Chronic Pain

A 49 year old female living and dealing with lumbar back pain and fibromyalgia. Sharing things I do for relief, reduce stress and control weight gain.

Monday, November 10, 2014


After what seemed a life time ( reality..2months) I'm finally free of pain medication running my life.  It's true, it did.  Everything I did was planned around when or how long ago I'd taken my pain medication.  It was never questionable.  If it had worn off, and wasn't time for my next one, I couldn't do it.   I don't regret having to take it as long as I did but I do regret that my doctor didn't encourage me sooner to see what would happen if I stopped taking it.

My rheumatologist had mentioned in the past when I would complain about the various FM drugs I've tried not working that it could be the narcotic blocking it.  No pressure, just information.  You never could have convinced me that I could function without it.  

Wednesday will be one week completely free from a pill doing me more harm than good.  I think each two week step down was just as, if not harder than,  the first 3 days of being totally off.   

Wednesday:  I awake thinking OMG how am I going to get through this day?  Nothing for relief.  I AM NOT a bed person.  How in the world will I manage?  No NSAIDS allowed.

Text message from my husband: How u doin?
Me: Brave of you to ask.....then a list of complaints 
Him: no, your brave!

 My first accomplishment was to take a walk, which I done 43 out of the 58 days I've been on this journey.  During the summer I was swimming and walking in the pool for exercise.  Don't get me wrong,  this is excellent exercise.  Everyday that I was in there I was praising God we were fortune enough to work out a way to have a pool for me to exercise in.  All of my doctors have said, "KEEP MOVING".  Walking was a different story.  I had slowly worked up to walking short distances after my first stimulator surgery.   Several months later I was walking a little over a mile and increased to a good pace for me.  After I had the revision surgery a year later as soon as the doctor gave me the ok I got back to it once
more.  This time I couldn't keep with it.  I couldn't walk through the pain.   I stuck to swimming, walking, PT stretchs in the pool and riding my recumbent bike for exercise.  

A week before I started the tapering I made up my mind that I was going to walk it out no matter what.  10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever I could do was better than staying inside and fighting this battle with no other help.  Once I made up my mind I was able to do it.  I had to do it right away or I'd let the pain take over my mind and win.  After the walk I did a 25 minute stretch routine that consisted of all the back and core strengthening exercises that my physical therapist taught me.  It took and is still taking commitment to get it done. If I had an appointment I got up early enough to do beforehand.  I knew that if I could get my back a little stronger would help me in the end of this process. 

Thursday:  Each day will be a little better.  Not day 2 was worse than day one. 
During the time of day that I usually took my pain medicine my body was screaming at me. My back hurt so bad.  I just couldn't imagine how this was going to work.  I reminded my self I trust my doctor.  Why would he just torture me for nothing.

Text message from my daughter: How r u?
Me: A bunch of nonsense about how it has to get better than this : < (   A comment my PM doctor said to me on Monday when I saw him. ( you'll find after about 2 months your pain will level off to a lower degree and mostly stay the same.  90% of people find they feel so much better in the end)  I go on with my nonsense to text, " he obviously forgot I live in the 10%". 
Her: Well you've had victory with every other med step you've taken so we'll believe you will here too!! Take it easy.

doing a lot of soaks with this
It's that kind of support that helped me through some though days.  There are very few people who understand what I've been through I have many who care.  Even some of my readers have checked on me.  Thank you, it means the world to me to know you understand and support me.  

Unfortunately when Friday rolled around I had an added discomfort jump on board.  It started as a flaming throat and nose.  At first I just thought it was allergy but by Sunday it involved my ears and chest.  I feel like an moose is sitting on my chest.  I'm hanging in there since I have a doctor appointment Wednesday anyway.   Of course my old friend "the hives" have been lurking around just to make thinks a little more uncomfortable.  A few days I didn't have any but most days I had at least one and at most four.

I hate these buggers :-(

They'll never leave me!

I've been out very little ( besides my walk ) A trip to the fruit stand, very close to my house.  Saturday evening went to eat at some friends house and watch the LSU-BAMA game.  I really wanted to get out of the house and knew my friend would keep me laughing which would be so good for me.  I was right about that too.  I was happy to see my husband getting to watch the game with friends.  We used to always do something for the game but this season we've been right here.  Today I tackled getting gas and going inside Wally World for a few things.   I can tell you I've spent quite a bit of time soaking in the tub but it really helps.  

