A Day of Arguing with Myself

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It’s only midday, and already I’m sick of arguing with myself. I just had to look up the rules for capitalization in titles because I couldn’t remember if I should capitalize “with” or not, and it was looking like something else I could spin my head around indefinitely. Thank goodness for Google.

My major arguments this morning have been on two subjects. First, I woke up feeling not-great and not-miserable.

[Side Note: If you don't have chronic pain, and you woke up feeling like I woke up feeling this morning, you would probably call in to work and/or get a loved one to take you to the hospital, but my definitions of not-miserable have undergone a radical shift in the past few years. You'd be amazed at what a person can be happy to live with after enough practice. I don't say this to make you feel sorry for me, or bad for complaining about your own stuff. I actually feel--I guess you could say that I feel reluctantly honored that the universe has bestowed this lesson of what I am capable of getting out of life upon me. I've been able to pare away some of the fluff of existence and get down to some of the more important things, and learn to not get as worked up about some of the less important things. I can't say that I'm any happier than I used to be, although perhaps that will come. I can say I'm not as unhappy and I feel like my life has more reality to it, even if I do struggle with my sense of purpose at times. Get back to me in a few more years and perhaps I'll be able to make more sense out of this than I can at the moment. =-)]

So my day began with what has become The Consuming Question lately–how much pain medicine should I take? As you may remember, I recently tapered off of morphine, started taking vicodin as a maintenance painreliever instead of a breakthrough painreliever in order to cope with the pain of coming off the morphine, and then began to taper off of the vicodin. This is not a function of addiction, by the way, just a function of the way one’s body adapts to having high levels of opioid medications in one’s system, and while I am blessed to not feel the need that an addict feels without his or her substance, the pain of being deficient in opioids when one’s body has added too many opioid receptors (also known as withdrawal) is bad enough. Honestly, I have no idea how an addict ever manages to quit.

Anyway, I had agonizingly inched my pain reliever levels down to four half-pills (of an extra-strength dosage) by the end

English: Vicodin tablets Italiano: Pillole di ...

of the MLK 3-day weekend. Since I had gotten stuck at five whole pills for about five weeks, this is encouraging, but I really want to have a chance for my body to get accustomed to ZERO added opioids–that way, when I do have a pain flare or a bad day, taking a vicodin will help a lot instead of barely at all. So this morning when I felt not-miserable, I thought, “Hey, maybe I can just stop taking all my pills and be done with this in about 3 days!”

Of course, I’ve tried that before, and it’s never worked–inevitably, if I drop my dosage too much, I end up getting a CRPS full-body flare from the withdrawal pain, and having to bounce back to an increased dosage just to manage the flare, generally always settling back to exactly where I was before. But it’s just so tempting to try and get it all done with so I don’t have to keep inching down the dose, dealing with the withdrawal pain for 3-5 days, not being up to do much of anything for quite some time after that, and then doing it again. I’ve been at this for about 4 months now. It sucks. I am ready to get to the part where I get to have some good days, and can effectively treat the bad days. I’m past ready.

So the morning was spent getting more and more painful, until midday when I was about to be down two halves instead of just the first one and I decided if I skipped the second as well, I’d never make it to my early evening appointment. So–I may be able to get down to three halves without too much trouble, or I may have to bounce back to four, but no cold turkeys–or even moderately chilled turkeys–for this cat today, and possibly a wasted morning. Ah, well.

The other subject on my mind for debate this morning was this Coursera class I’m signed up for. It’s on fantasy and science fiction and looks really interesting, but it requires a novel worth of reading and an essay every week. I went for it in the first place because even if I quit or decide not to do the homework or whatever, there won’t be any negative consequences–the courses are free, and if you don’t pass you just don’t get the Certificate of Completion (which doesn’t count for a whole lot anyway–it isn’t college credit or anything). But not having much to lose, while it did make it easy for me sign up for the course, also makes it easier to quit, and I think about quitting daily. I’d like to prove to myself that I can still accomplish something like this, despite my disability. But I also know that this might not be the right time to do it, or the right level at which to start (there are lighter-workload classes on the site). At the moment, I haven’t quit yet. But I feel like it’s going to be up in the air for the 11 weeks of the course, and all the deliberating whether I should give up or not is already a bit exhausting.

I’ve had similar thoughts about this blog, to be honest. I’m kind of an expert at starting projects and then wandering off to something else without finishing them. But the other bloggers on my reading list and the bloggers and non-bloggers who read Attempting Perfection are really important to me. My blog makes me feel like I’m making a contribution to the world, and while I may not be able to be as consistent about posting as I would prefer, this is something that is flexible enough that I can do it, disabled or not. And I still have things to get out there about pain, life with pain, and what we can do about it.

