What a Ride: The Wave of Withdrawals

First I must state that I am so very lucky to have found a doctor that’s not only compassionate, he knows his medicine. He knows about fibromyalgia, and is PROACTIVE and has seriously started to TREAT ME. Unlike the typical 6-8 minutes with the doctor, “so how’s the pain?” Well, it still sucks. I hurt all the time. “Well, here’s your prescription for Tramadol, see you in six months,” my doctor spends TIME with me. I get to email him and I get replies within a few hours. From him. Not a nurse. From my doctor.

But I know all too well that my situation is NOT THE NORM. I know personally what it’s like to be treated like a pill-seeking drug addict, guilty until proven innocent (i.e., those unconstitutional drug tests – that I must PAY FOR), I know what it’s like to be shamed and cut off from my meds – just like that. A snap of a finger. Although my pharmacists have NEVER treated me like a druggie, I know from reading other’s experiences where some refuse to fill the valid script! Or shame them in front of other customers! We in chronic pain are not the problem, but we’re treated as if we’re the solution, by making folks pee in a cup, or show up – get this – within the hour of being called – with their prescription bottle to count the pills.

The war on pills is never going to succeed, just like the war on drugs. Is it any more difficult to get weed? Pills? Heroin? Meth? Cocaine? Ummmmmmmmm, NO. I use cannabis to relieve my pain, stimulate my appetite, and help me sleep, and have done so for over a decade. It’s no more difficult to obtain today than 10 years ago. As a matter of fact, the plant has been developed stronger, and better. What I’m trying to say is, the junkies out there? Will continue to steal pills to sell them on the street. They will obtain the pills just as easily as they did before.

But those of us with chronic pain? We pay their price.  …

Wow. That was supposed to be a short and sweet introduction to what I really wanted to talk about. Ha! My new doctor, the one who knows his shit, figured out immediately – on my first visit – that my combination of meds were not effective in treating my fibromyalgia. He drew a picture showing how all of the different meds work together. I was on the wrong combination – and had been – for the last decade. So let’s start switching meds, but only one at a time. So the first to go was the wicked Tramadol.

Those that have told us that Tramadol is not addictive certainly have never taken the drug. Not addictive? I’ll tell you what happens when you wean off of Tramadol: a non joy ride through mood swings, panic attacks, frustrating insomnia, night sweats, terrible irritable bitchiness, sadness, depression, and utter lethargy. As in can’t keep my eyes open, until it’s 3:00 a.m. and then I’m up. Up up up up up up with pain pain pain pain pain pain pain pain pain

Finally, it ended. After several months, the wave of withdrawals from the wicked, evil Tramadol subsided. About fricking time. Now I could switch to a different medication, and after several dosage adjustments, it’s working. I feel much – oh so much – better. So the switch to one med got me off of two.

As I told my doctor, after losing my mind – like not knowing words – and gaining 15 pounds in three months without changing eating habits, AND while exercising at least an hour per day, it’s time to get off the even more wicked, evil, oh-so-deceptive Lyrica. From what I’ve read, I’m in for a heck of a ride. This stuff? I have to wean off of very carefully – and not as quickly as I did the Tramadol. Doc agreed. I will follow the weaning schedule, just so I can switch to another med.

Now I forgot my train of thought. This happens quite frequently – yet another reason to rid my body of wicked, evil Lyrica. This drug actually did lessen the pain signals in my body, and it’s a shame the side effects are so awful. Just yet another medicine I’ve tried.

Frickin’ frackin’ here we go again. Fasten your seat belts and hold onto the bars.

The Fears of a Chronic Pain Sufferer

What if I cannot get another prescription for my hydrocodone measly 5 mg. for my pain? What if my doctor won’t change my prescription for a larger dose that might actually kick my pain? What if I can’t get any pills between now and when  finally see a pain management doctor in December? What if I have to take that mandatory drug test and get a dirty result for THC, even though I plan to quit 45 days in advance? What if I can’t ever get pain pills after that?

What if the pharmacy flags me as a drug seeker because of all the prescriptions I have (including the narcotics)? What if my previous doctor (that I fired!) sends my records before I ever meet the pain doctor and screws me over?

What if I have to suffer this pain without any marijuana OR pain pills?

Why should I have to worry about the ability to get a prescription for a well-documented case of pain that I have suffered over 20 years? Why should I be presumed guilty and have to submit to, in my opinion, unconstitutional drug tests, just to receive a prescription to help me live? Do I have to do that for my blood pressure medicine? Do diabetes patients have to pee in a cup to get their insulin? Why are we treated like drug addicts? Why do physicians, nurses, and even pharmacists treat some people like drug seekers when all they do is suffer from constant pain? What if that becomes me?

Why should I have any of these questions?

WHY?

