Editor’s Note: On June 9th, the National Pain Report introduced you to Gracie Gean Bagosy-Young, a CRPS patient turned crusader. We had excellent response to her story and asked her to contribute more frequently. Happily, she agreed.
Before I was injured and before I developed CRPS, the only thing I would take is a vitamin. When I injured my left hand while I was kick boxing, I had a surgery and was off the pain medication in 3 days. But after subsequent surgery on my right hand, when something went wrong, I was on the meds for months.
CRPS and chronic pain are a beast. They come at you and they beat on you constantly.
And like everyone else faced with the challenge of chronic pain, I looked for an answer.
My first answer – given my aversion to medication – was trying a number of things like gels, custom compounded ketamine creams, exercise, and physical therapy for a year before my doctor insisted upon “breaking the cycle of pain with meds”.
I began taking Gabapentin, Cymbalta, Oxycodone and Sonata.
I was on the meds for six months and I never felt like me. The pain persisted, I was chronically nauseous and vomiting, I was lethargic. I’m 5-foot-4 and weigh 135 pounds. In six months I was down to 115.
One night, on the way to the bathroom, I passed by a mirror and looked at myself. My red hair was matted; I looked gaunt (because I was) and thought to myself, “I look like a heroin addict”.
At that moment, while still looking in the mirror, I said out loud, “I’m not doing this anymore”.
So I quit – right there – cold turkey.
The next morning I called the pharmacist and told them I wanted to get rid of my meds and he suggested pour syrup into the bottles which will disintegrate the medication and then throw them away.
And then I got to the business of “getting off the drugs” – all by myself.
For four days, I was dizzy, nauseous, vomiting and had bouts of diarrhea. The only good news was that my physical pain hadn’t increased.
I decided to call my doctor and told him what I was doing. He was not happy. “This is stupid and not something you just do on your own; a detox like this must be done with a doctor’s help.”
I see that now.
It took me 14 days to get through this.
I want to state declaratively that it was stupid, arrogant and I would never recommend that anyone do it the way I did.
I didn’t understand addiction then – I do now.
One other thing, I’m not saying that pain meds are bad – in fact they are good – but they didn’t work for me. If they had helped me, I’d still be using them.
This was 4 and half years ago.
The easy conclusion to write is that I became all better magically because I had been able to eliminate my dependency on pain medication.
It’s not true.
My chronic pain, my CRPS, my misery persisted. I still had to address it and I’ll share some of that journey, how I became an advocate, things I’ve tried to make me better and how I use social media to connect with people like me in coming blogs.