Monday, January 4, 2010

Kickin' It

I decided on New Years Eve that I was going to stop taking the opiates I've been on for over a year now. Cold turkey. I honestly didn't think it was going to be a huge issue, I was sure it would be a little uncomfortable but I was pretty sure I was prepared. I want to get healthy again. I want to not be fuzzed out all the time. I want my sleeping habits to get back to normal. With all these positives in mind, I took my last pill of the year at eleven that morning. By three o'clock the next morning I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable but I was doing it. I made it past the stomach cramps and the irritable feelings but by forty hours in, my muscles were spasming out of control. It was like restless legs syndrome all over my body, simply the worst feeling in the world. I tried to sleep. I had taken 1mg of Ativan to ease me through the worst part of the withdrawl and help me sleep. It didn't help. I took a second mg of Ativan and then a third. Finally I broke down and took a pill. I felt defeated. I can't believe I didn't make it. It was the longest forty hours of my life and I couldn't make it. The feeling of wanting to rip off my own skin was too much for me to handle. I hate to admit it but I think I'm going to need to seek professional help to get off these meds. When I think back to this time last year, after Calvin had just died and I was sicker than sick with e. coli, addiction to the meds never occurred to me. The soft fuzzy blanket of numb that wrapped itself around the sharp edges of my pain appealed to me. Instead of the searing emotions, that feeling of having my heart repeatedly ripped out, my grief had become numb. Bearable. At the time, I needed it. I wanted to die in the months that followed Calvin's death and I couldn't stand the pain. The infection was a vehicle for the meds, a means to an end. In the months that followed, more pelvic problems that required strong pain relief. What should have been my first clue was when I started buying pills off the street. In January of last year at one point I had three different strengths of Dilaudid, Morphine, Percocet, T-3's as well as Valium and Ativan. I was mixing them to adjust the degree of numbing I was used to. It's amazing to me that I didn't overdose and die. At one point, I ended up going back to my doctor and telling him I needed a prescription for long acting pain relief. He put me on a twice daily dose of hydromorphone contin. I've been down to just those two pills a day for a little under six months now. I didn't think it was going to physically kick my ass this hard to try and get off them. I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed that I hid my pain in pills for so long that I'm physically addicted. I'm scared about how I'm going to make it past the withdrawl to get off them. I don't want this life anymore. While at one point in my grief I wanted to die, I now want to live for my daughters, for my husband and for myself. I hate what I've done to myself.

Not only am I ashamed at the "distaste" I've had for people with addiction problems, I'm ashamed to realize I am one of them. I've always prided myself at never getting into street drugs more than smoking a little pot when I was a teenager. I've never done cocaine, or acid, or ecstasy or any of the other designer drugs out there. I've always been very cautious about drugs, always a little on the square side. I haven't even drank alcohol more than four or five times in the last five years. Yet here I am, comfortable enough to take pills because they come with a prescription and then to buy them from people I know because I've taken them before and know what to expect. It's terrible to realize you've become one of "them". Not only that but it's shameful to me that I've been not giving myself the chance to fully feel the extent of my grief. In some ways, I'm not sure how things would have gone for me had I chosen to plunge headfirst into the darkness of my grief after losing Calvin. I do know there were several days that I contemplated taking my own life after he died. I felt a failure as his mother, for not being able to protect him, for leaving him to lie in the ground alone. I felt it was my responsibility to be with him because it went against everything in me to "abandon" him to death. I hid away in the drugs until I could talk about him without screaming, until I could get past the feeling of wanting to rip my hair out and fall to the ground pounding my fists and wailing his name. In truth, I wonder if I will plunge into that abyss once I'm off the pills. I hope sufficient time has passed that it's bearable. I hope that coming out of the fuzz will renew my energy, reinforce the committment I've made to spend more "kid" time with my girls, playing with them and enjoying their childhoods. I know I have to do this, that I WANT to do this. I'm just not sure HOW to do it now that I've failed miserably at going the cold turkey route.

I guess part of me is also afraid of being judged. I worry how people will perceive me as a person, as a mother, as a sister, as a friend now that the extent of my addiction is out in the open. I worry that people will realize that I'm not strong at all, that I couldn't face the death of my child without burying my feelings in pills. I worry that there will be condemnation for what I have allowed to happen to me or that people will nod and say "So that's whats been going on with her." Part of me wants to shout and rationalize and list all the terrible things that have happened since Calvin died and say, "See, see what I've been through this year?", as if those things would give me a reason. And while yes, there are reasons, I do know that other people survive tragedies also and they do it without burying themselves in a prescription bottle. I'm determined to hang onto my identity through all of this. I don't want to be thought of as an "addict" or have the consequences of my actions define who I am. I am still me. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. I am a woman who has been hurt terribly in my life and is still standing. I am a survivor who has made the decision to live rather than die. I am a woman with hope, for myself, for my children, for my family. It's not going to be easy and I'm sure I will need support in the days I am feeling discouraged but I do know this is something I WILL overcome. Please say a prayer for me.