Sick of Being Sick of Being Sick …

It’s a never-ending cycle, I might get a few days where I feel okay (because feeling GOOD is a rare day indeed), but most days I wake up and by the time I get to the coffee machine, I say to myself, “I feel like shit. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m sick of being sick.” Almost every single day I utter these phrases. I used to wake up and say, “I feel like shit.” My hubby pointed out, “but you say that every day.” Does he become immune to my constant utterance of “I’m sick of being sick of being tired …” each and every day? Do I become complacent with feeling this way?

In a sense, I think some of that is true for both of us. While my dear hubby is a super compassionate person, and he certainly tries to be compassionate about my never-ending pain cycle, he certainly doesn’t KNOW my pain. I don’t want him to know it. I have almost accepted that this is my way of life. I’m going to wake up most days and feel like shit. That’s just my life.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve joined pain/fibromyalgia forums on Facebook, and I get depressed reading about other people’s depression, and how they feel like shit, and about how badly they’re treated at pain doctors, or rhematologists, or whatever doctor, when you’re not treated with compassion by your own doctor, face it, you are SCREWED. And sadly, most chronic pain patients are at the bad end of the shaft. From the doctor (“it’s all in your head,” “if you weren’t fat you wouldn’t be in pain,”) to the pharmacist, the stories I have read horrify me. That’s what I face. I’ve already had my own terrible experience with my rhematologist, and instead of putting up with her cruel treatment, I fired her. It felt good to send a letter that I was no longer a patient! Now I have to wait until December to see a pain management doctor. In the meantime, it’s up to my primary physician. Will she give me another two prescriptions in the meantime for my pain pills? And oh my, since Hydrocodone is rescheduled, can we change it to something that might just kick my pain? I mean 5 mg. of hydrocodone just doesn’t kill the pain. It does make life more bearable, but not better.

Trust me, if I could choose between feeling good or taking pills? I’d go for the feeling good! Please don’t treat me like a drug addict. Just treat me with compassion.

Because I’m sick of being sick of being tired all the time.

sigh

It Stinks Around Here

While no leisurely time to post lately, I’ve read way too many horror stories about the way people have been treated trying to obtain pain prescriptions for their LEGITIMATE pain. I know in my case, the fibromyalgia is an invisible disease, as you certainly cannot look at me and know that right now, I’m almost in tears, I hurt so much. But my doctor can tell, MRIs and Xrays don’t lie. A neck fusion surgery doesn’t lie. Getting Toradol shots, going to physical therapy, weekly massages, they all don’t lie. Pain doesn’t lie. WE DON’T LIE. I’d like to suggest, if a doctor cannot establish enough of a rapport with his/her patient to be able to discern whether or not their pain is REAL and very much PAINFUL, then that doc isn’t worth a darn. I’d also like to suggest that if a doctor is more fearful of the DEA and says, “I’m not writing you a prescription because I don’t want to lose my license,” and won’t treat YOU – the PATIENT – it’s time for the doctor to put away the pen and the prescription pad. Yep, close your doors. Find a different way of life. Just like some like to say, “snap out of it!” I’d like to counter, if you really think that I could just snap away my pain, why in the heck didn’t I just do that years ago?!? Do you think I’d like to remain in pain? Oh heck no. No, no, no.

Do you think my pain will ever end? Nope, no matter what the pain pills are, the pain is NEVER LEAVING. My fibromyalgia will never improve, it will never leave, it will ALWAYS BE WITH ME. Yep, my constant unwanted partner, my ever growing pain, right along side me for the REST OF MY LIFE. I try not to dwell on that, just reading it is depressing. deep heavy sigh

So, with that said, I’d like to suggest to all: don’t EVER judge a person by their outward appearance. Just because you can’t see fibromyalgia written all over me, I have a real disease, with real pain, that really sucks. Treat me with compassion, and please, please don’t suggest that “a little exercise will make you feel better,” “have you tried Tylenol PM?” (oh my, my eyes just dropped out the back of my head), or “you’re going to become addicted to those!” If I had eyes in my sockets, they’d fall out again. I’m not asking you to feel my pain, just to treat me like you’d treat anybody else.

Because I? Am way stronger than my pain. But I? have a very low tolerance for bullshit, which unfortunately, those of us in chronic pain? We get way more than our load of crap.

… I don’t know any way to end this than to say, “Gosh, it stinks around here!”

Spread the Truth, Not Scare Tactics

Yesterday I suffered from a fibromyalgia flare, where suddenly I had lost all energy, felt like I was going to pass out, and my entire being screamed in agony. The only thing that helped was sleep. Because I’m down to a measly few pills, I have to mete them out carefully. I knew if yesterday was bad, there would be another day it would be worse. Remember, I’ve been suffering from this for well over 20 years. I know what to expect, unfortunately.

