Tag Archive: hydrocodone

What it feels like to go off hydrocodone cold turkey (for me anyway)

Yesterday — partly because of my own stupidity and partly because the only pharmacy in Byron, Il closes at 7 p.m. — I had to go off hydrocodone cold turkey.

And it was hell.

I ran out on Wednesday evening and I immediately went over to the pharmacy to ask them to call in a refill. But, the doctor’s office was already closed. So they said they couldn’t refill it until the next day.

No big deal. I could make it through the night. And I didn’t want to make a big deal of it and come off like a crazy drug addict.

So, back home I went.

And normally going one night really wouldn’t be that bad, because I take a pretty strong drug to make me fall asleep every night.

But the thing is I had to go into the office the next day. On no pain drugs. And, because my office is two hours away, that meant I wouldn’t get home in time to pick up the prescription before the pharmacy closed for the night.

My mom ended up driving me into work because I have realized that the two-hour drive each way makes me suicidal.

Even with her help, going off the hydrocodone cold turkey was still enough to almost kill me.

When I got to work I headed right for the bathroom, because I had buckets of diarrhea shooting out of me.

My palms were sweating and my rib pain was intensifying.

I lived through that and went to a morning meeting.

After that, I had planned to go to lunch with my mom, but suddenly my boss decided she wanted to take our team out to lunch so all of a sudden I had to look professional for a two-hour business lunch while I was in opiate withdrawal.

I popped some Tylenol hoping they would help take the edge off.

After I got back from the lunch I told my editor that’d I be over to his office in a bit to talk after I finished up some work at my desk.

Then, I ran to the bathroom. More diarrhea.

I was so weak, and my muscles hurt so bad that I just sat on the toilet with my jeans around my ankles, leaned my head against the blue bathroom stall, and prayed to die.

I got myself together, pulled up my pants, washed my hands and made it back to my desk, where I laid on the floor, resting my head on my puffy pink coat, until I could find the will to stand up again.

When I finally walked over to my editor’s desk to talk about the newsletter, so much time had passed that he said, “Wow, you must have had a lot of work to do. I thought you might have left for the day.”

We chatted for a bit, and then I ran back to the bathroom. More diarrhea.

I wanted to go to the hospital so bad. My ribs hurt like hell. My body ached all over. And I just wanted to be dead.

I thought about laying on the floor by my desk in the fetal position and making my mom come up to the office to get me.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I gathered up all the strength inside me, and got my things together so I could go home for the day.

As I walked over to say goodbye to my boss, I thought maybe I had at least pulled off giving him the impression that everything was fine. But when I told him I was leaving, he said, “Wow, it looks like you barely made it through the day.”

I tried to sleep on the way home, while my mom drove, but I was in so much pain that I wouldn’t really call it sleeping. Needless to say we didn’t make it home in time to get to the stupid pharmacy before they closed at 7 p.m.

And so, I had a long night ahead of me.

I tried to go to sleep as soon as I walked in the door, but every single joint in my body hurt.

It felt like a knife was in my ribs, and pain was radiating through my bones. I kept having to run to the toilet because of the diarrhea, but there was nothing left inside of me to come out.

I prayed for relief.

I prayed with all my heart that God would let me die that night. That he would take my life. That I would finally get the true relief I’ve been seeking for months and I would get to go to heaven.

I begged God for this to end.

My ankles felt simultaneously swollen, sprained and twisted. It felt like I had full-on tendonitis in my wrists. My body felt broken — all over.

And I didn’t think I would make it through the night.

I tossed and turned all night.

I thought about suicide. I thought about how much I hate hydrocodone.

I thought that once it got out of my system I would never go back on it.

But even as I thought it, I immediately knew it was a lie.

I knew I would go back on it the very second I got a refill in the morning. I knew because while my whole body was attacking me, there were my right ribs, screeching at me, haunting me, reminding me that I needed the hydrocodone.

My amazing mom drove to the pharmacy this morning to get my refill, and when the new dosage kicked in, I finally felt like I could breathe again.

I don’t want to be on this stupid drug. I really, really don’t. I hate that half the doctors I see accuse me of being a drug addict. I hate the I have to constantly wonder if I am a drug addict.

But more than that, I hate living my life feeling like I’ve just been stabbed in the ribs.

Some people out there might choose to forego the hydrocodone so they could avoid being on an opiate. Some people out there might be strong enough to preserve through this horrible, horrible intercostal neuralgia pain without strong pain pills. And, some people out there might be able to live like that.