  1. You are very strong to even to begin to admit that this has become a problem...I commend you for that. Seeking professional help would probably be your best bet and you have to the right attitude to get where you want to be. May God bless you and guide you on your new path. With lots of thoughts, love prayers!!

  2. Oh Margaret,
    You are very brave indeed. I had a problem as you well know. It started with the xanex and the percocet they sent home with me after I had Zoe. I think my dr. continued to give them to me for months out of guilt for what had happened. I truly believe in my heart that this was the true reason he wouldn't take me on in this pregnancy.
    After that I was found to have a bulging disk with a tear and began to see a pain doctor. That's when I began taking morphine and hydrocodone daily.
    I had the script, so I didn't see a problem. I, like you, realized the problem was there once they stopped the meds. I bought them off the 'street' as well.
    I was in physical pain, but I used them to dull the emotional pain of being a single mom and grieving my lost little girl.
    You were brave to even try cold turkey. Do you think that you may try weaning off as opposed to some sort of treatment? It sounds like the withdrawals are what you couldn't handle. Weaning down, would let that happen much more gradually.
    It's easy to feel like a failure. Two weeks ago my ob gave me some pain pills for my bulging disk, and even after being off for all this time, it was still hard when they were gone.
    I'm SURE more dead baby mommas struggle with this than will admit it.
    Good for you for being honest. You may help someone else and never know it.
    Anyway, I've hijacked your blog enough now. Send me an email if you'd like to talk to me. I may not be much help, but I've been where you are and you can do this. You may just have to go easy on yourself and try a different way.
    Love you so much..

  3. You did what you had to do in order to function as a mom and wife after losing Calvin. Those "sharp edges of pain" do cut like a knife and had to be dulled for the time being. The fact that you want to get off everything is admirable--and there is no shame in realizing you are ready to make that change and may need some help to do so.

  4. You know Margaret, while I didn't stay on the Percocet after the cesarean for more time than I needed it for - because, I was SO stubborn and determined to bear another child "asquicklyaspossible" - I did succumb once, at Halloween that year, 21 days after Josie died. I cried my eyes out for hours on the chair by the bed. Harry pretended to be asleep because he had no idea how to deal with it. I hadn't been on Percocet for a while - two weeks I think - but that night, I took them out, crying, went to the sofa, crying, got a glass of milk and a couple of Oreos and took two pills. Just to numb myself.

    So, I know what you're talking about. My way of coping with Josie's death was a combination of aiming to get physically better as quickly as possible, along with talking and talking about it. I'd had counseling twice before in my life, which really helped me understand the emotions I was going through - that was an advantage at the time. But that time, the drugs won - I knew what I was doing and I did it anyway.

    I woke up a couple of hours later wondering who was breathing in the room with me so loudly: it was me.

    You're not "weak" mama. This has been a stumbling block, yes, but, perhaps now, you're ready to lift yourself out of that. Do I think you'll crash and burn? No! Why? Because you are ready to release the drugs! That, to me, says you're ready to start crawling out of the hole: you're ready to rejoin the circle of life. And that is wonderful - that's a really good thing.

    Now, we just have to make sure you get the help you need to withdraw properly without getting the shakes. So, you know now, to go to your doctor and tell him all about it: he will have some ideas, I am absolutely sure. Once you get the help, I think you'll find it easier than you think to shake this off.

    You're right - opiates do make you feel really fuzzy - now, it's time to kick them to the curb, and open up your eyes, and see that life has not deserted you.

    Everything is going to be fine, mama. XxXxX

  5. Oh Margaret,

    no judgements here, friend, just huge hugs and lots and lots of support. there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. none at all.

    thinking of you


  6. Withdrawal sucks, no matter how old you are.

    You took the drugs you needed. Your body got used to having them around. There's no shame in that.

  7. There should be no judgement for you did what you had to do to survive the loss of your precious boy. I think that it shows how strong you are to now admit that you have need to do something about it to be there for your family. The first 2-3 weeks after losing cadynce i was self medicating as well with the percocet and vicodin and the sleeping pills that they gave me when i couldnt sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and might still be except for the fact that i started to have an allergic reaction to them and they made me sicker than a dog (worse than the worst hangover let me tell you).

    I am proud of you for making the decision, as they say the first step is always the hardest. I will be praying for you that you are able to stop un aided.

  8. Margaret, I wish I could give you a big, fat hug. No judgments from me. No profound advice, either. My grandmother had 14 children, and of those 14, only one has never had an issue with some sort of legal controlled substance. I have seen the ups, the downs and the everywhere-in-betweens in my family, as well as with some close friends. Dependency comes out of nowhere, for so many different reasons, and attacks the least suspecting. Be proud that you are taking the steps that you need to take to overcome. Be proud that you trust in your blogging friends enough to put this out there ... and to take the support that each of us has to offer. Hugs, prayers and much love....

