Saturday, May 21, 2016

Life With a Little More "Life"

I've been completely off of opiate pain medications for a few weeks, now. So far, I'm happy about it. I feel different without the constant haze of brain-fug I experienced (unknowingly, mostly) for the previous four years of my life.

I wake up, now, when the sun's brightness wakes me up - usually around 7:30-8:00 - as nature intended, instead of sleeping until noon because my body responded to when the drugs wore off. I have a true circadian rhythm to my life that I previously lacked.

Wikimedia Commons
When I sleep, my sleep is more restful, and I'm dreaming more often - and remembering more of my dreams - and having more pleasant dreams, as opposed to nightmarish head trips that prevented me from sleeping soundly. Some of these nightmares were probably hallucinations, in truth, rather than me actually sleeping and dreaming.

You know those commercials for medications to treat opiate-induced constipation, known as OIC, apparently, because giving a disorder an acronym makes it less embarrassing? Yeah, so good old OIC is a serious issue for people on pain medications for chronic illness. Even more so when the migraines - for which you take opioids - is also a source of, um, "C" (see above OIC, and just remove the C, because: acronyms). Though it isn't exactly happening quickly, the gastrointestinal effects of constant opiate use are slowly working themselves out.

I'm not living in fear of the medication completely working its way out of my system all at once, leaving me with a shock of pain bad enough to make me writhe around, incapable of relaxing and resting. The anxiety of running out of opiates is also gone; the government's strict controls and occasional drug shortages rendered this a serious concern, especially if a new patient began filling a prescription for the same drugs and the pharmacy wasn't prepared for it.

Psychologically, I'm dealing with the migraines better. I'm taking very little in the way of medication, just some muscle relaxants when it's really bad, and maybe a couple of Tylenol. I'll also pop on the good old Cephaly if it's bad and I can stand to have something on my head. In Europe, the device is marketed as an "acute" treatment, instead of simply preventative, so it's worth a shot, right? And it did seem to help, that first time I tried it, when I caught the migraine early enough, so...

The only downside I've noticed so far has left me with mixed feelings.

I'm having difficulty with creative endeavors.

I used to write for an hour or two each day, most days, typically at night once my pain medications kicked in, or in the afternoon if I had to take them to get me through a particularly rough spot. About 30 or 45 minutes after taking the drugs, I'd feel a surge of creative energy and feel as if I simply had to write. Now.

That's gone, the creative urge evaporating into the ether, so to speak.
Or into a Photoshop gradient. One of those two, definitely.
Ever since I kicked the habit, the books I was working on - all those ideas, fictional and non-fictional - have dried up. I don't feel the same inspiration that I previously felt.

It's unnerving.

I used to believe that real artists didn't require chemical assistance to create masterpieces. I'm less sure of that, now, mostly because to accept that my writing was mostly the product of a opiate-induced fever-dream would force me to see it as less valuable.


For now, I'm trying not to think about the significant drop in "creating" that I'm experiencing.

To distract myself, I watch stand up comedians and comediennes on Hulu and NetFlix, or take quizzes on Sporcle, both very productive.

I go to Whole Foods and buy groceries to feed my husband and myself, because eating at home is healthier than eat at our favorite local fast food joint, El Rey (even though their Havana Plate is so f!&#ing delicious).

Bayou City Bites
I'm also mentally caching ideas for a new blog - one that would relate to my professional field instead of a personal blog - and trying to come up with a name for it.

On Monday, I'll start doing a bit of contract work for my dad, editing photos of his products for brochures and website use. This will most likely take place at a Starbucks, because only suckers work from home when they can go to Starbucks and pretend to be cool, hip, self-employed graphic designers that totally have a thriving business and aren't just doing some work for their dads since they have some time on their hands.

And I'll mentally wrestle with whether I want to pick up my Montblanc, again, and continue writing that fantasy novel, or maybe start researching that history of the British in Kenya once more.