So the blog, I’m sticking with for this year. My little pipeline into the bigger world. And the rest I’ll just have to take one day at a time–just like the rest of my life. Keep on keeping on, my friends! See you soon.

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13 responses »

  1. Hang in there, you are doing so well riding this roller coaster of pain. Don’t forget to look back at how far you’ve come re tapering of meds and try to be patient with yourself. I know it’s hard, especially as you get closer and closer to weaning off the strong stuff. AND as you suffer the side effects of whatever your on.

    I got a little pissed off at my doctor the other day, still suffering side effects of Gabapentin and Anatryp – I’m doing so well and kinda hoped to negotiate reduced dosage. No such luck! :-/

    Good luck with that course, It’s good to have some things on the go that aren’t all about pain management or rehabilitation. Enjoy it as much as you can, if it gets too tiresome it’s totally OK to let it go in favour of DVDs! :-)

    Have a good week and good luck with juggling meds.

    • I just love hearing from you Julia; it’s like getting a ray of sunshine in my inbox =-) Thanks for the encouragement! My therapist said I should take a day’s worth of pills out of the bottle and set them next to a day’s worth two months ago so I get a better sense of my progress visually =-)
      So glad to hear you got to do some walking around (carrying a pack, no less! Awesome!!) and I hope your side effects recede a bit. I had a lot better luck with Lyrica than Gabapentin, but I simply refused to take the higher gabapentin dose because it made my limbs go numb overnight (because it made me sleep so deeply I stopped turning over). Those CNS depressants are dangerous when they are too much for your body! Maybe he’ll let you drop your dosage after you’ve been at a controlled level for longer?

  2. Hi Jessica ~ getting ready for my first consultation ~ thank you for your note at my place…. means a lot — will share anything I learn of course. And with regard to your post here – totally understand and have travelled this path — both with the opiods and benzos/muscle relaxants. Now completely unable to take a single narcotic due to bile duct issue – but know exactly what you describe here…
    stick with the blogging…even if sporadic ~ i think you will find people here who “get it” in a ways many cannot. Sending you lots of love ~ keep on keeping on … I will try too! xo Robyn

  3. Thank you for posting the link to “Letter to people WITHOUT chronic pain”. Any guidance in the area of understanding of how to be supportive is enlightening. Healing thoughts for all of you here.

    • Glad you found it helpful–I was first getting exposed to this stuff over a decade ago through a fibromyalgia sufferer’s blog, so I forget you may not have seen it. I also don’t have anyone in my life who refuses to accept my word about how I’m feeling and what I need; it’s like throwing good spoons after bad–so that really isn’t an issue for me.

  4. Phew Jessica, so glad you chose your blog this year as I have only just found the world of blogging and your stories I relate to and I love the way you write! Congratulations to you to be doing your course, you know you might surprise yourself and not quit somewhere through it,sounds like you are doing an amazing job jugging all of this and your pain. I am hoping today is a better day being in a 3 day flare, severe weather cyclone problems in Queensland Australia and no power for 2 days, I think the hot weather was the end of me. Hopefully a better day today.

    Again thanks for your words…they are inspirational!

    Shazz

    • Thank you Shazz! We just started Grimm’s fairy tales, but I’m looking forward to the Doctorow at the end of the course!

      Weather systems are very common pain triggers because the changes in air pressure can cause aggravation to the nerves in the affected area. Hope your weather improves and you get your AC back! I’d have to get my bedsheet wet and sleep under that to survive without power! That is how I made it through the summer in Spain =-)

  5. As I read more and more through your blog.. You are truly an inspiration.
    In more ways than one. I’m so happy for you,that your outlook on things are better than before. Although I do not no the timeline,and how long it took you to get to this point… But it’s been a yr for me,and I’m still struggling to find “happiness”. But I do know,that I was given this challenge for a reason. And I am realizing that If there is anything,it’s to help others. Which is why I started this blog. To give people Hope and inspiration; through my personal posts and others who go through the same obstacles. I feel that this blog is an outlet for those with CRPS, to go to and read posts from numerous people who go through the same things. There are my posts, as well as “reblogs” , which 1) share another CRPS angels story 2) provide their blog with readers who need to read posts like yours… That are full with personal experiences,useful information, and full of inspiration.
    I also have a site called letsrocktheribbons.com that focuses on SpreadingAwareness about numerous causes! Especially CRPS! Which is greatly needed!
    I hope you don’t mind me reblogging some of your posts. I do it to spread your inspiration <3
    I love your blog! :-)
    Love,
    Heather Lynn

    • Aw, thanks Heather! The first year or two I think are the hardest–the pain then settles down a bit and you get more accustomed to handling it. Glad you are blogging. I’ve been neglecting mine pretty awfully lately, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to be more active again soon. I love it that you’re reblogging me, thank you so much!

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