  9. Wow sweetie, no judgements at all. I don't know how anyone survives a loss like yours without pills taking (likely only a bit) of the sharpness away. You are strong, you can do this, you are not a failure. Your body has just physically become used to this medicine, you need some medical help to figure out the best plan of attack. There is nothing wrong with thinking it would be easy and then finding out it's harder than you thought. How else would you know? Do not attack yourself for another thing. Cold turkey rarely works for anyone for anything, so PLEASE PLEASE go easy on yourself. You are brave to be open and you are brave to move forward, feeling it all. I have NOTHING but admiration for you after reading this and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Sending you so so so much love.

  10. Thinking of you Margaret. I can't say it better than Eva's Mom. You took medication that you needed at the time and your body got used to it. And they helped numb the terrible pain of Calvin's death.
    There's no shame in any of this. You are so brave. Be gentle with yourself and try and take it little by little. I wish I had some better advice to help you but I struggled and struggled to even give up cigarettes. Much love xo

  11. The first step of strength is admitting there is a problem. You are strong. You can do this. You can.

  12. A million hugs. You are sharing this with the rest of us, you are so strong Margaret. Please please do not feel ashamed, and here's to making changes in 2010 and to strength and hope.


  13. woohoo! you go girl! :) good for you. and of course, you know that there is certainly no judgement from ME. i've certainly had my problems with drugs. and to be honest, i drink entirely way too much now. knowing full well that i'm just furthering the grief process by not facing it head on. :(
    whatever happens from here on out, you know that we are all here for you.
    lots of hugs to you!

  14. I'm sure it took a lot to admit that and I think it is good that you want to get off of them. I hope that you can find help to do it successfully. I know when you first started taking them you never imagined that you would need them so much. Who could predict that? I'm proud of you. (((hugs))) Prayers for you.

  15. Never be ashamed. After Henry died I was in alot of physical pain from birth injuries but I took the pills because they made me feel happy. I craved that hazy feeling, I needed it like air. There is NOTHING in this world like the blow of losing your child, it feels like a head on collision to your heart, body, and mind. Pills are addictive, it's not because you are somehow a defective person, you are especially vulnerable because of the intense pain and grief you go through every day. You're not alone, I stand with you, I would never condemn you, you deserve only love.

  16. Oh Margaret, you are so warm and wonderful and supportive and I'm so sad that you feel ashamed. You experienced a terrible, terrible thing when Calvin died and, as you say, the pills enabled you to stay here for your girls in those very early, very blackest of days. I truly believe you are going to be able to overcome this. I do.

  17. Oh, dear, sweet, Margaret, this just sucks. I wish you didn't have to deal with this at all. So many people have already commented in front of me, but I just wanted to say I was thinking of you and that this sucks. You are SO brave and SO honest and I admire you in so many ways.

  18. You ARE a survivor. To live on is a feat in itself. We all want time to stop when we lose our sweet baby(ies). I pray for you to kick this addiction and take care of yourself. For you. For Calvin. You are a great mother, wife, sister, daughter,friend....and so many hold you high in their hearts. You deserve joy, Margaret. Wishing it for you...

  19. Thinking of you Margaret and sending you love. I'm glad you've shared this. Maybe, when you talk to your care provider, she or he will say as well that often it's not advisable to stop some drugs cold turkey. It's better to wean yourself off and then it's gentler on your body and your emotions. In any case, I'm totally with the mothers who've all supported you saying that you took the drugs you needed to function during a very difficult time. xoxo

  20. Margaret do not be so hard on yourself. Losing a child is HUGE - we are not supposed to live longer than our children and when that happens it is hard to be in control. We were on sleeping pills for months after we lost Akul. I am sure your doctor will be able to find a better way for you to get off the drugs - a way that is not so painful. We have all had enough pain in our lives.

  21. Oh Margaret, just hugs. No judgement and no shame.

    You took what you needed to survive and now you've had enough.

    I know you can do it. Asking for help is a step in the right direction.


  22. No judgment, only support. You will get through this, either on your own or with help. Getting help does not mean you are weak, in fact you are stronger for asking for help then not. Walking each step of the way with you. xo

  23. You are amazing. You endured the most horrific loss a mother could and perhaps the drugs weren't a good long-term option, but if they kept you from taking your own life in those dark days, then for the sake of your family, they were worth it, and I know you have the strength to conquer this addiction. You are brave beyond measure for sharing this part of your story and I wish you support and health in your next steps.

  24. You will make it Margaret... I know you will... You have all our love and support backing you up. Numb is a good feeling when this grief surrounds and tries to drown us but you will make it through to the other side and free yourself... I just know it. BIG HUGZ!