Saturday, August 17, 2013

"I swear, I'm not a drug addict." Or at least I thought I wasn't.

When you are a chronic illness and a chronic pain patient you are double whammied with constant scrutiny and speculation of if the pain is really in your head or if you are actually in constant physical pain and really need those tiny little white pills of bliss...narcotics that is.

But I'm not even going to really go into narcotics in this post, because, I'm tired of drama, and I feel like a post about narcotics about drama. And there are other drugs in my life besides narcotics.

I will say this about narcotics. It was narcotics that just last week (or two weeks ago) made me more speculative about drugs in general, and if you know me, you know I'm speculative of them majorly already. I have also been off of narcotics as off a full 7 days as of the time of this post (and I quit them cold turkey). I miss my pain pill every once in a while, but I really missed the years of living I didn't do when I was sedated. When a bottle says take up to 4 times per day as needed, that does not mean that you HAVE to take it at least once a day, if you don't need it. The pain will always be there, if the pain pill didn't get rid of it the day before, it's probably not gonna get rid of it today, so why are you still taking it? I'm not addicted to drugs, or am I?

That would be the end of the narcotic conversation I swear. Now on to the other drugs I'm talking about.

Before I had chronic illnesses I usually refused to even take Tylenol let alone anything stronger than that. I couldn't even swallow pills until I was like 16 or 17 and the only reason I learned then is because I had to learn how to swallow Midol because I have Endometriosis and PCOS and it hurt. Bad. Every month. So I took Midol. But nothing more than that. Then I started taking birth control to try to control that issue, but quit because it was a drug, and it wasn't natural, and I didn't believe in drugs. Seriously, guys. This was 10 years ago.

It gets better.

I was so opposed to drugs of any kind that I wouldn't even take the drugs I needed for my Ulcerative Colitis on the right schedule or every day so I wouldn't heal properly. I almost died a couple of times from that. My GP in North Carolina was awesome and he knew my views on drugs. Heck I wouldn't even use an acne cream he tried to give me. So when I moved away from NC almost 2 years ago now (wow, has it really been that long), and I went to see him for the last time, he found out my mom was in the waiting room and came out into the waiting room and told her to make sure I took my meds on time and on a schedule so that I wouldn't end up almost dying again. This was less than 2 years ago.

Today, I take 21 mandatory pills a day (4 for migraines, 2 for dysautonomia, 1 for GERD, 1 for Colitis, 3 for Fibromyalgia, 3 for "seizure like activity", 5 vitamins, 1 muscle relaxer,  and 1 beta blocker). I have the option of adding up to 6 more as needed (4 pain killers and 2 nausea pills) and also Tylenol as needed if I get a break through migraine and Benadryl as needed to calm my ANS.

If I don't take my meds, my whole system goes into overdrive and I twitch and jerk and can't get out of bed and get irritable and very symptomatic. Sounds like withdrawal, no?

I mean, yes, I realize that taking these medications does not make me a drug addict, because they are medically necessary for very real health conditions I have and I cannot survive without them. But seriously.

I looked up some "drug addict quotes" and one that came up was this: "Addiction isn't about using drugs. It's about what the drug does to your life." Enrock Maregesi

These drugs control my life, whether I want them to or not. If I take them I have side effects that are sometimes worse than not taking them in themselves. If I don't take them I can't get out of bed because I will probably pass out or be in so much pain it's unbearable. They give me some of my quality of life back. They give me hope and promise for a possible small amount of a future. But I am not addicted to them. I hope and pray for the day I no longer have to take them anymore. I have gotten off some, been put on others, been put off and back on some and back off again. But sometimes it makes you wonder how much the drugs have control of you, and how much you have control of the drugs.

One example, the one that really made me think about writing this blog, happened yesterday...well, it's been happening over the period of several months.

I've had SEVERE nausea for years, 24/7 for years upon years, probably longer than 4, but we will go for 4. Well. None of the first line of defense nausea meds work for me. Zofran gives me killer migraines. Phenegren knocks me out, but that doesn't work for during the day, for obvious reasons. I've tired others, but I don't really remember the exact reasons why they don't work. But they don't. Well. There is this other drug, called Kytril, that is apparently 2000 bucks a month if you don't have insurance, that apparently works for everyone, that apparently Medicaid didn't wanna pay for for obvious reasons. So we've been trying to get a prior authorization for me for it since March!!! No lie. Like, I just wanna not be nauseous so I can attempt to eat. And the insurance is making me try every nausea med there is first, which is fine, but can we try them faster. If it gives me a migraine the first time I take it, do I really have to "try it" for 2 weeks. Because I wanna move on.

Anyways, I got THE CALL yesterday from the nurse at the GI office that I've been waiting for, the prior authorization was approved. I was getting the Kytril. I could not have been on the phone with my pharmacy faster, asking them how soon I could have it. Imagine my dismay when I found out they had to order it and the soonest they could get it was Monday. This was Friday, did I seriously have to live 3 more days with nausea, when I was so close to promises of symptom relief?

No, not me, I begged them to call the other pharmacies locally and see if any of them had it. Then when I found out one of them did, I called them and asked how fast they could have it filled. This was all taking place between 8 and 9 PM on a Friday night. I woke up at 4 AM on Saturday morning excited to go get my med from the pharmacy at 8. I got there, and they still hadn't faxed it properly and again begged to have it resolved so I could get the med (now just 2 days earlier). I finally got the Kytril this morning around 10:30 AM after finding out last night around 6 PM that it was approved for me to receive it. After at least 4 years of 24/7 nausea, and fighting with the insurance since March. I finally got the med and got it in me (and I am very happy to report that it does indeed work, and I have not noticed any major side effects yet).

My point in this story is, 10 years ago, I would not have even considered such a strong med, or a med at all ( I would just stick to my ginger, chiropractor, acupuncture route-which I do use, but it doesn't cut it). 2 years ago I would have said, "Oh, that's fine, I'll just wait to pick it up Monday." So what has changed in me that now, I need to have a prescription as soon as it is available? What has changed in me that has gone from I hate even going to the doctor for a physical to I'm at one almost every day? What has changed in me that I have gone from I won't try anything but natural approaches, to I'll try any med once?

I would like to think that my personality hasn't changed. That you can't just one day wake up and be an addict. But when someone promises you the hope of quality of life and you are chronically ill, you'll do almost anything.

You just have to remember perspective. Like the quote said (or didn't say, but what I'm taking from it), don't let the drugs take control of your life. You control your life, let the drugs help you feel better so that you can have a better quality of life, but don't let them control you. When you are automatically doling narcotics into your pill box on a schedule, it's time to quit them cold turkey. When you are willing to drive to the pharmacy at 3 in the morning to get an anti-nausea med so you can feel better, it's time to re-evaluate who has control of your life.

Speaking of who has control of your life. Saw this prayer from  on Pinterest a couple of days ago and thought it would be a perfect way to end this blog post. As a person with chronic illness, we have to remember that medications (drugs) have a very real place in our lives, and serve a purpose. So if you are feeling a little bit close to where I was (am), and are struggling with medications, read this prayer, pray it, and realize you aren't alone. There are so many of us fighting this battle together.

We aren't addicts, we need this medication to help us. Even the narcotics, as long as you're using them right :) Fight on friend, fight on :)

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