I want to talk about being sick and a recovering addict today.
Let’s talk about being sick first. I just recently had a rheumatoid doctor diagnose me with Anklyosing Spondylitis (A.S) and well though we have thought for a long time I’ve had this disease we waited as long as we could to medicate me with immune suppressants. I came to a point in the disease I had no other choice but to start on humira. It is an injection I take every two weeks. I give it to myself now.
I was waking up so stiff I needed help to get out of bed when I finally went to doctor for medication for the disease. It became horrible. I have been on humira since May of 2013. I have noticed considerable change in my body with the medicine. It has been such a change that I wish I had gone on the humira sooner then what I decided. I avoided the medicine out of fear that it suppresses the immune system. I am still concerned about it making me sick with cancer, or flu like stuff one day but the relief I have received thus far is worth the risk.
I have so many health issues. It wears me out. It is exhausting being so sick with so many problems. None of which have a cure either! It is a daily battle for me to get out of bed and carry on my day as normally as I can to fit in to society. Some days I just hold myself up at home because that is all I can do those days. I have a tarlov cyst that is a constant source of pain. I have a neuroma that is a constant source of nerve pain, burning sensations, and fatigue. I have fibromyalgia which has become a nightmare of burning muscles, weak muscles, over active sensory problems like over sensitive to light, sun, noise, smells, and motion. Now on top of those things I have A.S. Which is a progressive arthritis of the spine and joints. The A.S leaves me fatigued, pain in the back, knees, elbows, feet, hips, neck and lower back. It is so damn exhausting!
There have been many nights I have thought about ending it all. To be honest the only thing that keeps me around are my beautiful daughters. I love them so much. I love being their mom. They are why I live. I know it is sad to read that I am suicidal and probably makes you wonder how stable am I to even think these things…well it might not be normal to think about ending it for you…but I know living with chronic pain the way I do makes it very normal. I am not a risk to myself because I have found something to live for even in the darkest hour of my pain, illness and fatigue. My kids. I have not found a way to stop the ideas from creeping into my thoughts at times but I don’t act on them. I don’t think I ever would for a few reasons. The biggest being my wonderful daughters. The second is my faith in Christ. I know I suffer these ailments for a reason. I am not sure the reason yet in my life but when it is all said and done it will be clear why I had to live my life the way he chose. The final reason are the friends I have today. The support they have for me is like coming up for fresh air in the middle of an ocean.
I try very hard to stay positive. I wake up and tell myself something positive and remind myself through the day that I have so much to be thankful for so do not focus on the pain. Some days this is so hard to do…some days I am so tired from fighting against the pain that I have no energy left for anything and that to breathe takes everything left in me.
Living a life like mine isn’t easy. It doesn’t help when you don’t get support or understanding from those around you either. I know I have had friends think I didn’t care for them as much as I say because I don’t hang out with them often. I don’t call them a lot. I am not sure what to do about that. My energy reserve is very low and most of what I do have has to go to my two kids first. Usually I have none left to share with anyone. When I am working it is even worse. Hell my kids then get very little of my time. I work, cook dinner and go right to bed only to repeat this same routine five days a week. I get a summer vacation when school is out so that is a nice break for me. The summer break allows my kids to get more of my time and energy. Unfortunately my friends do not.
Is that fair? No I don’t think it is. I only know that I can’t change the way I feel. I take one day at a time. I hope I have friends now that understand this part of me and know I do love them regardless of the time we spend together. I have lost lots of friends over the years because I am sick. They got pissed off I couldn’t do what they wanted me to do and quit talking to me. The friends I have lost I know now were just users. They were only my friend because I could do something for them at the time. When it came down to the point in my life I couldn’t help them they weren’t interested. Sure, it hurts to lose friends in the moment, but as I have had time pass I have come to realize they were really never friends. They were what I call users. We all have these in our lives at some point. Some hang on to them longer then they should if you ask my opinion.