So I did without any pain relief. (And cried several times, although crying doesn’t make the situation any better, it just makes it worse.) So today I’m using that sadness and frustration and turning it into the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” Alas, I’m still testing positive for THC although it’s been several weeks I even used marijuana. This wouldn’t be an issue if medical marijuana was legal in Florida.

How can a plant be illegal? And furthermore, how can the drug test for marijuana be legal if it’s not accurate? Because it certainly isn’t. Even if you test positive today, it doesn’t mean you’ve used marijuana recently! Or even within the last several weeks!

It’s just not right, and making a chronic pain user pee in a cup in order to obtain medically-needed prescriptions is just downright wrong. Stop treating us like drug addicts and treat us like patients. That means TREAT us, don’t just dope us up on whatever the latest pharmaceutical company is pushing on you, to push on us.

Currently, my real frustration is with the politicians and wanna-be second-term governors or even president, that spout out untruths about marijuana and what would happen if marijuana was legalized for medical use. A recent Reuters poll shows that 88% of Floridians support legalization of medical marijuana while only 10% oppose it. Like Eric Shapiro asked, “Should the 10% dictate policy?” It seems like only the politicians have these extremely outdated views (for example, Jeb Bush recently used scare tactics in Florida, urging against medical marijuana because it would ruin tourism and businesses in Florida). Hmmmm. How’s that recreational pot working out in Colorado?

Six months after the legalization of marijuana, Colorado’s tax revenue skyrocketed as crime fell. In the first four months, marijuana sales were more than $202 million, about a third of them recreational. Taxes from recreational sales were almost $11 million.

That is $213 million dollars in the first four months! From a plant! That is natural! And costs nothing to grow! Tourism has gone up, crime has gone down, new businesses are open, and the sky has not fallen. Nor will it. And now Colorado has $213 million dollars it didn’t have before. Imagine the good that can do. And how about tourism?

Colorado store owners Chuck Reynolds and Lee Olesen said they had recorded visitors from all 50 states since opening in April. There regular customers? Senior citizens and veterans who didn’t sign up for medical marijuana cards for fear of losing their federal health benefits. … “I think it should be legal everywhere,” said Mike, a former National Transportation Safety Board employee.

There’s real incentives – proven incentives – to legalize and tax marijuana. Since the debate in Florida is for medical marijuana, I’ll continue to spread the truth about the benefits of a natural plant called, “cannabis,” a.k.a. “marijuana.” Let’s check out the following graphic. Therapeutic uses listed are for gliomas, alzheimers, fibromyalgia, dystonia, hepatitis C, diabetes, osteoporosis, MRSA, multiple sclerosis, ALS, chronic pain, tourette’s syndrome, HIV, hypertension, sleep apnea, GI disorders, incontinence, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our ancestors figured this out thousands of years ago. So why again is this plant illegal?

Herbal Benefits of Medical Marijuana

This isn’t a comprehensive list of what all marijuana can treat, but I can personally attest that it DOES help with fibromyalgia, it DOES help with chronic pain, it DOES help with hypertension, and one that isn’t listed, it’s a natural sleep aid. Since I stopped using marijuana, I have suffered more pain, a fibromyalgia flare (that I hadn’t had in three months because of the combination of pain medication and marijuana), and I have terrible insomnia. I can no longer fall asleep soon after I go to bed. Sometimes it’s after 3:00 a.m. before I fall asleep. Do you know what that does to a person with fibromyalgia? It turns me into a walking zombie.

I’m not a drug addict. But I’m treated like one, and that’s just not fair. But that’s another post, and that one will be about hypocrisy at its worst.

Meanwhile, I want to thank everyone who has joined this blog, all of you that have commented, given me hope, and provided me facts about the medications I’m currently taking. And the comment from namenews, “Keep Rocking, Activist!” made my day. It’s people like you who keep me going.

It’s people like us that make change. So help me be the change. Help me be the squeaky wheel!

The Injustice! Is This Legal?

med mar

If a cop pulled me over, he/she must have reasonable suspicion to search my vehicle; I would have had to act in some way to justify the search. Same as with my house. The police just cannot show up and search my house without proving to a judge that they have reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing on my part. But how is it right that I must submit to a drug test for my doctor in order to receive any pain pill worth a darn (yep, meaning a scheduled narcotic drug) when there is absolutely no reasonable suspicion that I have been doing anything wrong?

I have been a patient for over six months and I was going to pick up only my third prescription for Hydrocodone, you know, that whopping five milligrams of pain relief. (insert huge sarcasm here) That meant I made sixty pills last for six months. As a matter of fact, in each of the doctor’s notes, it says that I show “no signs of drug abuse.”

