’t care how bad the nerve pain gets. They will have to find another way to treat it. The withdrawals have been a nightmare!

I knew I was going to run out before my appointment on the 24th of this month so I started tapering off immediately weeks ago. I am on day two of absolutely no tramadol. Yesterday was the worst! My entire body feels like my nerve endings are sending continual shocks throughout nonstop. I sweat profusely, and then shake with chills. I feel very anxious! I have twitches and I can’t seem to sit still for very long. Moving around helps. I paced a lot yesterday, today it is a little better but still have to move a lot. Music seems to help keep my brain focused at least on something other than the anxiety it feels of not having the drug. I’ve been utilizing my heating pads to help with pain. I’m glad my semester ended! I feel pins and needles in my fingers and toes constantly since I started tapering the tramadol and it has only gotten worse since I’ve gone down to no tramadol at all. I have this strange feeling in my brain I can’t quite explain that started yesterday. It is like I am on the verge of paranoia and fogginess…like I think something is there or feel something is there but I’m logical enough to know there isn’t. It is hard to explain. I have a very heavy ringing in my ears. I haven’t been able to sleep except in small increments of 30 minutes. Last night was terrible! I tossed and turned all night and woke up soaked with sweat and had to shower immediately. I have NEVER had that happen, even with the flu!!! My muscles have been cramping. I am very emotional too! I cry one minute and am very angry the next. You don’t want to know about the bathroom stuff…I know that is only going to get worse by day three…my stomach cramps now, it just started actually. I feel nauseous. I had actually decided to quit smoking a few days ago. That was a bad idea. I know that sounds stupid but it was. I had to go buy a pack of smokes because nicotine withdrawal on top of tramadol nicotine was too much for my brain. The nicotine has actually helped ease some of the brain anxiety at least. I still feel very anxious. This shit is scary…. I’m not exaggerating.

I spent a lot of today reading about this wicked poison tramadol. I cried actually at some of the stories I read. I know some of the emotional stuff is the tramadol withdrawal but the stories were sad, scary, and infuriating too. I was so angry I wasn’t told about the addictive nature of this pill from my clinic. I was angry that here I am AGAIN a fucking addict! This time both of my kids are seeing me suffer through this nightmare. Not the same kind of addict I was in the past but nonetheless an addict. A PHYSICAL ADDICT that this clinic created. I was someone who needed help and now I need even more help than when I first began! Why can’t they just let me use fucking weed, FOR REAL now! I don’t fucking get it. I don’t understand it!!!!! It infuriates me. My life is hell right now. I remember cleaning myself off opium…no fun…I remember cleaning myself off the opiates…worse than the opium…. coming off this tramadol of five years…a FUCKING NIGHTMARE I wouldn’t wish on anyone…I know this is just the beginning too. It is going to get worse before it gets easier. My brain and body is going to go ape shit crazy in a week when my pain has nothing to ease it and the brain doesn’t know what to do with the signals because for five years it slept while a drug did its job…I’m pretty scared actually…I’m taking naproxen 500 mg to help with my pain and I do have some left over lidoderm patches if nerve pain gets out of hand to hold me over a few weeks. My main concern is getting my brain trained again to deal with signals being sent and levels of serotonin and all the chemicals that that tramadol screwed with for five years…I wonder how long that is going to take?

It says here, https://www.addictioncenter.com/painkillers/tramadol/withdrawal-detox/ that, “In response, the brain adapts to the constant presence of the drug and adjusts chemically. Because of the influx of tramadol, the brain attempts to self regulate by speeding up and slowing down some of its processes. When the user suddenly stops taking the drug, the brain goes into “overdrive,” causing moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms” (addictioncenter). The timeline below from the AddictionCenter webpage is just for withdrawal symptoms not how long the brain takes to be normal again chemically. I guess I have a rough two weeks ahead of me….

Days 1-3 Onset of general withdrawal symptoms, including feelings of pins and needles, sweating, nervousness, nausea, anxiety, palpitations, insomnia and drug cravings.
Days 4-7 Drug cravings persist, along with insomnia, disorientation and confusion, and blurred vision.
Days 8-14 Symptoms should be fairly mild by this point. Depression, anxiety, and irrational thoughts may persist.

I have to do what I do best…write…

I have to do what I do best…write…

My day started out great. It was beautiful. My niece back home was graduating college. She is going to teach and change the world one kid at a time…and then shortly after I received word that my oldest brother was in a very bad accident on his motorcycle. Now he is laid up in ICU with a brain bleed.

