“Why give up everything for one thing when you can give up one thing for everything”……Unknown
Wow…it has now been 3 weeks (*tomorrow….On Monday, Aug 3, 2015), since I went from 5 Fentanyl “Actiq” Lollipops per day (Plus the long lasting Fentanyl patch that I still continue to wear and to change every 48 hours), to zero Actiq lollipops for Breakthrough pain per day. I went to bed on the 12th of July taking my last “sucker” for pain and I woke up being unable, not allowed to take another. The first day wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I am suspecting that was because I still had residuals left in my system. By the end of the first night, I started feeling pretty ill. The second day was wasn’t so bad and the 3,4th, and 5th days were the worst. I can tell you that it feels like the very worst flu that I’ve ever had. It includes: vomiting, diarrhea, chills, awful sweats and all I wanted to do was lay on my couch, bed or “Lazy Boy” chair. I am sometimes hungry, but when I eat, my stomach hurts. I feel bloated and nothing sounds good to eat and even drinking doesn’t sound good. I used to love my hot tea, my coffee and diet pepsi and none of that even sounds good to me now. Nothing is the same and now it’s been 3 weeks!
We called the Dr. about 5 days into this and told him how awful I’d been feeling. I did a lot of research, went onto forums for withdrawals and such. I found out that there are a few different meds that can help through the hardest days at the beginning especially. The first one is a blood pressure medication called “Catapres” also called “Clonodine”. There is an anti-anxiey /anti-panic attack type of drug called “Klonopin” that can also help with the withdrawal and flu-like symptoms. Then another thing that can help are the medications that are for anxiety, such as: Ativan, Xanax or even Valium. You don’t need to take them for a long time but just long enough to help you through a hard time. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, please research online forums, use “google” to look up information on withdrawals and then check out “You Tube” videos online about withdrawals too! My Dr. gave me the Catapress and I took it for about 2 weeks and it helped very much with the symptoms of chills, sweats etc. That is driving me crazy! The chills and sweats are getting lesser and less often but the knee dropping fatigue just won’t stop!
So now I’m actually finishing the 3rd week of not taking the one thing that actually worked for my pain. The Fentanyl Lollipops helped me and though I never should’ve been given the large amount that Dr. Bullach had given me, I felt so much better when I was down and got myself down to the FDA approved amount. I don’t understand at all why I have to go through the pain of the withdrawals from something that helped my pain the most and did not upset my GI tract. I now remember and cannot believe that I didn’t remember when the pain Dr. asked me “do you have stomach issues? Why are you taking the lollipops in the first place?” I told him that I didn’t have issues with my stomach and due to my MTBI I forget certain things. I remember now that Dr. Bullach had written a “book” for the Insurance company about me and why I needed to take Actiq losenges or lollipops because of the numerous different meds that I tried with horrible GI side effects or allergic reactions. I had forgotten all about that until I started taking Dilauded on a daily basis. It’s ripping up my stomach!
It’s been 3 weeks and I cry often and feel very depressed. I’m not ever very hungry and I’ve not lost any weight! How crazy is that? I feel nauseous and my stomach down in my lower intestines, feels bloated and hurts every time I eat something! Nothing sounds good and nothing much tastes very good. I’m going to the pain Dr. this week and I need to talk to him and tell him everything. But I just really don’t want to try a bunch of other medications that might make my stomach worse or have even worse side effects. The one side effect that I cannot handle is “weight gain”. I already feel much to heavy now and I cannot afford to gain an ounce. I used to have Anorexia since I was about 13 yrs old and I fought in on and off until I was in that car accident . I will only say one thing about the eating disorder, and that happened because of things ….no….”Abuse” that happened in my home growing up. My kidneys and tubules from my kidneys are too small according to the Ultrasound that the Nephrologist did several years ago following my episode of acute renal failure in 1994. I’ve been on SSDI for Chronic Kidney Disease Stage II and Complex PTSD. To make a very long story, very very short, my heart and my kidneys have medical issues due to me being starved and poisoned with syrup of Ipecac during my childhood. I have seen my pediatrician records, shot records etc.; my dad gave them to me after my mom died and I don’t think he knew what they said! They are written all over by the pediatrician. It says “Feed this baby”! “This baby is Anemic! Give her Iron”….then the Dr. wrote some instructions with names of baby foods and formulas with iron etc. So ….lastly, regarding this subject, I do have stomach issues and when I was terribly Anemic in 1999, 2000, 2001; I had 3 blood transfusions!!! They didn’t work and the Hemoglobin was at 8. when I had the last one! So I visited a Hematologist and he gave me an IV infusion of something that helped and my Anemia has been much better since 2002!!!
