Some of you may be surprised and some may feel it’s a given.
I was addicted to narcotics. I didn’t know it until I stopped taking them. My body was addicted eight weeks into my recovery. That fast. I was probably addicted sooner than that and had no idea.
Why did I stop taking them?
I wasn’t feeling the “high” that everyone talks about. I felt severe vertigo. The kind where I couldn’t lift my head from my pillow on my hospital bed located in my living room. I was unable to turn my head left or right without walls spinning.
I felt that something was inside of me, shredding the walls of my stomach with sharp claws. Gnawing, rummaging and finding nothing, gnawing more. That made me vomit or dry heave as I spoke to loved ones on the phone. I would swing the phone away from my mouth, so they couldn’t hear my soft gags, but I could still listen without ending our conversation.
These narcotics caused me immense discomfort, but lessened my pain, to an extent. My surgeon told my husband when I was released that I would still be in pain, but all we could do was hope I didn’t remember it. For months I was on the heavy hitters. Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Vistaril, Flexeril, Valim, Neurontin and Norco. AT THE SAME TIME! Plus my husband had to administer Lovenox injections into my mid section nightly.
The bad days, the most difficult days came through. Those I remember vividly. Those days keep me humble today.
How did I know I was addicted?
Irritable, sweating, then the shakes. Even through my delirium I knew what was happening to me. I told my husband I was having withdrawals and it would be a few days before I was “normal” again.
In my mind I was being proactive. Telling myself as soon as I could stand the pain, I was going to stop taking them. My body made the decision for me. Calling my surgeon, I explained everything. Telling him I couldn’t take all this medicine any longer, but I could barely exist without it. His decision was to let me decide. Calling me in a less powerful narcotic and allowing me to make decisions on when to use the “hard stuff”.
It was the worst kind of awful there was. I lived with it. The pain. The side effects of the medicines were competing with the pain of my injuries.
How could it get worse?
I rode it out in waves, every day. As months passed, I would look back, just as my surgeon suggested and could see where I was and how far I had come. That is what kept me pushing forward and the fact that as our four children walked in the door from the bus each afternoon, they would be the highlight of my days.
Working in the medical field I knew, I saw this happen to others. Real injuries, real pain that led to addiction. I knew I would never be that person…………until I was.
I am fortunate that the side effects leave an undesirable hold on me. Many are not as fortunate. For a couple of years after I stopped ingesting them routinely, I would take one at bedtime if I couldn’t knock the demon of pain back to where I could handle it. I allowed myself three nights of this and wouldn’t take a pill on the fourth. Even after all this time, my body desired this drug. Stopping on the fourth night caused me to sit in my recliner with jitters, restless leg syndrome, unable to focus and I knew completely if I went to my pill bottle, I could make it stop.
I suffered, prayed my way through it, eventually deciding it wasn’t worth the consequences of taking those bastards. Now I do everything I possibly can do ease my pain without them. Sometimes waiting too long and paying the price, but I will not go back there. I will sit full time in a wheelchair before I shove those down my throat daily.
I can fill a script for sixty pills a month if I want to. I believe I’ve picked up sixty in the last two years, only by choice.
I am so real. I am so humbled. I know exactly who I am and what I am capable of. This experience has taught me that. In my low moments I remind myself of that. There are times I must be gentle with myself and there are others that I scream and demand more of my courage and commitment.
It has been quite some time since my husband has created a spread sheet for my medicines, placed cups with filled with pills and times of when they should be administered on our kitchen counter. Gone are the days of setting alarms for those same pills. I couldn’t do it on my own in the beginning, but I am a different woman now. My head is clear, I know my path and I am Stronger than Yesterday.