Growing up he was my favorite. I put him up on a pedestal. He was smart. He was funny. He loved music. HE PLAYED GUITAR! He was my hero. I cried when he moved out, I cried when he got married, and then I became a teenager. There are things that happened that built a wall between him and I that I regret happening but life is harsh like that. You grow up and your views change. Well mine did. I held him to such a high standard now that I look back it was unfair of me. No one could have met those standards. I didn’t realize that then so when he broke my heart by letting me down I didn’t waste any time at striking with words, words that, now looking back, probably hurt him deeply, and I do not think he ever forgot them. I wouldn’t. I didn’t.

I can’t take them back now though. Words are dangerous. Words are grenades. That instance isn’t the only one either. I have a long history with my oldest brother of speaking my mind with hurtful words without thinking about the damage they would leave. I was an emotional teenager, by emotional I really mean hot headed. My brother made mistakes. The mistakes didn’t mean I didn’t love him anymore but boy some of the things I’ve said to him over the years probably made him wonder…

So now here I am…sitting at this fucking keyboard again…with this bitter taste in my mouth and an anxious sickness in my stomach that burns my chest with anger towards myself for being a stubborn idiot who ONCE AGAIN thought there was time to make things right…or to reassure my oldest brother that I loved him in spite of his flaws or our past bad blood…

Will I ever learn?? Why is it so hard to share my feelings!?? What the fuck is wrong with me!? My brother might die tonight…why is it so easy for me to stay detached when I’m hurt and so easy to be so damn stubborn in spite of wanting so badly to talk to him? Last time I went home to visit I had to stop myself from going to see him…I didn’t go…why? I never stopped loving him. Hell it hurt me that he didn’t come see me down at my mom’s house…but why couldn’t I bring myself to just go to his place and just say Raymond I love you in spite of everything???

I’m stuck five states away while he is laid up in some cold ICU room…and really I should be there…he is my brother…I keep seeing him playing his guitar for me…taking me for a ride on the motorcycle….I keep seeing him playing basketball…I see his old blue rambler…I see him sitting on his guitar amp outside the house…I see him in his old grahams outfit…I see him in his blue graduation gown and me hanging on his neck at age 9….I don’t see the other shit…I only see my loving brother Raymond who looked out for me and who loved me…and I should be there…

I’m scared…I’m so scared my brother will die….

Dear Dad,

deardadheaven

Dear Dad,  04/30/2015

It is nearing the end of my first semester of community college. I have a long way to go still but I’m finally doing it! It feels good dad. I think about you so much and I wish so much that you were here. I miss you every day that passes. It is 2015 now. You have been gone now for 19 years. That is such a long time dad and so much has changed with the world, technology, your grandchildren, and our family.

I don’t get back home very often. It still didn’t feel like home being back there last summer. There is this void with you gone. I guess it will always be there. When I went back home I went to bury Drew. Yes, that boy I swore I’d love my whole life and chased around the neighborhood. The boy’s initials I carved into the bedroom furniture you were furious about. Oh yeah and the closest door frame too. I know you remember him…how could you forget him right? That was very hard on me to do. I did love him so much. To walk down the isle of that funeral home knowing it would be the last time I’d kiss him good bye broke my heart so bad dad. I still feel bad I never thanked him for saving my life in middle school dad…I know that was when you loved Drew too…when he came forward over that crazy gun nonsense and saved me…you were different towards him after that…he was about the only boy allowed to come see me…I never thanked him for telling me not to stay in Mansfield either when I asked him if I had any reason to…that is one part of growing older really sucks dad…the loved ones you have to bury. Learning how to live on without them is tough. The toughest for me of course has been living with you gone.

I have had to make up for so many missteps I made after you died. I thought the day you told me you had cancer in that stupid gray Corsica that I had time to prepare…maybe not long but at least a few months…we ended up having a year and still I fucked up so badly…I lost myself so much that I’m not even certain I ever found her…even today. I think she died with you dad and I have accepted that…I guess maybe that is what happens when you lose someone so valuable. I thought I would have been fine, solid as a rock…thought I was so smart and had my shit together…what a fool I was…what a waste…so much wasted time…talent…I’m so sorry daddy…I am so sorry…if I could only go back…if only…

The first five years you were gone I walked around numb. I did everything to feel things like I had before you died but I just couldn’t. I moved all over in search of somewhere to belong, a place I could FEEL alive again. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to live anymore in the world without you in it. I just didn’t know how. It took so long to feel anything after you died dad…your granddaughter Courtney, when I gave birth to her; she gave me this need to live, this want to try to live. She still does along with her little sister.

