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Cymbalta sucks. People should sue its makers.

Look, yes, Cymbalta probably saved my life. But it also sucks. So, I’m not surprised people are suing Eli Lilly, the makers of the drug.

I can still remember talking to a nurse over the phone at the Mayo Clinic’s pain rehab program when she mentioned Cymbalta. It was the same pain program my insurance company would eventually deny, prompting the Mayo Clinic to ask for $35,000 up-front, and prompting me to laugh in their faces and instead buy a $7 Yoga DVD at Best Buy and hope for the best.

Anyway, yeah, the nurse. She was all, “Oh! Cymbalta is a WONDERFUL drug! So many people love it! And it works so well! That’s a great drug to go on when you go off opioids!”

But all I could think was, “Obviously you have never been on Cymbalta or opioids or had chronic pain, because Cymbalta sucks.”

I always tell people I was tricked into starting the drug.

My doctor, whom I really do love, put me on it about a year and a half ago. He brought it up at my first appointment with him — the same appointment I also decided to confess that I was having suicidal thoughts daily. He told me he was putting me on Cymbalta because it had been shown to help with pain. I’d later find out that was only half the reason.

When I went to a follow-up appointment, the doctor asked if  Cymbalta had helped with my pain at all. And because my pain is stronger than the U.S. military, it hadn’t. But, then came the reveal.

“Well, how’s your mood?” he asked, slowly.

“Actually, better,” I replied, realizing that had been his secret plan all along.

But you know what? I can sincerely tell you that I didn’t want to kill myself anymore. I mean, I still thought about it, but the drug had sort of diluted the thoughts, and made them less of a legitimate option and more of a fleeting idea I had in passing.

And I totally get why my doctor did what he did. Because when someone is suicidal, it just makes sense that staying alive is the one and only goal. So, in the beginning I was fine with whatever worked — and it just so happened that Cymbalta is what worked for me.

Until it didn’t.

Cymbalta was able to keep the suicidal thoughts away, but it also kept a lot of other thoughts away too. Like my creative thoughts, my writing thoughts and, honestly, my sex thoughts. The drug straight up slaughtered my sex drive.

It also made me so tired. Like, sleep-for-16-hours-a-day tired. Yes, it had help from all the other drugs I’m on, but I can clearly tell you that the fatigue is worse than it was before I started taking Cymbalta.

So, a couple months ago I tried to go off it. I chose the only method I knew and cut it out cold turkey. Within just two days, my writing voice came back like the great flood. And I was getting turned on by my boyfriend again. I even got to see and understand 8 a.m. again for the first time in like a year.

All was well with the world. Except when suddenly it wasn’t. Because Oh. My. God. The withdrawal symptoms from Cymbalta were hell.

Less than a week after my last pill, I was getting so dizzy that I seriously thought I had a new disease. Then, there was this thing called the brain zaps, that I didn’t understand until they happened to me. In short, it literally felt like my brain was being, well, zapped by electricity.

There was also nausea and vertigo and just an overall feeling of falling off a skyscraper.

I can honestly tell you that going off Cymbalta was worse than going off any opioid I’ve ever been on. At least with opioids it only takes like 18 hours to get out of your system, and when it’s over, it’s over. Cymbalta lingered. It took it’s time with me. It gradually poured on the withdrawal symptoms in a tortuous piling on.

So, a week after I went off it, I went back on it.

Apparently though, I’m not the only one staring down at a lifetime of daily Cymbalta doses. According to the Internet, (always a reliable source) there’s a possible class action lawsuit being brought against Eli Lilly.

“Studies show that between 50% and 78% of Cymbalta users experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing the drug. Yet the drug label misleadingly states that Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms occur in only 1% to 2% of cases,” claims attorney Steven D. Gacovino.

You can read more about it here.

Now, I literally have no idea how legit this whole thing is. Can you really fill out a form on a random website and be part of  a class action lawsuit? I have no idea. But I can tell you that I totally submitted the form.

If nothing else, doctors should be telling their patients about this. They should have a conversation that goes something along the lines of, “Hey, this drug might quell your suicidal thoughts, but you’re never going to be able to go off of it. I mean, you will, but it will be hell. You’ll probably get vertigo and brain zaps and you may not be able to stand up without falling over. Also, there’s no telling how long those withdrawal symptoms are going to last.”

If nothing else, patients deserve to know the truth. I deserved to know the truth.

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I’m still alive. My ribs still hurt though.

My ribs still hurt.

Yesterday was awful. I was working from home and I managed to stay with my laptop until about 3:30 p.m., but then, after that, I just laid in bed and watched hours and hours of TV while I prayed for the Hydrocodone to work. But it never really did.

Today was sort of alright, so I took a shower. I know. Crazy, right? To be honest, I’m pretty much at a stage in my life where I only shower two or three times a week. All the effort and the moving my right arm to wash my hair just seems to make my ribs hurt more, and it’s just not worth it to put myself through that every single day. I used to at least put dry shampoo in my hair on the off days, but that stuff doesn’t really work that great, so I’ve pretty much given up on that now too. Instead, I just throw my hair up in a bun.

