I’m going to try something drastic.
Necessary disclaimer: This post should in no way indicate that I do not believe in prescription medication. Sometimes prescription meds are very necessary. I am a huge fan. However…
Over the past decade, I have come to the realization that I do not like the person I have become. I am entirely dependent on my pharmacy to provide pills prescribed by doctors who don’t know what to do with me. Those pills make me… not like myself.
“Oh, you’re still in pain? Try Cymbalta, I’ve heard it works for pain.”
“Your back still hurts? Let’s throw some Lyrica in there.”
“Still hurting? Up that Lyrica. And you know what? Let’s add nortriptyline.”
“Now your heart rate is super high and you’re passing out at work? … Well, that ain’t good.”
The pharmacy is the moon that brings the tide. That paraphrased line from Stephen King’s “Misery” has always resonated with me; his psychotic nurse was the moon that brought the tide of relief in the form of narcotics. Even before getting run over by that car in 1999, Stephen knew his stuff when writing about pain.
So because of all the reactions I’ve had, I have decided to come down off my medication.
(I’m sorry. Look at that guy’s face. That’s a fantastic free image.)
Back to the point: I am tapering off my meds. All of them, if I can. I don’t care how long it takes or how hard it is or how much it hurts. (I say that now…) My spine specialist just broke up with me because I’ve become so complicated; instead of only having spinal pain, I have sharp jolts in my head, meat cleavers in my neck, black holes boring through my shoulders, burning in my feet, and/or numbness in my hands, depending on the day. And I realized, after almost passing out at work again because my heart rate was so high from medication, that these pills seem to be doing more harm than good. Another thunderous realization: I have no idea what my pain baseline is.
I’ve been in pain for more than a decade. I do not know what that pain actually feels like — not anymore. I’ve been throwing medication at it for so long that it’s evolved, growing into this monstrous creature that lives in a pool of black pitch; it breaks the surface to snatch me up and devour my fragile body, snapping my bones and pulping my organs between its cracked, stinking teeth before gripping its fingers into my shoulders and drowning me beneath that oily sheen.
But I only ever see that creature through a hazy gauze of prescription medication. Nerve meds, narcotics, whatever they are, they blind me to what is really, truly standing before me. I’m too busy forgetting how to spell words, losing my train of thought, or walking into walls because of medication side effects. This creature and I must be reintroduced.
So come with me on this trip (har dee frickin har). I tried to find support systems online, not necessarily for withdrawal of narcotic meds (since that doesn’t quite hit the marker for me), but for tapering off nerve medication. There is surprisingly little information to be found for those who want to do it instead of those who have to do it. From the message boards and articles I’ve seen, the withdrawal can be horrific.
I don’t know if this will work or if I’ll be able to stand it. I don’t know what I’ll be like on the other side, even if I make it through the withdrawal. I might be in too much pain to continue, but I need to know that. It’s going to be an extremely long process, and I will be under the direct supervision of my doctors. I am going to document everything that happens to me, everything I feel, everything that threatens to derail me.
In a bizarre way, I’ve grown up with this pain. I’ve gone through life being parented by these pills. I don’t know who I am without it, and in a large way, it is me. Even Husband has never known me without pain to some degree. And I am not under the illusion that I will somehow cure myself by going off my pills. My goal here is to lift away these layers of protection that have only been strengthened by the years and figure out what I am underneath it all.
There might be more pain. There might be less. But it will be me.