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!!
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.
There is another low coming for me. A tidal wave of negative. So here we are again at the keyboard to spit it on a crowd. Cut it open and let it bleed. I have a lot on my mind so lets go piece by piece in putting this part of the masterpiece together. This post needs to address the biggest force that brings my lows….pain.
The third wheel of all my relationships and the heaviest weight I am forced to carry every single day of my life. Let me go over briefly what pain I am referring too so new readers are not lost. I have a nerve tumor in my back, I have a tarlov cyst in my back, I have anklyosing spondilittis or A.S, I have fibromyalgia or FM, and recently I found out I have a heart problem.
Today I woke up to my left shoulder throbbing so bad I had to cry. I am forced to sleep on my sides because sleeping on my back paralyzes me from waist down due to the tumor next to my spine. I had to wrap up in heat, put on that wonderful smelling perfume called Bio-freeze, and medicate.
The shoulder has been a bigger problem for almost a week now. My shoulders always hurt but lately it has been especially bad. It very well could be from my A.S and if that is the case there is nothing I will be able to do about it. A.S is a progressive spine arthritis but also affects shoulders, rib cage, hips, knees, feet, it can cause lung and heart problems. Even though the shoulder has been a major source of pain for me the past week I have been able to push through it and go to work.
Ah, work…the one place I feel normal. The one place I have found that I can be myself completely and I’m accepted. Not only am I accepted but I am loved by many. I am very much in love with my job. I drive a school bus for those who didn’t know. My coworkers brighten my day. Even though they know about my medical problems they look at me with eyes of normalcy. They don’t look at me with pity. I know I am blessed that the job fell into my lap when it did. My students are absolutely fabulous! They brighten my day too. I can’t help but smile when I pick them up. They are very attached to me and the feeling is mutual. I think they are all going to grow up to be outstanding individuals. When I first took the job there were many times I was ready to throw in the towel. It is very hard during the winter months for me to physically do the job, but the kids I drive around have made me feel like such an important small part of their lives that they have actually helped lower my pain threshold.
I know that if this job had not come to me I would have killed myself. I was at the lowest point in my life when I was hired. I was pushing 200 pounds. I had been disabled and stuck at home since 2005. I lost all but two of my friends because I could no longer go out. I was being treated poorly by my husband. I had no support at all. I spent most nights crying myself to sleep. I spent most of my days orchestrating an easy way to leave my children, by me killing myself. I wrote letters saying good bye to those who truly meant the world to me. I wrote letters of apology to those who I have hurt throughout my life. It was a scary low. It was the first time in my life that I actually felt helplessness. I NEVER want to be back there again. When I say my job saved my life…I mean it literally.
I met my best friend at this job. I am so in love with her as a person that I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it now. She is my angel…and she is now my family. I love her very much.
Now getting up to start my day is truly a war for me. I have to fight through the stiffness to get out of bed. I have to fight through pain in my feet to walk into the bathroom. I have to cringe through the shoulder, back and hand pain to turn on the faucet to the shower. I have to cringe through the pain of stepping over into the tub to take my shower. I struggle reaching the body soaps, shampoo, and hope I can get them opened easily. Most mornings it isn’t so easy even with them strategically placed, which they are. A 30 minute super hot shower usually helps with the stiffness for about 20 minutes. By super hot, I mean hot enough to turn my flesh pink with a hint of red. I fight with pulling the shirt over my head, the jeans are causing excruciating pain as I bend to put my feet into them. The button and zipper are a nightmare for my hands.
So 20 minutes of relief has long passed and I have brushed my teeth but now have to combat the lower cabinet to bring out my make up case, hair dryer, and hope my hands will allow me to open my hair products and body sprays. I slowly walk to the kitchen to attempt to get my coffee mug ready. My daughter has already set up coffee pot because I have a hard time setting it up. The water is too heavy for my hands, the coffee is difficult to open, and my mug is set there with lid removed because well I can hardly remove it myself. Depressed yet? At this point in my morning I am not…yet….
I sit to do some heat therapy now in my recliner. The easiest chair for me to get out of. I wrap my back with heat, then wrap my neck and shoulder area. Ah another few moments of relief…..
I carry my coffee mug into the bathroom with both hands to prevent dropping it to continue getting ready. I take my medication with some coffee and have to fix my hair now. Raising my arms above my head feels like I am trying to lift 100 pound dumbbells over my head. The burning muscles begin from neck, down into my shoulders, radiating down my entire arm length in both. Depressed yet? …I am…at this point in my day I am starting to feel very low…
I got my hair done, ear rings in, make up is on finally, and now another battle to fight. My socks and shoes! I sit down because I can’t bend over to put them on like I could 15 years ago. What use to take less than 2 minutes…now takes 10 or so to complete. Another battle I’ve won…only to have a staircase to contend with.
My feet are killing me more with each step. Holding onto the rail going one step at a time with the crackling sound of my knees and pain from knee into my shin with each step slowing me down in this mission to get to work, I fight on. At the bottom of the steps I have a few more battles to get through…in the winter, even more with snow pants, and hat etc. The few I have now before winter gets here is my purse, coat, the door, and the car. The coat is the easiest battle. I have to cringe through more pain in the shoulders to get it on along with burning in my arms, and neck. OK battle won! Coat is on and now I just have to put my purse on one of my painful shoulders, grab my keys and turn that door knob to get into the garage to the car. The door knob is NOT going to win. I bite on my lip as my hand wraps the knob to turn it. My fingers are aching so bad I want to just let loose but I don’t. I HAVE to get to my car.
YES! I got the door open and was able to close it. Battle won! I start feeling accomplished at this point in my day…just briefly though…I walk around the car and realize this is the toughest thing I do at this point in my day….this battle reminds me everyday just how sick I am…getting into my car.
I fight to get the car door opened. SUCCESS! Now toss my purse hard enough to land in the passenger seat because bending over the driver seat to place it is not an option for me anymore and opening two car doors is not an option anymore either just for a purse. By this time I am breathing hard…feeling my heart starting to race and my entire body hurts. Now I have to get in…thankful I have a Jeep now so at least I don’t have to bend lower to get in though the Jeep is difficult too. Ah, bending to sit at the steering wheel I can feel the tarlov cyst pressing against the tumor…I can feel the tumor starting to pulsate from being pushed by the tarlov cyst….now I start to pray….dear God let my medication kick in and please be with me Lord in my pain…help me stay positive, happy, and not angry over these trials…please help me get to work safely so I can be a positive part of the kids day…help me be a positive force in my coworkers day…most of all Lord help me with my addiction, please help me stay sober today, and thank you for all you do for me…amen. ((I am a recovering opiate addict))
Yeah that is a normal morning for me….and I haven’t even covered the parts when I actually get to work. It is so exhausting. It is very hard not to roll over and just give up…it exhausts me so much…it has changed me forever…in some ways it has been wonderful change…but other ways it has been a scary secret of wanting to die, thoughts of ramming my car into buildings, thoughts of jumping off bridges, thoughts of stepping out in front of a driver….a loneliness that makes me want to just climb inside myself and disappear from the public and family…a scary shadow following me daily urging me to find some opium…or oxycotin…begging me to find it so I can feel good for just one day…a whisper in my ear telling me one day won’t hurt…two won’t hurt…come on….someone has to have them….just ask…a whisper reminding me just how good it felt when I was high on it…a craving in my gut for that euphoric feeling that opiates give you…
The low is creeping in…as it normally does…and it has me sitting at the keyboard once again…exposing my scars…my flaws for all to see…for all to use if they choose too…you are a witness to…me being painted blue…by this strange thing we call life….a masterpiece in the making.