It’s called: Working from home.

I do shower the one day of the week I drive into the office, or when I’m traveling for business. Obviously. Gawd, people, I have some standards.

Speaking of work, I’m flying to Atlanta tomorrow to go to the National Convenience Store Show. It’s my third business trip in six weeks. After this though,  I should be in Illinois for the rest of the year.

My boyfriend’s technically from Atlanta, although he only spent five years of his life there. I spent four years of my life in Macomb, Illinois going to WIU, but I barely even remember how to get there. He, however, still roots for the Atlanta Braves like they’re his hometown baseball team. I think it’s because the Cubs (his second favorite team) well, let’s just say they have problems winning and stuff.

Anyway, I miss my boyfriend. Lots. We are still managing to see each other at least once or twice a week, but the long distance thing sucks. Lots.

And my ribs still hurt. I think deep down he’s still hoping I’m going to get “cured” but that’s looking less and less likely.

I did get in to see a doctor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently.

It’s university-level care, so it should be top notch. He was pretty cool, and he didn’t seem overwhelmed by my case, so I’m going to stick with him for awhile.

He referred me to their pain specialty department, but they won’t even make an appointment to see me until they get all my medical records from Loyola. It’s been three weeks and Loyola still hasn’t sent the records though. So I’m basically in holding pattern.

And I’m spending my days trying to space out my hydrocodone waiting to see a pain doctor who hopefully won’t freak out about me being on opioids. The last two refills I got on that drug have been from primary care doctors and both of them have been super weary about giving it to me.

They’re all “You take four a day? EVERY day???!!” And I’m all, “Yes. When I said level 8 or 9 pain every day, I wasn’t joking.”

And let’s be honest. If only need four in a day, I’m having an AWESOME day.

On aside, my new doctor did say my symptoms were very severe for someone with intercostal neuralgia. He said he thought I might have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in my ribs, although he followed that up by saying that CRPS is usually only in your arms or legs. And everything I read online seems to confirm that, so I’m not sure how correct that was.

He also added a new medication to my list of prescriptions, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. Although it’s one of those long-term meds, so it takes at least a month before you know if it’s working.

And, as of right now, the pain is still horrible.

I was having a hard time eating yesterday because I was in so much pain, and I turned to my mom and I said, “Well, I guess I have good days and I have bad days.”

And she said, “What’s a good day look like? I don’t think I’ve seen one of those.”

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Why is this happening to me?

I’ve gotten into a circle of asking “why” lately.

As in, “Why the hell is this happening to me?”

I know. I know. It’s cliche.

But I just. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why this is happening to me.

I hate it so, so much.

Last night I did too much, and I was sitting in my car, and I still had to make the hour-and-a-half drive home from the area where I work, and I was in seriously excruciating pain, and it was just radiating throughout my right ribs, and I just wanted to die so, so much and all I could think was, “Why?”

Did I do something to deserve this? Was I an awful person at some point, and this was my punishment? Was I mean to someone and I didn’t realize it, and now I’m going through this as a result of that?

Am I paying for the sins of my youth? For all the stupid mistakes I made in my 20s?

Because if I am, I am truly, truly repentant.

People are always trying to find the good in this. I don’t blame them. I want to find good in evil too.

But I don’t see any good in this.

I play out crazy scenarios in my head where I start foundations and help millions of people with similar problems, but then I just think that even that is horrible because those people shouldn’t ever have to go through something like this. It is so, so awful.

Or, maybe I will sue the hospitals that have brushed me aside and ignored my cries for help and misdiagnosed me and I will get millions of dollars. But trust me, I would rather have my health any day of the week.

Last night, the pain was so horrible and I found myself thinking about driving off the road again, wishing I was dead. Praying for an end.

Someone actually told me recently that I shouldn’t kill myself, because if I commit suicide I’d go to hell and that would be worse than whatever I’m enduring now.

How horrible is that?

Do you think that’s true? I’m seriously in so much pain that I pray to die every day, and I can’t even kill myself because God would send me to hell to be tortured more? How awful is that?

Methodists don’t believe that. I used to attend a Methodist church, so I guess technically I don’t believe that either.

But I feel like I don’t know anything about God these days, so who knows.

Because what kind of God would allow this to happen to me? Or anyone? What kind of God would let someone suffer such horrible physical pain day after day after day? With no cause, no cure? No relief?

I had to fly to a business trip last week, and I looked out the plane at all the little houses on the ground, and all the cars on the road, and everything looked so tiny. And for the first time in my life I thought, “Maybe God isn’t really involved in all this. Maybe it’s all too much for Him. Maybe we are really just super selfish to believe that one creator could possibly be involved in all of our stupid little lives.”

I have to tell you, I feel pretty alone right now. Like I’m fighting this one without any help from up above.

And the idea that maybe I’m just a meaningless speck on this little blue planet is starting to make more and more sense.

I still pray before dinner. I still listen to Christian music.

I still want to believe so, so, so bad.

But I’m feeling pretty deserted at the moment.

And I just can’t understand why this is happening to me. Why this would happen to anyone.

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