Since that awful car accident on 8-11-02, and all of the chronic intractable pain, the surgeries and the horrible pain following the surgeries; I just didn’t care anymore about how much I weighed. The numbers didn’t matter any longer! I needed to eat to help myself feel less pain, take medications to help with the ongoing pain following that accident.!!! I slowly started gaining weight as at the time of the MVA, I only weighed about 90 pounds and I am 5’5” tall! Slowly I allowed myself the nourishment to “fix” or help “fix” my pained and broken body. I’ve gotten up to about 145 lbs now and to me, that is too much. For a long time I didn’t weigh myself because as long as I could wear a size 6, I felt OK with myself. I can still wear a “misses” size 6 in relaxed jeans but I feel very big now because I need to use a cane, a wheelchair at times and even a walker. I don’t exercise because I get out of breath and in too much pain and am unable to do much of anything. The CRPS started in 2007 in my right foot following a surgery. It spread to both feet and my knees as well. Now it is full body “systemic” and I cannot even walk more than just a few minutes, like 20 minutes I suppose. Some days a little more and other days a little less. I’m trying not to worry about that, the “numbers” game, but it’s really scaring me because for the past 3 weeks now, I’ve had a very hard time eating anything much at all and I have not lost but 3 pounds. My Lymphedema in my left arm from the CRPS on my whole left side internally, doesn’t help with that because I get a lot of edema! My feet, legs and arms swell. I’m pretty much miserable!
I didn’t mean to go there. I wasn’t planning on talking about the Anorexia. But I am proud of myself for a few reasons. I have cured myself of the Anorexia (although I will always have the food fears and I will always have the distorted body image and thoughts that go with it all. But I will not ever be acting on those fears and thoughts again, for life and death reasons because I love my husband, kids and grandkids much more than I care about those numbers! I always did but I felt too “out of control” and controlled by my fears of food way back when!
Ok…..so back to these past few weeks…..this has been the hardest or one of the top few hardest things that I’ve ever done. I asked the Dr. who took over for Dr. Bullach,(**and got me through by prescribing lower and lower doses of the meds that would’ve and could’ve killed me if he had not done that for me) if he was “proud of me” for stopping the Fentanyl lollipops? I asked him also if he liked the letter that I wrote to him, Dr. Bullach and Dr. Dobritt, the old pain Dr.? He smiled and said that his Office employees were impressed and he left it at that. I could see it in his face and his eyes. His demeanor was very different this past visit, with my being off of that prescription now and him not having to write it for me any longer. He is relieved and I do feel that he is very happy for me and proud of me. That shouldn’t really matter to me but it does make me feel good that I did and am doing and have done something very very difficult that even some of the strongest willed people might not have been able to do!! But I’ve done it and i’m doing it!!
After having said all that I’ve said, now I’d like to really say that I’ve been going through “HELL” this past 3 weeks. I don’t want to live like this with my stomach feeling all ripped up. My headaches and neck aches, which are in the back of my head and neck, most likely from the “Chiari I malformation”, have been a daily occurrence and they aren’t going away! I was off of my Ativan for a year and now I’m back on that several time daily to help with the Dilauded side effects. I could take the Dilauded when it was just an “emergency” medication that I used to keep out of the E.R. or it was used following surgeries. You must remember that I also had my “suckers” at that or during those times as well. My husband has had to set his alarm for 6:00 am each morning to get up and get me a Dilauded and an Ativan , just so that I am able to get out of bed an hour or two later! I used to take a Fentanyl Lollipop which was waiting in my bedside table drawer. I could open it, take it and lay in bed for about 1/2 hour and then I was able to get up. Now I have to plan it like a 2 hour ordeal. If we forget then we or I cannot even get out of bed. I do have GI issues obviously from all that my stomach has been through. Im actually surprised its not worse. I do have to have Colonoscopies every 5 years also, because of my mom’s death from colon cancer in Dec 2002. For some reason, the lollipops don’t upset my stomach or bother me in any way. I have had no side effects! I’ve honestly tried so many other pain meds that all had terrible side effects and worse! I don’t think I’ll be able to go back on the lollipops now! I’m not sure I would if I could, now that I’ve gone through the withdrawals and illness that goes with that.!! I honestly don’t know what to ask for or try? I did have something called Kadian (*extended slow release Morphine) that worked for a few or 2 years and suddenly stopped working for me. I also have something called “LONG QT syndrome”, which affects my heart and there are hundreds of meds that I cannot have due to this condition, that has only one symptom; which is “sudden cardiac death”.
