Wow…One week has passed….and I have been free of the Fentanyl Lollipops for 7 days now!
I would say that growing up in an abusive home was horrendous. Being robbed at gunpoint at the age of 11 years; in a shoe store with my family, was just terrifying. I also think that getting married, being abused and getting remarried all the while being abused even worse, was pretty challenging. I didn’t know what “challenging” was though, until I had to flee the marital home with my two baby girls; along with help from the domestic violence shelters. My little girls were only 3 and 5 1/2 and I was 30 years old. Later I was diagnosed with PTSD and “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” and found some solace in trusted Psychologist whom I still know to this day. I had felt that battling Anorexia & depression on and off since the age of 17 until I cured myself following a horrible motor vehicle accident in 2002; was brave and courageous. Having gone through Acute renal failure, being robbed again in 2013 and being involved in 2 Motor vehicle accidents, through no fault of my own, I thought I didn’t exactly have such an “easy” life. The second MVA in 2002, I suffered numerous injuries and multiple surgeries; including several pieces of hardware placed in a few different parts of my body. I’m on my second pacemaker, the first being “a piece of cake”. Meaning that the second pacemaker surgery in 2013, did not go quite as planned. After getting into my chest, the Neuro-Cardiologist found out that the 1st pacemaker had worn a hole right through my pectoral muscle. Then not only did I need a new pacemaker, but the 45 minute to an hour surgery turned into a 3 hour ordeal in which my whole left pectoral muscle had to be rebuilt. The team was smart and did research on RSD/CRPS, a Neuro-autoimmune disease that I ended up getting after my 7th surgery. It was the surgery on my right foot in 2007, in which the horribly painful nerve disease started. It spread and it spread until it went systemic following that major open surgery in 2013. I even endured a CVA and a mild heart attack in between the 10 surgeries following that MVA in 2002. I suffer from an MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) and went through 3 years of TBI rehabilitation to learn how to cope with: not being able to cook when nobody is home (because I may leave burners on and hurt my family or myself), not being able to comprehend what I read anymore after having been a College graduate with a 3.9 GPA! I had to learn how to live with leg braces, hearing aids, special prism glasses, balance issues, much less concentration capabilities and just about zero short term memory! The worst of these being the chronic nerve pain and all of the pain following those years and still to this day.
I went to a pain Dr. for 3 years and he did everything from epidural nerve blocks to trigger point injections and biofeedback along with pain Psychology appointments. I was so happy when I read the notes from the pain Psychologist’s because they wrote that I was not an “addictive personality”. I never drank, smoked, did any drugs….prescription or otherwise! I was one of those “good girls” who had always tried to be “teachers pet” and get a 4.0 GPA and still try to get “extra credit”. Of course I’m a “type A” personality person who likes to do things the right way the first time if at all possible. I always did my best at everything I endeavored. I made alot of mistakes but always came back and tried again, while pulling up myself by the “bootstraps”.
The chronic intractable pain that has gone along with all of my injuries and surgeries since 2002 and then the diagnosis of CRPS in 2007; and later the shock of getting the “full body/systemic CRPS” has been traumatic to say the least. I was always very cooperative and followed whatever the Dr’s told me to do. I trusted again and again and again; when most people would’ve given up long ago, I just kept believing in the “goodness” of people or at least trying to find some good in all people. If you’ve been following along at all, you’ll know that I met Dr. Bullach, my GP for 12 years, in 2002 during a hospital stay following that MVA. I was in there for pain control and met the pain Dr at the same time. I trusted him right away and thought he was a kind and “teddy bear-ish” type of personality. He told me that I “could trust him” and that “he would be the eye in the middle of my storm”. He said he would help me and cooridinate specialists and take care of all of my medications etc. He told me “not to worry”. We tried every medication under the sun, it seemed. Everything either made me deathly ill, very sick or I was allergic to it! By the time we were finished and had found one thing that finally worked for my kind of pain, there was something of a “book” of all the meds that I had tried and which had failed for me.