In conclusion I feel like when this allergy/sinus issue is better I can really tell how I'm feeling.  I feel like my back is getting stronger and when it does start to hurt from activity it's a totally different pain.  There is a constant "soreness" more than "pain" from the start of day that turns into a medium grade pain.  When I'm over this I can't wait to see how I really feel.  I'm quite surprised at how my back felt today and praying it continues and is real.  I guess what I mean is sometime when something else is hurting you can put your chronic pain at the bottom.  I'm not saying this a good situation but just how it can be.  I plan to update you in a couple of weeks to let you know how I feeling.  For the first time in a long time, I'm looking forward to each coming day.  

Live in Peace not in pieces
Iylana Vanzant

My big princess

P on his 5th birthday

My little princess

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where I am

Here I am 6 weeks into tapering off of pain medication.  I'ts going better than I thought it would.  My latest step down brought me to one half in am, one fourth one forth in afternoon and bedtime.

Initially I was taking 2.5.  One in morning, one again when I just couldn't take it any longer. (Anywhere from 2-4 pm depending on what I had to do that day) and 3-4 days a week a half at bedtime.

My first adjustment was one half three times a day.  After a week of that I was feeling like stepping down was for the birds and to slow for me. I decided to stop taking bedtime dose completely,  then stop taking afternoon.  NOT.  Two nights in a row of no sleep at all put me back on the half at night for a couple nights then I moved to a quarter at night for two weeks.

During this time I had a conversation with my pharmacist and she really encouraged me to take it slow.  I heard everything my doctor said.  It's not about the amount you were taking.  It's about how long you've been taking it.  She said the minor withdrawals I was experiencing will be much worse if I just skipped doses instead of tapering slowly.   The rebound period will be more intense after if I didn't take it slowly. 

I just wanted it to be over.  However, I took her advise and stuck with the plan.
My next move was half, half, quarter.  Two weeks later half, quarter, quarter.  Next week I will move to quarter three times a day. 

Funny thing is even though I have my hives flaring up right now, fatigue, night sweats and brain zaps,  it's not so bad.  Pain wise I mean.  As far as my back.  What you find, at least for me, after a couple days the half works the same as a whole.  It lowers my pain number to the same and wears off at the same time.  Same when I moved to the quarter.  It takes a couple of days but you adjust.  I'm understanding how it doesn't just relieve pain but makes you body dependant on it.  I've always understood the difference between addiction and your system being dependant, but now I'm experiencing it for real. 

I have more faith than I ever had in the last 6 years that some parts may get better. The ultimate goal is to have my stimulator give me enough relief to not need any narcotic and find a medication that WORKS for the fibromyalgia.  It's been long enough to stop dwelling on why I have to live with this.  It's about keeping myself comfortable in the safest way possible. 

I had to stop by my psychologists office to pick up some samples last week.  She happened to see me at front office and asked how I was.  I explained where I was in tapering off the pain medicine.  I shared with her my thoughts of how even though my pain increases at some times of the day it hasn't effected my mood.  In fact, I seem to be in a better mood than usual.  She wasn't at all surprised to here me say that.  They are downers, that's a down side she explained.  They can make you moody and depressed.  I'm now wanting to believe that if I can get off completely and the other drug my rheumatologist wants me to take for my FM works the depression will be better. 

Nothing wrong with being hopeful.  I've been hoping for years with each coming appointment something would change.  I'm just a little impatient getting to that point.  Some days the FM is worse than my back.  I saw my rheumatologist last week and he said I need to be off the pain meds for two full weeks before starting the new medicine.  (It takes that long to be completely out of your system) This will be the toughest part.  Nothing to help with pain and the withdrawals I will experience.  I have to believe it will be worth it.

I picked up a prescription and the pharmacist asked how I was doing. I let her know where I am and how it was going.  She gave me a huge boost of encouragement and some advise on what to do after I complete this last step down.  It felt so good to get some encouragement.  It's been hard, but I feel so positive about it.

Hanging in there full of H.O.P.E.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A new plan

As I mentioned in my previous post I've made some decisions regarding my medications.  At my last visit with my rheumatologist he discussed a medicine with me that has new studies out to help with FM pain.  He asked me to go home and research and for some time I forgot about it.  When I did look it up I was disappointed in what I found because the drug seemed to be used for patients detoxing from high doses of narcotics.  At first I was kind of upset thinking he had the wrong idea about the amount of pain medication I take.  At one visit I remember him telling me that some time your pain medication can actually cause your pain to elevate if it is blocking another medication your taking.  Then it dawned on me that he said to make sure and research the medication along with FM pain.  Not just the drug name alone.

After researching this way I felt better about what I found and read.  There were several studies and some patient reviews also.  I can tell you I'm shocked at my own self for even trying this after trying 3 different drugs for FM treatment.  Then some years later trying the Lyrica again.  This was the second time I'd heard this information from  Dr. C and he is my favorite doctor of all of them and I don't think he'd recommend the drug if he didn't think I'd get some results from it, even if small.  The draw back is you cannot take it if you are taking a narcotic.  Which means I have to get off of my pain medication before I can even try it.  Just thinking about trying scared me to  death.  Everything I do revolves around my pain medication.  What time I go somewhere, when I try and exercise, when I do any house work.  I could go on and on.