They are so beautiful dad. Kylie reminds me of you once in a while. I’m sorry they never got to meet you. It isn’t fair but there isn’t much in life that is right? Courtney is 14 now! She is so much like me dad and I am so happy our relationship is very close…I am so glad it didn’t turn out like mine and moms. She is so smart too. She is an A student and she already speaks fluent German…she actually just came back from German camp not long ago. She is thrilled about college in her future. I could not be more proud dad and let me tell you right now…if it was not for having you as my dad I would not be such a great mother to her. I would not have been able to get clean and really pull myself out of that dark shit I got myself into at the beginning of my adult life. I never told you but you were a wonderful dad…even with the bad things that happened to me dad, they were not your fault and you couldn’t protect me from everything…you were my hero…you ARE MY HERO!! So thank you.

Little Kylie is a mini me by looking at her. She is just adorable dad. She asks a lot about you. I think she is sad she never got to meet you too. I show her pictures. She is really smart too. She is so creative dad…she writes these amazing stories like I did at that age. Remember that story I wrote about the old woman under the apple tree? I remember you talked about that story even when I was in high school and I wrote that in grade school. Well, Kylie has that same talent. I think she will be a writer if I do things right by her and she doesn’t get messed up in life like I did. I am still working on my writing. I still plan on having my memoir published and my novel series too…I have more to learn that college is helping with before I get there.

God I sure do miss you ….I can’t even explain the feeling dad…I just miss you so bad…

Even though I miss you dad I feel good about life…I’m clean and for a long time now…I love my life except being sick all the time with chronic pain, fatigue etc. I push through though. I love going to school…it feels right… it feels the same way it felt when I started driving bus…like I am just supposed to be there. I am excited about my future. My kids are so excited too. Courtney tells me every week how proud she is that I am in college. She brags to her teachers and friends she says. I sure have traveled a long way dad and that is thanks to YOUR PARENTING…you remember that!! I may have screwed up and may have taken a little longer but I am doing it dad. Not only am I setting examples to others who want to get clean or straighten their life out by showing them IT CAN BE DONE but I am setting an example to my kids to not give up on a dream and that anything is possible. I learned that from you.

I love you so much dad and I wish I had told you more when you were here. I miss you and think of you every day. I will carry you in my heart for the rest of my life and I will make sure you never fade with memories I continue to share with my children. I hope you are at peace where ever it is you are…I will write again.

Love your only daughter,

Rachel

I have serious trust issues!

 trust

Some days I get this overwhelming feeling that I will not survive the day I am faced with. The feeling comes from struggling everyday with chronic illness, pain, loss, and insecurity in me.

Everyone around me, including my husband and children, never really get the internal person I am. The people that surround me see this strong, happy, enduring woman who lets her ambition drive her in everything she decides to take on. In reality though, there is this other woman who lives deep inside that rarely gets seen. This woman who lives deep inside is a scary one. I do not let her out very often for fear it will be used against me. Perhaps this is because my entire life things have been used as weapons against me. I have serious trust issues!

In all honesty I feel alone most days. It isn’t an alone that is repaired by having people around me either. It is hard to explain the loneliness I feel on a daily basis. To have success in conquering it I need to understand it and I do not. I find myself ignoring it most days by keeping busy. It is a temporary fix to a serious long term problem. Eventually I get to a point I can no longer ignore it and keep busy. It becomes so prevalent that is distracts me in many ways and it exhausts me. I eventually write as some way to alleviate it. Again I use a temporary fix to a long term problem. I know it is long term because I have dealt with this loneliness since I was a little girl. I have been a sick person my entire life and I believe this is where it originates. It escalated after I lost my dad at age eighteen. Every loss after that little by little it got bigger, and now with the loss of my lifelong friend, Andrew, it seems even larger than ever and makes me wonder what happens when it becomes so big I can no longer carry it around. It is a frightening to me because most of my life I have struggled with suicidal thoughts.

