This is going to be a big dose of my current reality. I am sitting at my desk, tears rolling down my cheeks, trying my hardest to prevent a full blown meltdown. Im not sure it’s possible to put what I am feeling into words but Im going to try.
Last summer, after 4 years, 14 different surgical procedures, dozens of Doctors, and with no more options available to help me, I decided I could not, would not, continue my life this way. I was damn near catatonic. It was unusual to see me out of the house. I didn’t leave my recliner. I just watched life play out around me. I was at my absolute lowest. It seemed like the only real solution was to take all of those pills I was prescribed at once and end the pain that had stolen my life from me. Obviously, I didn’t do that but it was absolutely on my mind constantly. Having intimately felt the pain of suicide, I just could not do that to the people I love. Although I was almost entirely disengaged from life, I was, at least, still existing.
It was no secret that I was on a preposterous amount of opiates. According to an opioid equivalency chart, the combination of medication I was on was the equivalent of 2+ grams of heroin per day. It was in pill form…prescribed by a medical professional…for the pain caused by a disastrous surgical complication….so that made it ok…..
I am no stranger to addiction. I have experienced firsthand the devastation it causes, both from the user’s perspective and from watching some of the closest people to me succumb to it. I recognized that there was no chance of me being better while drugging myself into oblivion. But I was already in more pain than I could bare, being dope sick in addition to that pain, was totally out of the question. I knew that the pills were destroying my body. I knew my liver was suffering. My kidneys. My stomach lining. Most importantly and significantly, I realized that the medications had destroyed ME. Whether picked up from a pharmacy or from a street corner in the hood, the addiction and dependency is the same.
On January 5 2016 I took my last OxyContin. I am extremely stubborn, hard headed even, so against all medical advice, I put my body through cold turkey detox. The withdrawal sucked but it was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated it being. The sickness came and went. There was no significant increase in my pain. All of the things I was so scared of never came to fruition. Within 2 weeks it was clear to everyone that this was a positive change. It has now been 106 days and I feel proud to say that I beat the beast that is OxyContin. So many have tried and failed, and honestly, I lacked faith in myself that I could actually accomplish it but I did. The battle wasn’t over quite yet though, I was still taking “breakthrough” pain pills. The sense of pride that came from dropping the OxyContin provided the motivation to stop all of my pain meds.
On Tuesday April 12 2016 I took my last Oxycodone IR “breakthrough” pain pill. Having already slayed the dragon that is OxyContin, I assumed that this detox would be much easier. Due to serious concerns for my overall health expressed by my pain management team, I made the decision to wean myself off instead of going cold turkey again. I gave myself an allowance of 6 pills and over the course of several days cut the dose in half until I couldn’t break the pills down any smaller. I took the last 1/4 of the pill that Tuesday morning. Wednesday was rough, Thursday was better. Friday I was ok. I made it through the first 5 days pill free with very few issues. How could so many years of dependency be broken in such a short amount of time?
The answer? It wasn’t.
Here I am today, 9 days after my last fraction of a pain pill, realizing that I drastically underestimated the mental dependency. For more than 4 years, I took a pill when I hurt. That’s not an option anymore. My body has recovered from the termination of opiates but my mind has not. At the beginning of this week, after a particularly busy weekend, I experienced something I was not prepared for – my mind telling me I NEED to take a pill. It’s not my body desperately pleading for the opiates, it is all mental. The cycle of “it hurts, take a pill” is so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I am literally waging a war inside of my own head.
The last several days have been HARD. Harder than I imagined. Harder than I ever expected. Or maybe I did expect this and that’s why I gave the bottle of pills to Nick to hide away somewhere I could never find them…..I know that I can function without the medications. I know that I am in much better shape without them than I was with them. I know that I can do this. My life and livelihood depend on it.
Yesterday I was purging random junk from drawers in my bedroom, trying to keep myself busy. I found something that should not have been where it was. My initial reaction was confusion. How did THIS end up HERE?!? It was on my mind all day and night. I have come to the conclusion that the HOW does not matter. The WHY does. The timing of what I found yesterday serves as a reminder that I will get through this. Somethings are just too big to be coincidences.
To avoid another 25 paragraphs, all I am going to say is Thank You Brock. I think about you every day and have for the last 5 years. It still hurts that you are gone but I know that you are here, helping me conquer these demons.
AND I WILL BE VICTORIOUS.
I know the devil fancy me but that don’t mean the motherfucker gets to dance with me.