Doxology: A doxology is any song or text or prayer that glorifies God.
This is mine.
Thanks be to Almighty God for deliverance from the scourge named opioids. Thank you, Lord, for giving me back to my family and my precious calling.
What are you talking about, you ask
Have you heard of the opioid epidemic? Here’s how it works: an unsuspecting patient goes to his doctor and complains about back pain that will not quit. The doctor prescribes opioid pain medication, because the patient begs for relief. For a while, both are happy, because the patient’s pain does not make his life a living hell anymore.
Then, accidentally, one day he runs out of pills, and his body does a number on him, and he begins to learn that he cannot be without his pills. Ever. He is not addicted, but he is dependent.
In my case, I recorded every pill I took for the last five years in a database. I never took a single pill that wasn’t prescribed for me, but even so, I was as hooked to the stuff as any junkie. To miss a pill meant painful withdrawal.
What opioids do to you
Now, dear friends, listen carefully to what happens to a person, a normal, everyday man like me, who is in pain and takes opioids — pills legally prescribed by his doctor — for relief:
- The opioid pain medicine messes with your central nervous system and actually causes pain. This pain can only relieved with — you guessed it — more opioids.
- In this process you can eventually not distinguish between opioid-induced pain and the original pain. You cannot pinpoint your pain anymore. Where does it hurt? Everywhere. Everywhere.
- You gradually disappear into a fog. Names, places, spelling, all impaired. Writing is dreadfully slow, because every little thing has to be researched.
- You sleep all the time. Your family’s life passes you by, because you’re just not there.
- You become irritable, even irascible. I never did, but many people do.
- The pills become the most important thing in the world. More important that family or work or hobbies. And why shouldn’t it? After all you are punished horribly if you don’t give them all your attention.
- Your doctors and healthcare providers begin to treat you just a little bit differently. With just a little bit less respect. Because they know you’ll blow up if you don’t get your prescription.
- Your body changes. Much of it I cannot even mention in this family blog. You become constipated. You develop problems in your urinary tract, with your breathing, with your weight, with your vision. Your eyes are constantly leaking at the corners.
- You become isolated, because nobody — nobody — understands what you’re going through. You cannot make long trips to go and see your friends and family, because what if you run out of your pills?
- Your sparkling personality recedes into the fog and you start disappearing into it completely and seemingly forever. People start thinking they’re losing you. You look as if you’re will die soon. And maybe that’s true.
There’s probably more, but I’m tired of thinking back on this nightmare that is now, thanks be to Almighty God, receding in my rear view mirror.
How I escaped
I understood that I had to get off this devilish concoction.
I went to my pain doctor and said (verbatim), “I need to get this shit out of my body.” He started prescribing less and less every month to wean me off it. After a couple of months I said, “Please, I need to go faster and get this suffering over with. This slow tapering is hell on earth.” The doctor said, “At your age, that would be dangerous. You have to do it very gradually.” So I tapered on my own, without his knowledge. At that stage, I still had to have full prescriptions available, because I would go into a panic if the stuff wasn’t there.
God blessed me with a strong will and a very non-addictive personality. I stuck it out. What helped me a lot (apart from praying day and night like a mad monk), was CBD oil. That’s the part of cannabis oil that does not make you high. Trust me, there were many days that I wished it had some THC in! But cannabidiol saved the day. It’s not a drug, has no side effects, and can be bought over the counter at most health shops. Its molecule (C21H30O2) is almost infinitely complex and does everything from killing cancer cells to opening your sinuses. No it’s not snake oil. It’s more like the 21st century equivalent of aspirin or penicillin. Oh, and it relieves pain.
I’ve been “clean” now for 165.08 hours; that is around 6 days. I don’t have to worry about ever going back, because I was never addicted, I was only physically dependent. And that was pure hell in itself. Besides, I gave the remaining pills a burial at sea down the toilet. And I will never get a prescription again, because I told the pain doctor’s nurse to shove the prescription up her ass, and the reception staff that they’re unfriendly and they disrespect the patients. I got applause from the waiting patients for this. I didn’t burn that bridge — I blew it the hell up with 20 pounds of C4. It felt better than — whatever.
Aftereffects of my ordeal
My central nervous system is now screwed up. I get spasms in my legs, for which I used to take Baclofen (a muscle relaxant). I don’t take that anymore, because it makes me sleep all day, and I cannot sleep all day, because I’m 75,000 words into my novel, Yesu’s Baboon, and I want to finish it.
I still take a lot of Gabapentin, an anti-spasm capsule. These things don’t have deadly side effects, and the help a lot.
I’ve become very emotional and I cannot speak about certain subjects. Farm murders? I stay away — they destroy me. Endings of Russian movies? Murder! I mean, emotionally, on me.
I look back on lot of my writing and I wonder what the hell I was thinking.
The pain is still there, but now I know I have to deal with it in different ways. Somehow the pain is not so bad anymore, I think — I hope — probably because my nervous system is so screwed up. Now I take two Ibuprofen and deal with it. It’s like a wildfire firefighter with his fireproof blanket: I pull it over me and wait for the burn to pass over me. I come out without eyebrows, maybe, but alive and full of beans.
What this nightmare has done for me
- I learned that to let go of your faith is to be lost. My faith, feeble as it is, was strengthened immensely by the wonder of seeing what God does for you when you ask.
- I wrote a book and the spiritual aspects of coping with chronic pain. This writing has kept me positive and has played a role in my turning it all around. I pray other people can be helped by the book.
- I finally started researching medicines, supplements, home remedies, and alternative medicine. I had a mental block against knowing exactly what medications were prescribed for me, and what they do to me. No mas!
- I feel as if I’ve come through a deep river, one full of crocodiles, and am now safe on the other side. I feel I am now qualified to finish my novel, Yesu’s Baboon, which will blow your socks off.
- I have my family back, and my family have me back. I am stronger than ever. I’m interested in their activities again. I participate again.
- I don’t see death ahead of me. I’m too busy writing. I need to write four or five lekker novels before I go.
- I have plans for the future again. I’m working on all kinds of projects. I’ve installed shelves for Anna to put her nick-knacks on, and I’m planning our spring garden.
- A spend more time on Facebook, which is our lifeline to our folks in the Old Country.
- I’ve become reluctant to use the word “pain.” I don’t take my walking cane along unless I’m going to walk a long distance. I don’t tell people about my chronic pain anymore (not that I accosted strangers to do that!). I am not defined by my pain anymore.
- I don’t catastrophize pain anymore. It hurts like hell. It will pass. I won’t die from it. Whatever…
- I work around my back pain. I know I have about 20 minutes in the morning when I get up in which I can do physical project, and from 5-20 minutes at a time during the rest of the day. So I get up and boogie during those times!
- I have forbidden my family to disable me. Anyone who dares tell me any object is to heavy for me to lift gets a scolding. I say to them: Do not disable me! There’s one person, and one person only, who will decide if I can push this wheelbarrow, and that is me! They respect that. They also let me nap whenever I want to (I get up between three and five in the morning and begin to write — I need the darned naps).
Again, there’s more, but this isn’t a school project. I’m just telling you stuff. Now that I look back on what I’ve written, I realize that I don’t know exactly, in minute detail, how I was saved. I was just saved. I don’t remember all of my swim across that dark, crocodile-infested river.
Maybe some lifesaver dragged me part of the way.