Thursday, April 21, 2016

Drying Out

Houston has recently been inundated by sever storms, leaving parts of the city flooded. Three days ago, I watched on TV as civilians rescued their fellow Houstonians using their duck-hunting pirogues (flat-bottomed boats, for those not raised in the South).

I also saw the "most cowboy" thing possible for a cowboy to cowboy: roping a calf that was swimming desperately in deep water, pulling the calf into a boat, and hog-tying it so it wouldn't flail and capsize the boat. I tried to find video of the most amazingly cowboy thing ever, but failed. I have failed not only you, Dear Reader, but all the cowboys in the Houston area who spent the last several days roping cattle and horses in an effort to save them. They deserve to be viewed online and admired for their sheer... cowboyness.

Which is now a word.


I'm sure the OED will add it any day, now.

As the city of Houston attempts to dry out (hampered by the thunderstorm raging outside my house as I type), I'm also drying out, in a number of ways.

I'm drying out literally, because I had to take all of 6 steps from the car door to our front door in the pouring rain, after I went out for breakfast.

I'm also drying out metaphorically, because I've stopped taking the narcotic pain killers that have kept me going for the past few years.

About a year ago, I began thinking about it. I have a wonderful sister who is unable to take opiates (which we discovered after an emergency appendectomy back in 2008). They make her incredibly nauseated and ill. See as we have a lot of the same intolerances to foods, I began to wonder if, perhaps, we shared an intolerance to opiate pain medications.

"But, Ms. StrainedConsciousness," you say, "if you began considering this a year ago, why are you just now quitting the medicine?"

That's a good question, Dear Reader, and the answer is: fear.

I've been taking them because I feared pain, and was scared that quitting the pills would lead to an automatic resurgence in pain.

After a full year battling migraines, sciatica, and neuropathy stemming from the chemotherapy I had as a teenager, I decided to suck it up, and I found myself discussing the idea of quitting pain pills with my Pain Management doctor a week ago.

As a result of our discussion, she wrote me a prescription for 10 pills (as opposed to the usual scrip for 84), and told me how to wean myself off of them.

For the past week, I've decreased the amount taken: 1 pill per day for 3 days, then a half pill for 4 days, and finally, Tuesday night, no pills at all that day.

Before quitting the narcotics, I was typically taking a full pill every night before bed, and then sleeping for 9-11 hours. I'd wake up groggy, and usually fall back asleep for a couple of hours after 30-45 minutes of perusing the internet.

For the past two days, after not taking any pain medication the night before, I've awakened after 7-8 hours of sleep feeling refreshed and awake.

It's amazing.

I feel more lucid during the day, and I fall asleep more easily at night.

I'm still using muscle relaxants to help with spasms in my neck, shoulders, and piriformis, but mostly extended-release ones that don't make me groggy. Before I go to sleep at night - and if I have a migraine during the day - I'll take 1-2 of the "acute" muscle relaxants my doctor still prescribes (these render me unable to drive, as I'm considered impaired, so I try not to take them during the day, if I can help it).

The weather this past week has been a real challenge to my migraines, since rainy weather and high humidity tend to set them off. Despite the pain (and the fact that there isn't an acute migraine medication out there that works for me), I've managed to survive without taking pain meds during the day.

So far, so good.

There's the possibility that the withdrawal symptoms can continue to rear their ugly heads for the next two months, but I'm being vigilant, and also listening when my body says, "You know what? I know you really want to go for a walk with your husband and dog, but you can't. You're dizzy and your blood pressure just dropped. Go home, while you still can."

So for now, I'm waiting for my body and the weather to stop freaking out.

Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

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