I am not one of those people.

Quality of life matters to me.

Having even a few hours a day when the pain is at a minimum is important to me. And if that means my body is physically dependent on a federally regulated opiate, then so be it.

All I can tell you is that the pain that stabs through my right ribs every single day of my life really is that bad.

Hydrocodone

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Some thoughts about my drugs.

I’m having a pretty good day.

And by that, I mean, a pretty good “pain” day. That’s how my whole life is defined now.

Yesterday sucked though.

Yesterday I was in agony.

I think maybe it was because my birthday on Friday and my boyfriend came out to visit, and my whole family took me to Olive Garden for dinner, and maybe it was all too much for me and I was paying for it on Saturday. Or, maybe it was the weather. Or maybe it was because the fan in the living room was blowing at some crazy angle.

Or maybe God was just p*ssed off at me.

Whatever the reason, the pain was awful, and so, I ended up taking extra hydrocodone.

I’m supposed to take “one every six hours,” but I’ve been taking the stuff for months now, and many, many times “one every six hours” has the same effect as an M&M would.

Sometimes that means I end up taking “one every four hours.” Other times that means I end up taking “two every six hours.”

But then, every couple of days, I have to sit down and count out how many days I have left until I can get a refill, and then count out how many pills I have left and divide the two and start rationing it out.

As of right now, I have about three pills a day to get me to my next refill.

I already know that’s not going to be enough.

Here’s the thing, it’s not that I used to judge people who used excessive amounts of painkillers in the past. It’s more that, before I got sick, I just never even thought about them.

But now. Now, I sit down on Sunday mornings, open the orange prescription bottle, dump out the pile of powdery white pills, and count out each individual one, and by extension calculate how much pain I will have to endure over the next three weeks.

I already know that there is no way I can get through the next three weeks with three pills a day.

My plan right now involves one part prayer, and two parts new doctor, who I see Sept. 10.

But, my experience with medical professionals thus far though has been, “Oh well.” As in, “You better find a way, because as long as you’re not bleeding out, it’s not our problem.”

But that’s the thing, it really, really does feel like someone is stabbing me with a butcher knife.

I have endured the worst pain in my entire life over the last six months.

Pain that makes me consider suicide on a daily basis. As in, I seriously plan out how I can kill myself. As in, I was seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in helping people who deal with chronic pain because I was fantasizing about driving my car off the road or swallowing all my pills before I went to bed at night.

I am in that much pain on a regular basis. And I am not exaggerating when I tell that you that there are things in this world worse than death.

But because I am not visually bleeding out, because my blood work comes back normal, because nothing ever shows up on any MRIs, I get 120 hydrocodone a month, and no more.

If someone rushed into the ER with a gushing stab wound, they would never be denied the pain relief they need.

Or maybe they would. But that would be tragic.

Because pain eats at you. It messes with your head. And it changes you so much faster than you think it will.

And there is a pill out there that can take my pain away. And I don’t want to take it so I can get high. I don’t want to take it so I can feel like I don’t have any troubles, or like I’m floating or whatever.

I want to take it so that I can get some relief from the metal claw digging into my ribs and maybe think clearly enough to see into tomorrow and remember that I do want to keep on living.

It’s so, so easy to sit on the outside of pain and judge people though.

It’s easy to say things like,

“Well, you can’t just depend on the pain pills, because you’ll end up building a up a tolerance to them, and then where will you be?”

Or,

“You need to take the number of pills the doctor tells you to take because that’s what the doctor says and that must be right and he must know exactly how many pills it will take to take your pain away without giving you a drug addiction.”

But that’s all bullsh*t when you’re in so much pain you want to kill yourself.

When you seriously want to end your life because you cannot handle the amount of agony that has engulfed your right ribs, the very last thing you give a crap about is the possibility that “two hydrocodone every six hours” instead of “one hydrocodone every six hours” might lead you to a life of pain pill addiction.

Or maybe you are different.

Maybe you would have a clear head and think differently in that situation, and maybe you would be able to endure hours and hours of the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, while a bottle of hydrocodone pills that could give you the relief you need were sitting right there on your dresser, and maybe you wouldn’t reach for them.

But I doubt it.

Pain Pill Bottles

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Surviving the move: An ER visit, a shot of dilaudid and some steroids

So, ya, the move was pretty stressful.

I mean, I didn’t really think I was getting stressed out or anything, but I guess my body was stressed because on Friday night, just 12 hours before I was supposed to pick up the U-Haul, my “intercostal neuralgia” pain was seriously the worst it has ever been ever.