Now I’m going to share with you, some research that I got from some of the websites that are the companies that make these Fentanyl lollipops called “Actiq”. I also want to share that many people have lost and do lose their teeth because of these lollipops with 8 grams of sugar in each one. The way that you get the medication to work is by placing the lollipop between my gum and my cheek. You have to pretty much keep it there twirling it loosly for 15 minutes in order to get the appropriate amount of medication. My Dentist was wonderful and thought ahead for my safety and comfort. He made special trays that molded to my teeth. I then put a flouride paste into these trays, put them into my mouth, covering all of my teeth for about 5 minutes several times per week! I had only one or two cavities since 2005, when I actually started the suckers. They were very old and needed new fillings. I tried hard to take every precaution.
I honestly don’t see why I had to have something taken from me that I was being very responsible with and doing very well with while taking them??? I only always followed my physician’s rules and advice! These past 3 years I had asked him several times if he would “help me go down off of them and take less”. He always told me that “Suzanne, I got you out of that hospital bed in the living room! I got you to be able to get up, go out sometimes and have a bit more of a life!” He was right, so I stopped bothering him. He told me to “trust him” and so I did. Here are a few of the things that I found on the website for the Fentanyl “Actiq” Lolllipops for BT pain: “Actiq achieved off-label status as a powerful pain reliever (80-100 times more potent than morphine) and is used to treat migraine headaches, severe back pain, cluster headaches, bone pain, arthritis, neuropathies, and other situations of severe chronic non-cancer pain.” Also, I read that “It can legally be prescribed for off-label used but cannot be marked as such. As much as 80% of the prescriptions for Actiq each year are written for off-label use for sufferers of NON-CANCER,Chronic pain. Soooo, then ….if I was doing so much better and had a much more happy existence with less pain because no stomach issues and honestly …less pain!!??? Why , then??? Why can I not have my life back? Its not any more dangerous it just cannot be! I don’t understand because Fentanyl is Fentanyl and how is less of that any better for me, than Dillauded ripping up my stomach whilst my head and neck,…..arms, legs and feet feel “on Fire” along with burning nerve pain! I’m so fatigued, that I can only do something for about one hour maybe two and I’m down for the count! The rest of the day is in bed or in my “Lazy Boy” chair or on the couch!…
Well, I’ll give Dr Bullach that one…he got me “out of that hospital bed in the living room and out doing more stuff” while in the meantime giving me much too much medication …..like I have said before, I’m a lay person and I had no idea !! I wish I’d never taken any of it….I ‘ve never smoked, drank nor have I ever done any drug of any kind…At first, after the car accident, when I went to my 1st pain Dr for 3 yrs…they’d get upset with me because I wasn’t taking the amount prescribed but was taking LESS….I cannot win….I never have taken more than prescribed either….well, we will see what happens huh? I’ll keep you posted…I have another pain Dr. appt this week on the 6th….Thank you for following ….and we will be on to a new subject very soon…If you want to read back on any of my old posts…one of the pretty good ones is “Illness Doesn’t Equal Lack of Faith”…..it’s a good one if I do say so myself….check it out if you wish….I’ll be writing soon again…not so long this time…My youngest daughter is moving with her hubby to Boise Idaho this week…give me strength. This is going to be so very hard…I miss her already….UGGH Why does life have to be this hard??? lots of love, Suzanne