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.