So you tell me – I’ve done nothing wrong, exhibited no bad behavior, but in order to pick up that prescription, I must now pee in a cup to prove I haven’t been using other drugs. Like I said in my first post (THE MANIFESTO), that’s a problem for me because I have been using marijuana for many, many years to help my pain. Remember, I suffer from fibromyalgia, and for the last 20 years, I’ve never been prescribed narcotics. I had to do whatever I could so I can function as a normal human being and not end up in the bed suffering from pain each and every day of my life. So yes, I used marijuana. Big deal.

I quit using marijuana weeks ago just so I could pass this stupid, unjustified, unreasonable test. I am angry because although I have a few pills left, they’re the only ones I can take to relieve my pain. They will run out within a week. I go without some days because I know there will come a day – soon – that I hurt so, so, so bad, that I have to mete out these pills.

So although I haven’t USED marijuana is weeks, I’ve taken ten at-home tests so far and each one has resulted in a positive result. I haven’t even LOOKED at marijuana, much less used it. I feel really sorry for anybody having to submit to these tests. They don’t actually prove that you’ve been using marijuana recently, only that THC remains in your fat cells for a long period of time. Considering I’ve used marijuana for how long? I may never test negative! So how is this test correct? How is it legal? I haven’t been using marijuana, and I haven’t been abusing my pain meds, but I am GUILTY until proven innocent. That goes against the grain of what America is supposed to be. It just doesn’t make sense. And it makes me angry as hell.

Why marijuana is illegal is because of a series of misinformation spread by those that wanted to benefit from the sale of alcohol – way back around the Depression. Suddenly, marijuana became a bad, bad thing, even though it had been used for thousands of years to treat medical maladies. Suddenly marijuana users became seedy criminals.

That’s the farthest thing from the truth. I am about as far from being a criminal as you can get.

So anybody, tell me, how is this random drug test legal? How is this justified?

Oh yeah, those pharmaceutical companies (who lobby Congress and donate tons of money … think about that …) don’t want to lose any money. Keep on pumping us up with non-narcotic remedies and make a fortune, instead of us being able to grow a naturally-growing plant and use it for free.

I’m mad as hell. And you should be too. Maybe the United States isn’t such a free country after all. Next thing you know, maybe we’ll have random searches in our houses to get rid of that “evil weed.” Be careful, America, what you wish for. It might just come true.

Signed, from a non-marijuana user testing positive,
Your Activist to Make Marijuana Legal Once Again

P.S. Thank you @thcterry for the wonderful graphic that explains all the wonderful uses of marijuana!

The Cannabis Timeline – A Walk Through History

I found the best website today that contains a timeline on the history of marijuana and its use for medical treatment. Guess when the earliest use of medical marijuana was recorded. I’ll give you a hint – it was a very, very long time ago. Think it was in the last 100 – 200 years? Ha!

Let’s go back all the way to 2900 BC. That’s not a typo. That’s right, 2900 BC. That’s 4,914 years ago. Wow. (I even used my calculator. ;-0)

I found this very interesting, and wanted to share this with whoever stumbles across this blog or posts. I also want to thank the folks at ProCon.org for researching and publishing the history of cannabis that I’ll share with you.

In 2900 BC, the Chinese Emporer Fu Hsi referenced marijuana as a popular medicine. “Ma” is the Chinese word for Cannabis. He said marijuana was a popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang.

If marijuana was used over 4,914 years ago, why aren’t we using this natural plant to help heal people? It just doesn’t seem right.

Now we’ll jump 200 years to the Chinese Emporer Shen Nung, who was considered the “Father of Chinese medicine.” He discovered marijuana’s healing properties, as well as two other herbal medicines, Ginseng and Ephedra.

It wasn’t until 1500 BC that a written reference to medical marijuana appeared in the Chinese “Pharmacopeia.”

But it’s the following information that really caught my attention: The Book of Exodus referenced holy anointing oil made from cannabis! Yes, that’s right. The holy anointing oil, described in the original Hebrew version in Exodus (30:22-23), apparently contained over six pounds of “kaneh-bosem,” (cannabis), and was extracted into six quarts of olive oil, also containing other fragrant herbs. The anointed were literally drenched in this potent, fragrant mixture.

It’s an herb! It’s a plant. It’s a weed. It’s cannabis.cannabis

I’m not going to share the entire timeline in one post, but you can bet I’ll share other tidbits about the history of marijuana in other posts.

It wasn’t until prohibition time that some folks put a negative spin on marijuana, right here in the United States. Over 4,000 years of use and suddenly this herb, this weed, this plant, this naturally-growing substance, is bad? I think not!

It’s high time we get the facts out, the truth – that marijuana CAN and SHOULD be used to help treat those suffering. Just like me.

Please help spread the word.

And yes, pun intended. 😀