This whole journey began rather by accident. As most things go I had been dealt a rather harsh reality in my life. Not that I think anyone else’s life is any different, mind you. I was very much caught up in the “Me” of it all. In 1988 when I was 6 months pregnant, I was in a car accident that left me with limited abilities to walk. I was run off the road and rolled end over end several times before being thrown from the S-10 truck I was driving.
It was the day of the Pecan Street Festival in Austin, a local gathering that brings crowds and promises good times. My husband and two children were at the festival. The accident left me with many broken bones and a head injury, not to mention a lifetime of after effects that promised to be a story someday. They actually lost me three times that day and I fought back as did my unborn daughter. That however is another story.
Spring forward 25 years, and I was finally having the second of two knee replacement surgeries. Upon entering the hospital I became aware very quickly that I had been doing myself more harm than good by taking my pain medications in larger doses than I had been advised to do. 25 years of pain medications does tend to build up a rather high tolerance. I started with Vicodin and ended with Norcos. The morning after surgery I knew I was in deep trouble. Morphine was not taking the edge off the pain and it was very apparent that my overuse of prescription medications had numbed me to any good I would find in a hospital. I got home on day three and tried several cocktails trying to find pain relief. I took anything I could to help the pain and on day 21, I decided it was time to just stop taking everything. I had no idea that I was about to start a very long painful process but almost immediately the pain was more tolerable. I kept thinking there is no way that my leg hurts less because I just had a knee replacement. Like as in where they cut your knee out and put a new one in. The bone was sore but I was able to walk so much better than I had been before the surgery. Then came the DT’s. I thought I was freezing to death and even when having an electric blanket and heating pads on me covered with 11 different layers of blankets I was still shivering so hard that I looked like someone having a seizure. This came and went and other times I was able to sleep through some of the side effects of not giving my body what it so badly craved. I will be honest, I thought about just buying something off the street, something stronger to make it all stop. I had nightmares and day mares….I would wake up in a cold sweat and thirty minutes later wake again having a hot flash.
Once I realized that it was not really as much need as it was “want” I started to get a grip on life and how much time I had lost. I look back now and feel so foolish. I lost so many years trying to cover pain with medications. I have a daughter who is a nurse. I know what to look for and I have been through recovery with my Dad. I went to al anon and ala teen. I did normal things…how could I be an addict? How could I have been taking opiates for twenty plus years and not realize I was addicted? I was living a lie, that’s how I did it, I was in pain, or I didn’t feel good, I was depressed, life was rough. Why didn’t someone look at me and say get a grip, this is life? Oh they did. My husband is a total in your face real person and he doesn’t have a problem being honest about anything but even he could not dispute that I was in pain. None of that will give me all those years back though. I lived in a drug induced fog and pretended like it was normal to have to take 6-8 pills a day just to get through the day. I had high blood pressure, insomnia, I was overweight, depressed, sad and downright lonely and I thought Norcos were my best friend. When things looked the bleakest I went to my friend and slept through it. When there was reason to celebrate once again I shared it with my friend. I had pretty much isolated myself from my entire family. Pushing them further and further away so I could be alone in opiate land. I don’t tell you all this to garner your sympathy or to attain pity. I own my mistakes and I know I and I alone made them.
I implore you to look at your own life and realize if your in a bad place it is OK to need help. It’s OK to make horrible mistakes and learn from them. I promise on the other side is life…..not always happiness and rainbows but the sun shines a little differently when you are not clouded and living in a fog. I made it through detox alone. Statistics show that it is not common to be able to do so. Do you realize that according to the Mayo clinic, over 70% of all Americans are on medication. That is an alarming number to me. I can’t be the lone soldier standing in this field wanting my life back…there have to be others and I would think there are a LOT of us. I got my head clear and I see everything so differently now. The way I approach every single thing in my life is different when thinking with a clear head. I actually remember things now. I find myself telling someone to remind me and I remember it with no problem. The health issues I had have all but disappeared along with the medications I was taking. I am sleeping naturally for the first time in my life and enjoying being able to do so. I don’t have constant stomach aches and migraines that plague me non stop. I went to drug.com and looked at Norco side effects and was astounded to realize half of them were things I was being treated for. It is NEVER EVER too late to stop the insanity. I am 50 this year and life is just starting over for me. If I can do this, I have no doubt that others can to. I refuse to end up a statistic, I have been one for long enough thanks.