Medication reduction

Medication is one of those topics that I find more difficult to talk about.  I feel more shame and frustration at the need for medication in order to function.  The cost, the hassle, the side-effects, the pill take schedule and the politics of it are all reminders that something in my life isn’t right.  Like many things in life it can be a love and hate relationship.  I love that I have options that can give me some relief, but hate all the other parts to it.  I cannot imagine living a life with a high level of pain constantly.

Is it really possible to cure pain with healthy measures alone?  I have read numerous books and have heard an abundance of people claim that they have found the cure for various elements and diseases.  I am also aware that there are just as many people who continue to struggle in spite of the effort to do anything possible for a cure.  I know I feel better when I continue to try new things, as it brings hope that someday I may be pain-free.

I am currently trying to wean myself slowly off of my pain medication to see if my body has adapted to the drug for pain relief.  In the past, this has resulted in a clear reminder of why I am on the medication (because my pain level is too high).   Though I strongly believe many people need pain medicine, I can understand how a body might adapt to something that one is taking regularly.  similar to what I experience because of my strong desire for a good cup of coffee.  When I have coffee regularly my body needs and craves the caffeine.  Without it, I have headaches.  I am willing to continue to drink my daily (or two) cups of coffee because I love the taste and there are benefits to caffeine.  With the pain medication I am currently on, I doubt there is any medical benefit other than keeping my blood pressure low because I don’t have the same level of pain.

I have currently reduced my medicine by more than half of what I previously have taken.  A few weeks ago, I started my “experiment” in medication reduction.  I had been thinking about trying this for months.  When the pharmacy accidentally gave me the regular pain medication (not time release) I thought this would be a good time to try this experiment since I could cut the pills.  I also was motivated by the drastically lower cost for the medication.  Initially I didn’t realize I had a different medication until the pain relief wore off after 4-6 hours.  I started by cutting them in half so it would work similar to what I was used to.  I had hoped to only take medicine 3x a day, but found that my body did better when I reduced the amount verses extended the time I take the medication.  When I attempted to wait 8 hours, the last few hours were pretty dreadful.  In the past I have experienced changes in various medications, so I understand somewhat how my body adapts to withdrawal.  I appear to be sensitive to medicine since I have greater symptoms on low doses than most people.   I am trying to keep myself active so the endorphins will hopefully kick in to give some relief.

Surprisingly after a few weeks, I am finding my body is adapting to lower medication.  The evening is much harder as it seems the pain signals are in higher gear.  I can only sleep on my stomach, as my back is in too much pain if I sleep on it.  I have never been able to sleep on my side as both my knees and back seem to hurt in this position.  As when I went on the medication, I find that I feel a bit nauseated especially when I haven’t eaten.  I also felt sick when I went on a hike immediately after taking some medicine.  I generally do better in the middle of a dose (I take something 4X a day), and find this is a good time to exercise.  If I exercise, it reduces my pain level.  Most of the time I can make it through the 6 hours without a great deal of pain, but occasionally the medicine seems to wear off before the 6 hours or I wake up with intense pain.  As I continue to reduce the doses, I may increase to 5X a day.  It is rather funny to watch the pills get smaller and smaller.

Though I am hoping to completely wean myself off of my pain medication, I really do not know what the end result will be.  If my pain level becomes too high for too long, my blood pressure increases, my energy level decreases, and I become more depressed.  The constant intense and all over pain is more than I have been able to handle in the past.  I love being on less medication, am saving lots of money and feel more alert.  Unfortunately taking medicine 4x a day verses 2 is problematic with activities, trying to be private, and sleeping through the night.  I feel grateful that so far this journey hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined.  At the same time, I anticipate the complete withdrawal may be more difficult.  I can feel the hope stir up in my soul of the possibilities.  I pray that my body and my Gow will bring forth some healing power.

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