I feel truly lonely when I’m seriously ill. The last time I was sick was when I was dealing with Percocet addiction, and taking a cocktail of about 15 pills a day for depression, pain, insomnia, hot flashes, and then all of the side effects from drug interactions. I had to take Miralax to counteract the constipation from the Percocet and then had to over-drink water to make up for the dehydration the diarrhea created. My stomach was in a constant state of cramping from the Miralax. I could barely walk outside because I would shit in my pants if I wasn’t close to a toilet. I shit on my bed sleeping, and finally had to buy adult diapers and line my bed with plastic sheets and towels.
I begged my psychiatrist to help manage my drugs better, but I have found that psychiatrists are doctors that treat diseases, not people. He stared at me with cold eyes and told me “that’s not my job” and then looked at his watch as though to remind me my 15 minutes was up.
The wait for a Pain Center appointment is over a year, so getting their help was impossible. I was seeing a neurologist, physiatrist, orthopedic surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, my GP, physical therapy, acupuncture, Alexander practitioner, massage therapist, chiropractor, all at the same time, that’s how desperate I was for relief of my pain and some sort of control over my meds. I was in the Emergency Room constantly. I knew the ER doctors. My GP tried me on other opioids which made my head spin so terribly I was throwing up constantly.
I went through the withdrawal process twice: Once I had to in preparation for a subclavian bypass. The surgeon wouldn’t do the surgery unless I cut down my Percocet consumption. I didn’t stop it, but I cut it down, so this withdrawal was bad, but not as bad as the total withdrawal that followed.
After I recovered from the surgery, I increased my meds again, and back to the same cycle of misery.
One day I decided to give it all up cold turkey. My neurologist urged me to reduce my meds one by one so I could have better control over my withdrawal symptoms, but I was desperate to have it all out of me so I could start from a clean slate and try to figure out the minimum drugs I needed.
I thought the withdrawal process would be just a couple of days of hell and then I’d be better. But such was not the case. For at least two weeks my depression hit rock bottom. I couldn’t stop crying and squirming in agony. Every pore in me hurt. I threatened Hubby that if he didn’t start helping me get better I’d kill him and then kill myself so no one would ever catch me. I wanted to get into my car and drive it off a bridge or into a wall, I felt so deeply depressed and sick, with no relief. I found a beautiful documentary about The Buddha by David Grubin and watched and rewatched it over and over and over and over as I tried to wait it out. I took a pen and wrote “Om Mani Padme Hum” on my bed sheet and then retraced it with the pen again and again. It’s still there.
It took at least a month, maybe two, before I could actually have a day where I felt normal again.
Although many who read my blog may think I lead a screwed up life, smoking pot and taking Ativan, this is the first time my chronic pain, depression, and anxiety are under control with no side effects. There are reasons for this, the primary being that instead of being gentle to my body, I’ve discovered I really need to exercise it hard (just under the point of injuring myself, which is why, when the weather is warm, the running I do is Chi Running) and be dedicated to flexibility. The performance enhancing part of pot helps me push myself. I’ve replaced one yoga session with a foam roller session now. With the foam roller I can work out knots from not only my quads, iliotibial band and glutes, but also my back muscles and shoulders — maybe some of that is scar tissue from cancer treatments. The foam roller hurts like hell, but with the pot as a pain reducer, I can target the knots more accurately without the pain making them inaccessible.
I do yoga religiously every day, and force myself out to do a hard hike every day. I meditate 2-3 times a day. I’ve cut out online gaming, which I had been using as an escape from my pain. Now there’s just no time for it. Except for watching with Hubby, I rarely watch Netflix now. When I was on Percocet, I’d spend part of my day doing origami, and the rest of the day in bed watching Netflix. Now I blog, read other blogs, read books, and take photos when I can. Whenever I get the urge to go to bed and rest and watch Netflix, I think of the things on my daily to-do list and knock off one of those instead.
I would say cold turkey withdrawal of opioids and all of the other drugs I was taking, chemotherapy, and miscarrying at home were the three loneliest times of my life. They say that only through suffering can you be made stronger, so I feel lucky, thankful, and joyful for where I am today.
When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?