Finally, I tried the Fentanyl patches and they made me nauseous and really “loopy”. I went ahead and tried them again because I just felt that a patch was so easy and you didn’t have to think about it all the time, many times per day etc. It finally helped to relieve my pain. I had a hospital bed in my home because I couldn’t even get in and out of bed or get any sleep due to the amount of pain I was living with at the time. I had been offered a “pain pump” that they fill with morphine, by the pain Dr. ….but the auto insurance was fighting me so much and I just didn’t have a whole lot of “fight” left at that time. I also already had 2 screws in my right shoulder, a jaw implant and had a pacemaker! I didn’t want anymore “things” put into my body. Especially not something with a catheter that would’ve been stuck into my spine that had multiple herniates and bulging disks, degenerative disk disease and Scoliosis. Luckily I didn’t get the pain pump because later we found out that I suffer from Hypogammaglobulinemia, a blood disease that means I have an immune deficiency in my IGG, IGA subsets of white blood cells. I could have become paralyzed and could have gotten numerous infections had I allowed that pump to be placed. I made the right decision for me and today I’m so glad that I did.
So I had been in a “pain pump” support group, just to find out information for myself about the pumps and to make friends with the same kind of pain issues that I suffer from. Everyone was so kind and many were knowledgeable. Some of the people mentioned these “pain lollipops”. They said that they helped a lot and very quickly for the terrible nerve pain. I checked in with my GP, Dr. Bullach about them and he started me on them right away. That was in 2005, after I’d finished treatment with the pain Dr.and he’d put me back in the hands of my GP. He told me that because I didn’t want a pain pump and I was going to go the medication route for my pain, that it’d be better for me to be in the care of my GP. He agreed that Dr. Bullach would prescribe the pain meds. He told me that my Dr. could consult with him at any time and he would help. He also agreed that it was better for him this way because he was “looked at under a microscope” and didn’t like prescribing pain meds.
These experiences were all difficult, painful, scarey and life altering; but nothing prepared me for what I’ve gone through this past week with the withdrawals from the Fentanyl lollipops. I’d been prescribed them and had been taking these for the past 10 or 11 years! Time just kept passing and the regimen was working; although I asked many many times over especially the past 3 years to get taken “way down” from the amount I’d been taking of the pain suckers. Dr. Bullach just kept on telling me to “trust him” and that he “was the eye in the middle of my storm”. He told me that he’d “gotten me out of that hospital bed in my home”! He reminded me that I was able to at least get out and do a little bit more than I had been before the lollipops. So I trusted him; though I still continued to ask him to slowly take me down because I felt that I was falling so often (6 times in 2014 and 6 concussions!!!) and though I have balance issues, I thought in the back of my head that maybe it was partially the fault of the meds? I never even took an Aspirin for headaches in the past, prior to this car accident and the injuries from it. Now I was wearing 2 patches of Fentanyl and taking sometimes approximately up to 20 or + lollipops daily to control my CRPS and the other pain issues. I had even woken a “sleeping monster” in that MVA in 2002! I had been born with “Arnold Chiari I malformation”. It showed up on the MRI after the MVA. It is a congenital defect in which the tonsils at the base of my brain stem get swollen and do not fit correctly into the spinal cord column, causing great pain for some people and others never know they have it! It all depends on many issues and variations. The horrible whiplash being my 2nd one and then the MTBI, “woke up” the sleeping congenital defect. Hence, another horrible pain issue to where I cannot even hold my head up for long periods of time without causing great pain.
So as you’ve probably been reading my past few posts, you know that my GP just abruptly left in December 2014. Without any feeling, caring or the tenderness I’d seen before in his eyes; he just told me he was leaving and that that appointment would be my last one with him. He promised he’d talk to the pain Dr. that knew me. He assured me that my treatment would be and stay the same as it had been because it was working! He promised also to send my records to the pain Dr and to personally talk to him on my behalf. I had received a letter from my health insurance company, stating that they “would no longer pay for the Fentanyl lollipops for pain after March 11, 2015, unless a pain Dr. agreed with Dr. Bullach’s treatment plan.” He told me not to worry about a thing and again to “trust him”. Well, as you know, none of that ever happened and the Dr. who took over for Dr. Bullach’s patients got left with a “mess”. He could not handle the volume of patients on top of his own, especially the amount of “pain patients” that Dr. B. had accumulated!! Luckily for me, I’d been a patient in that office since 1986, and had a history with that other Dr. as well. He reluctantly helped me get the pain lollipops and patches, but was swift to inform me that he was not going to be prescribing the amount that I’d been taking under the other Dr.