Anger is a huge issue I have. I fight the anger demon daily too. I get so pissed off at my circumstance. It eventually leads to loneliness. I feel angry that I’m sick and can’t do the great things I want to do then I end up feeling lonely because I realize in this battle I am truly alone. I am the one who has to walk with the pain, sleep with the pain, wake with the pain and no one knows this but me. It gets hard for those around me to understand because I don’t look sick. I look like a vibrant 35 year old woman but my looks deceive you.
The pain is a third wheel in all my relationships. It gets pretty damn exhausting carrying this wheel around everywhere I go. It interferes with friendships, my marriage, my relationship with my children, hell it even interferes with my own self on a daily basis. It is crazy I have to wake up every single day and have a plan on what I will spend my energy on. I have some energy for a shower, some energy for my kids, some energy for cooking dinner, doing laundry that day, and energy to give to my husband when he gets off work. Hell most of the time I have NONE when he gets home and it is very frustrating. It gets even more frustrating when he doesn’t seem to grasp understanding of what all is wrong with me.
I am also a recovering addict. The health shit I carry around interferes with my sobriety on a daily basis. I am an opium addict. I became an opium addict in 1995. I left home to clean myself up in 1999. I have had one relapse in sobriety and that was in 2006 after my first back surgery when a doctor put me on Oxycontin. I abused the pills for about a year and in 2007 I went cold turkey again and have battled everyday since to stay clean. The Oxycotin battle went well into 2011. My addiction did not start with pills though. My addiction started with smoking it in a pipe. I think about opium every single day at least once. I think about how numb it makes you and how you feel no pain on it. I think to myself often if I could just smoke a pipe of opium I’d have no pain at all and could be normal…being a chronic pain patient makes being a recovering addict even harder to do.
Right now I wish I was high. If I were high right now I wouldn’t feel the pain in my lower back, my hands wouldn’t be aching, and my neck and shoulders would be completely relaxed. These are just some things I think about on a daily basis. What stops me from acting on these thoughts? Well simple….my kids. Again they are the reason I try to be a role model. I want them to have the best life possible and grow into responsible, caring, normal adults and that requires me to stay clean.
I am very fortunate. I know many addicts don’t get away from the grasp of opiates. Hell most end up heroin addicts. I know this. I’ve lost friends to this trend of opiate abuse that lead them to heroin. If I had not left home when I did I probably would have been led to heroin too. I would have used it to medicate my pain away and would have ended up strung out on it and eventually killing myself. I know this without a doubt. I know once you do heroin it grips so tightly that it is a miracle to get away from it. I take one day at a time.
I avoid opiate users. I have had doctors note my medical file to avoid long term prescriptions and if ever prescribed it must be very small amount and there must be no other options. I am glad I was educated enough at the time I left my hometown that I knew to have a successful shot at staying clean you had to change your entire life scene. That is what I did and I think that is why I was successful in getting clean and staying clean for so long. I honestly think I would not have relapsed at all had I not been put on Oxycontin for pain. These things happened for a reason. I am not 100% sure the reason but I know Christ has one. Maybe it was to make me a better mother then what I would have been had I not done these drugs. Maybe it was to show others that it can be done. YOU CAN GET CLEAN and stay that way. Maybe I became an addict because I was suppose to leave my hometown so I could have a shot at a better life. I don’t know. All I know is I am thankful. Even when I wake angry about it, even when I feel so lonely in it all, even when I think that things would be better if I ended it, I end up where I belong. I end up being thankful and remembering why I carry on. I remember how I cleaned myself up and understand that in itself is a remarkable feat.
I know having chronic pain for the rest of my life is not going to be easy. It hasn’t been easy yet. I know living with my pain leaves me very vulnerable to relapsing again. These things I make sure I don’t forget. It keeps me vigilant against the monster lurking just around the corner in a pill bottle, a pipe, or powder. I take one day at a time and pray often. I love my friends that understand my problems and are there to support me when I need them. I love them for understanding that even if I can’t hang with them often I think of them often. They are the other reason I stay clean and carry on.
Everyone has their own story to tell. Everyone has their own struggle to fight. This is just a piece of mine. Thank you for reading. It felt good to let it out.