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.


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This is rough.

I’m ordering soda left and right.

I’m eating taco bell for lunch, and McDonald’s for dinner. Working out like two times a week on GOOD weeks. Not sleeping. Barely blogging. Wearing clothes four times between washes, because I have no time for laundry. (Wearing jeans 10 times).  Trying to keep my head above the flood that is my life.

These two jobs and their corresponding commutes are getting to me.

There I said it. It’s out there.

I’m having a rough time.

Heck, more than rough.

I get so tired that I want to cry, but I don’t have the energy.

God gives me strength every day. And, I’d rather be busy than bored, but ya.

This is rough.

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Fine. This one thing was cool about Halloween

I was NOT feeling the Halloween spirit this year.

Call me a witch. Or a word that rhymes with witch. I don’t care.

A big part of it had to do with work-place festivities.

See, I’m in the midst of moving from a lovely, darling, mostly private office in McHenry, to our paper’s main office in Crystal Lake. The main office is filled with people and germs and noise.

To me, at least at first, this was the equivalent of switching from a lovely moisturizing, 7-blade, heated, vibrating, purple razor to a rusty nail pulled from a hobo’s back pocket for my shaving needs.


It’s no secret that in McHenry, I was spoiled. I had a luxurious, quiet, writing environment where I could easily slip into “the zone.”  The magical place where story ledes flow through my fingertips and words align like stars.

Not so much in Crystal Lake. More like the opposite.

And Friday was  probably the worst day to  jump in.

I had never been in the main office for a holiday. Or even a party. And there was CRAPTONS of Halloween stuff going on.

People were dressed in costumes, and blaring haunted music and eating more calories in a hour that I usually eat in a week – all while I was on DEADLINE! It’s kinda hard to find “the zone” when there’s rows and rows of hanging bats above the department next door and kids keep walking past looking for candy.

And when I went to work Saturday, I was kinda hoping it had all been a bad dream.

It wasn’t. There were still bats.

During my brief free time I started looking for a cartoon I could put on my work monitor to make me feel better.

I finally found one that said “Evil plans are best.” But I was unclear about how this whole, “working near bosses” thing worked and wanted to check with some co-workers to be sure that none of the higher-ups would interpret that to mean I was crazy and had an actual evil plan to like, hack our system (I don’t) or bring down the paper (Again. I don’t).

And someone chimed in that it’s unlikely that in the spectrum of employees I would fall anywhere near the “crazy” side. And that I’d probably have to bring in a life-size cutout of Johnny Depp (whom I love) for people to think that.

Then another co-worker was all “Speaking of which, there IS a life-size cut-out of Johnny Deep near the front desk. Someone brought it in for the pirate-themed Halloween area.”




I went to take a picture. (See below).

My co-worker than said it’d be “crazy” if I brought in a big bag of money. And just like that, the “crazy-makes things so” magic was dead.

But alas, knowing that at least one person in this strange new office loves Johnny Depp enough to buy a life-size cut out makes me thing this whole transition might not be that bad.

And now, without further ado – the photos. Feel free to pretend it’s the REAL Johnny Depp. I do. And tune in next week to read about my evil plan to steel steal him. (editor’s note: Such a plan may or may not exist).


Photo by the supa amazing Val!
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