I have thought a lot about suicide lately. I haven’t thought about it as in I’m contemplating my final exit, but thinking about all those I have lost to suicide over the years. I also have been thinking on Robin Williams taking his life. I wonder if they felt the same way I feel with loneliness and eventually just decided to not fight anymore. What made them finally give up? Did they feel something else that I do not feel? Will I just end up like them one day? Will I be successful in this fight and be able to cope? When I think about Robin Williams, one of the most successful actors known, taking his life, I worry that if a man of that stature cannot handle things, what makes me think I will be any better. I am not financial set up like he was. I do not have a stage of the magnitude he had access too, to help him alleviate his worries. These are just some of the things I think on and not the darkest of them either.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to shut the entire world out. I find myself just wanting to be all alone so that I do not have to deal with anything outside my pain, illness and depression. My stuff is heavy enough without adding worldly things on top of it. It gets hard to work, parent, love, welcome, and interact.

Some are probably wondering if I have a relationship with God or a higher power. I do and maybe that is why I have made it as far as I have in my life conquering all the terrible events that have happened and demons that I carry. Maybe that relationship is the strength that keeps me going towards success against the suicidal thoughts and loneliness I feel. I would like to believe that I would never end my life on my own. I love life, I do. I love being a mother to my growing daughters. In the back of my mind I think about those who have actually taken their lives and think well they probably loved their kids too. They probably loved life too. What if I get where they were in their final moments? How do I prevent that? Can I prevent that?

I have questioned heaven since my dad passed in 1996. I wonder where it is he rests now. Is he just gone or is he really somewhere living a new life? Is it heaven? Has he any recollection of his life he left? Does he know I am here still? Does he see me? Does he live pain free and cured of all ailments? Can he hear me? Why can’t we communicate if these things existed? I would love it if it were all true, the story of heaven and angels silently flying around us, remembering who we were to them, but I have serious doubts that exists. I do not ask these questions just about my dad but everyone I have ever lost. I guess this is where faith comes into play. Faith is a very hard thing to understand. How do some people have such strong faith and others have little to none? Why do they differ so much? What is it about the person who has strong faith that lacks in the other? So many questions with no definite answer make spirituality and religion the most confusing thing I have ever seen.

Do I need to remind you I have serious trust issues? The circle of people who surrounds me closest knows the most about me, but still they do not have a complete picture of who Rachel really is. I am not sure they ever will. I have only had two people I can say knew me completely. Those two people are gone now. It isn’t that I don’t want my closest circle of friends to know all of me, I do! I just find myself struggling with allowing them to know my every thought because I have let people in who have burned me deeply. So that leaves me with thoughts I do not share with anyone at all. I hold them in and lock them away inside. So internally I struggle daily on my own with those secrets. Eventually I come here to my keys to release some of those secrets because most who read this blog do not know me from Jane next door. I am somewhat protected here. Even here I hold back because of the people who read this DO know who I am have used what I put here against me and it is very hurtful. I have no place to be completely open about WHOM I REALLY am inside.

The best example I can give you would be the loss of my friend Andrew. It never crossed my mind that I would go home to bury him. I always imagined he would out live me. I always thought he would just be there. I can’t share some of my feelings with anyone because some it would be hurtful maybe to others. Maybe it would be wrong to say it out loud or maybe it is wrong to feel it. Maybe I shouldn’t miss him as much as I do. Maybe if I say it out loud it will be a bullet used to shoot back at me. Just some things I see as complications that I am not ready to tackle so I hold it all close to myself. I also wonder what it all means. Why has losing him been such an impact on me internally? It makes me question so many things.

Another example is my struggle with sobriety. I cannot even release thoughts on that here out of fear it will be used against me.

Some are probably wondering why I do not just keep a private diary. The main reason is I want and need feedback about my thoughts. I need people to interact with me and tell me if I seem crazy or if I seem to normal. I also wonder if my thoughts are normal. Do others have these battles etc? It feels good knowing others struggle with the same sort of thoughts, and problems. It helps getting advice too on these subjects.

I think I worry too much. I worry about being sick. I worry about my health preventing me from being successful in college. Am I biting off more than I can chew? Will I have the support in my life to finish and not give up to quit once I start? I need peace. I want peace.

I am finding it harder to find peace. I use to be able to go out into nature and have peace. I do not seem to get that anymore. My constant worry and thoughts seem to always be there. They never seem to quiet. It has gotten so much worse since Drew has passed. I loved him and I have no one who would really understand what that means or why it is that way. I miss him every day and if I would say that out loud it would be used against me I know it. It might even get used against me being put here. I feel wrong for loving him and missing him and that is not fair to me. He is gone forever. There is no chance of me EVER hearing his voice, getting his advice, joking with him, or telling him how important of a friend he was to me. So this is just one thing I am alone with.

I do not write posts here very often. I am guarded with my thoughts because it can be used against me; it has been used against me. Yes, I have serious trust issues.

trusted you