I was afraid, but I was motivated. I have been through so much, but it has made me a strong woman and a survivor. I took myself down from 20+ suckers daily down to only 8 in just a couple of months time. I cut my amount of the patches in half as well. I went through some hyperalgesia and some misery, but I did it! I was taking less and less as I was looking for a pain Dr. to help because the other physician in that practice didn’t feel comfortable prescribing the kind of pain meds that I needed to survive now, with all of the pain that I live with on a daily basis.
Finally, I found a nice pain Dr. and luckily I carry my records with me when I go to a new specialist. I had everything in order and I felt “safe” with him right away. He told me to finish up the pack of pain lollipops that I was taking and then go to sleep on July 12th taking one last sucker. Then I was to wake up on the 13th of July, and never take another Fentanyl lollipop again; after 10 or 11 years of taking them, it was over! I was starting a new pain management regimen and I was fearful, but knew I could do it! The first day was not so bad until the night time. I did crave the mental picture of having something that my brain associated with immediate pain relief! I felt nauseous, achy all over and I was so hot, I thought I was going to spontaneously combust!! Then I’d get chills, diarrhea and started to vomit. I felt jittery and anxious and didn’t want to do anything but cry and sleep and lay on the couch! I made a video of how I was feeling at 5:00am on the 2nd day. The second day was more of the same and the third day was the worst! I did manage to go with my husband, daughter,& my 2 granddaughters to an hour or so of the kids “music in the park Wednesdays” Summer program.on the third day. I returned home sicker than ever afterwards! Finally, I started researching on forums and “You Tube” etc. I learned that if I took a medication called “Clonadine” aka “Catapress”, it can sometimes help with the withdrawals. I called the GP and within an hour an half, I had the Catapress in my body. It was the first thing that actually took a little bit of the edge off from the withdrawal symptoms.
The pain Dr. didn’t seem to think I’d have too much or too many symptoms because he said we were “faking out my body” by switching to a different BT pain medication….something more safe and not made for “end of life” and “terminal” patients.with Cancer. He told me that the pain lollipops were/are dangerous, “very dangerous”. He said that I should never have had them. So I’m not sure why my body still went through horrible withdrawals, maybe because of my many bad pain issues? But I felt like I just was going to die and really didn’t care if I had, at that point! I’m so lucky that my husband is a teacher and he was home for me. Also, my oldest daughter lives nearby and she was a great help and has been. She even was calling several times daily and was stopping over to bring me some “Gator aide” to help my electrolytes along with my favorite food, “french fries”, to get me to eat something substantial!
Well, today it is one week and I am Fentanyl lollipop free. I’m very proud of myself for doing this without having to go anyplace and get help elsewhere. I was afraid because I had a previous heart attack and stroke and I’d had seizures following the MVA for about 6 months. All of those things can happen when going through withdrawals. I’m so very lucky that these things didn’t happen again. I don’t feel good yet. I feel very tired, heavy and I still have stomach aches and diarrhea, along with nausea and depression on and off. I think I’m over the “hump” or the worst of it. I think I will get just a little bit better each day. It’s going to be very very hard because for over 10 years I had a “quick” relief when I was on an outing or needed quick breakthrough pain relief.I have to retrain my brain and myself to just plan ahead and take what the pain Dr has prescribed for me now, about 45 minutes before I may need it. That’s not going to be easy and the new meds are feeling like they’re ripping out my tummy. People tell me that is the withdrawals and not the meds. I’m willing to see this through and keep on keeping on!
Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you and I will certainly be keeping you posted. Thank you again…..Also, if you would like to watch my very dark (because it was middle of the night with no lights on and I was crying very much) “You Tube” videos, please email me for the link and I will give it to you. I have them not ‘private” but “unlisted” …so if you have the link from me, you will be able to watch them. There are three videos altogether right now for this experience thus far. Again, my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org…..g’nite luvs….