I’m talking stabbing pain that felt like a machete inside my right ribs, mixed with the feeling of being dropped off the side of a moving train and landing on a field of jagged rocks.

Horrible, horrible pain.

I was laying in my bed at about 10 p.m., trying to figure out how many hydrocodone I could take without running out before I was due for a refill, when I realized that all I really wanted to do was kill myself.

And then I started thinking that the pain that I was in, right then, was literally Hell.

That all I wanted it to do was end it. And that if dying was the only option, I was ok with that. In fact, I was sort of in favor of that.

So, I told my mom and my brother that I should probably go to the emergency room. And then I said  many, many swear words.

Pain does that to you.

They took me to some ER in Joliet.

I refused to go to the ER right by my house, because the doctor there was the one who originally misdiagnosed me with an ulcer and wasted a month of my life telling me I couldn’t eat tomatoes and giving me the wrong treatments, and what with all the pain I was currently experiencing, I thought I might punch him in the face if I saw him.

So we drove about 20 minutes south to go to the Joliet hospital.

As soon as I got there, they hooked me up with a wheelchair, which was awesome because standing up was killing me.

When they called me in though, they took me to some weird entrance exam area, where there was a whole bunch of patients sitting by computers getting their blood pressure checked and being asked how much they weighed.

I was in too much pain to fight them on that question, but I overheard some other lady tell the nurse, “Enough.” As in, “How much do you weight?” “Enough.”

And then the nurse was all, “I’m really sorry, but we need to know exactly how much you weight because we’re going to give you an antibiotic treatment, and the dosage is going to be based on your weight.”

And she was all, “Well I’m going not to tell you while he’s in the room.” I can only assume it was her boyfriend or her husband. But I suppose it could have been her son. Or maybe even her dad. Who knows.

And then the other nurse was all, “Why don’t you just write it down on a piece of paper and hand it to us?”

And then she grumbled and something else happened and then my pain continued to try and kill me and then somehow they ended up talking about her weight into kilograms and so I never did find out how much the lady weighed because MATH.

Anyway, after the initial check in, they didn’t even bother to put me in a room, they just had a doctor come over and examine me right there.

And she only sort of pulled the curtain back half way before she asked me to lift up my shirt so she could see my ribs.

I was in too much pain to care who I was flashing though.

I screamed in agony when she touched me. I’m pretty sure it was that and my large blue and purple medical binder full of my health information from the last six months that convinced her to give me a shot of dilaudid — a pain reliever the internet says is 6-8 times stronger than morphine.

Yes, it burned going in, but let me just tell you that shot was the best thing to happen to me since I first ate Taco Bell.

Seriously. I have not been that pain free since ever. Really, I cannot remember ever being that pain free.

I want that life back.

I know I had it at one point.

I have faint memories of living and doing things where I could function without horrible pain dominating everything I did all the time, but it’s been so, so long.

I was told the shot would last about 8 hours, but I got a solid 10 out of it.

When it wore off though, I thought I was going to die again.

It’s crazy how quickly the suicidal thoughts come back.

Seriously. It takes about three minutes of pure agony before I’m ready to quit life.

The pain is just insane, and nobody should ever have to endure such a thing. I took two hydrocodone and cried for the 45 minutes it took for them to kick in.

And then I prayed that Walgreens would fill the hydrocodone prescription I had in my wallet a day early.

And they did. That is how I know there is a God.

I used that and the effects of a 20-day low-dose steroid pack my neurologist had prescribed me over the phone Friday afternoon to make it through moving day.

But actually, I just ended up carrying things like pillows and blankets to the car every once in a while, and then feeling the pain of death cover my body whenever my medications would wear off. And then I would suddenly lay down wherever I happened to be, and wait for another dose of medications to kick in.

I spent a bunch of time on the kitchen floor and on the grass next to the U-Haul truck.

The ER doctor told me I need to have a conversation with my pain specialist about going on stronger medications, except of course, my former pain specialist was a horrible, horrible person, and I don’t have a new one yet.

So I’m just taking hydrocodone so that I can live through each day. And I’m relying on a few more than the 4 a day I’m supposed to take.

You can judge me all you want, but when you feel like your ribs are trying to stab you in your heart, you do what you gotta do.

Because it’s either that, or kill myself.

On the upside, we did end up making it to Byron. Sometime around 10 p.m. Saturday night.

At least it didn’t rain. Moving in the rain always sucks.

Uhaul

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