Right about the time I was considering this option it was time for my 3 month check with my PM doctor.  I talked to him about it and he was pretty positive about the medication too.  I started to have a little hope.  We discussed what was involved and how long it would take.  He said if I wanted to do it the best way with the least withdrawals it would take about 2 months.  He said towards the end my pain would definitely increase for a period of time then it would level off.   A lot of patients who have taken a pain medication for a long period of time and get off find that if they make it through getting off they find their pain is not any worse than with it.  

So why would I do this then?  For a long period of time I've hated that I have to take pain medication to get through my day.  I hate the stigma that comes along with it.  I hate how long I've been on it.  I hate the side effects and the harm it's doing to my body long term.

My stimulator allowed me to cut back, but it doesn't work well enough alone.  I can't say "it won't hurt to try" because if you've ever had to come off of a medicine you need to taper off of (not just a narcotic) you know how sick it can make you.  If this other medication works for the FM then maybe, just maybe things will even out.  I'm ok with not being any worse.  Of course if it's Gods will that I get "real" relief then hooray.  If not, I'm thankful to not feel worse for stopping the pain medications.  

Back to our conversation....he asked me when I wanted to try and I told him that I'd like to get through the holidays then get started.   After a few weeks passed and my husband and I talked about it more I decided I was ready to get started.  Why wait?  Maybe I could be done and better by Christmas.  So I made the call last Thursday morning.  I had an attitude going into it because I'm always complaining about the staff at that office.  I really like my PM doctor but it is so hard to deal with his staff.  Once I get to the back and I'm with him it's all good.  I've threatened so many times to go somewhere else but it's just not that easy with my stimulator.  

The nurse called me back about 3 that afternoon.  I told her in detail what I wanted her to discuss with him for me.  I told her if she had any questions it should be in my notes from my last visit because we talked about it.  It was Thursday and he wouldn't be there Friday.  She told me not to expect a call until Monday or Tuesday.  So until Tuesday afternoon I was patient.  After that, I was annoyed.  So typical of this office.  I called Wednesday am and left a message in case they weren't aware it was approaching a week I'd first asked for a return call.  By 3 pm no call.  I called back and talked to the front office.  This lady was certainly honest.  She told me they get a complaint every day regarding this matter.  I asked her to leave my message personally to the doctor.  She also said she would inform the office manager of what happened. 

Today, still no call by 9 this morning.  I decided to reach outside the office for help.   It was a long shot, but I didn't care anymore this an important decision I'd made regarding my health and I felt like my doctor didn't care about ME at all.  I text Mr. R and asked him if he happened to be working with my doctor that day.  He called me an hour later and said he'd been in surgery all morning but not with my doctor.  Mr. R told me he had no problem texting my PM doctors nurse and mention that he was setting up an appointment with me for reprogramming (this was true) and I mentioned the issue going on with them getting back with me.  15 minutes later I received a call from the nurse.  "what can I help you with Ms. Theresa?", she asked me.  Are you really serious?  I left a detailed message with your co-worker (his other nurse) and a detailed message on your machine.  She said the other nurse was working at another office this week and she really didn't know what I needed.  As far as the message I left yesterday she looked in my chart and didn't see any notes about what I left the message about.  I started crying and the next thing I knew my doctor was on the phone with me.  My tears were real, but I'm here to tell you sometimes a few tears goes a long way.  Don't be afraid to cry :-)

I did have to jog his memory and he remembered our discussion.  We talked for about 15 minutes and he reminded me this wouldn't be easy either way I did it.  He said my dose was low enough I could just quit cold turkey but I'd be down and out sick for 2 weeks.  His exact words were "you'll feel like your dying" and I believe him.  Or...we stretch it out slowly over 6 weeks.  Same results but a lower levels each day.  I will be completely off in 2 months.  I'll be dealing with some intense pain he said but it should level off in a month or so to where I was when we started.  As soon as I'm completely off I can start taking the new medication.  I'm really anxious about this entire process.  Who can put there life on hold?

I plan to try and keep you informed on how it's going.  I hope to get through this without to much discomfort so I will feel like getting on my lap top and catching up.  You wouldn't believe the emails I need to check.  In October I have an appointment with Dr. C so I can get some encouragement from him if I need it.  He's going to be glad to hear I've made the choice to at least give the medication a try.  

Wish me well and thanks for listening.  I know some of my readers understand exactly where I am and what my experience will be like.  
Living with HOPE (hold on pain ends)