No Pain…No Gain!

The laughter emanating from the dining room made it clear that my parent’s were still entertaining their guests, a couple from their church. From my location in the bedroom just a few doors down the hallway, I struggled to locate a comfortable position on my bed and begged the aches pulsating throughout my entire body to “cease and desist.” With no relief in sight, I crazily searched the internet for a home remedy and read with hope that hot packs and chamomile tea just might do the trick. Not wanting to interrupt but in severe need, I made my way to the kitchen where dessert was being served. As I rummaged through the cabinets, I commanded the tears brimming to remain at bay but to no avail. My mom asked if I needed help which brought even more tears. In desperation, I realized there was no tea and I began to panic. Realizing how unusual this scenario must be to my parent’s friends, I quickly explained that less than 72 hours had passed since my decision to take myself off of the Morphine prescribed to me by my Oncologist for pain relief. The men were gracious enough to make a quick trip to the local grocery store for supplies while I recounted the last several days to my mom and her friend.

Having spent the last 9 years working in the social services field as a therapist or social worker and having experienced it first hand through friends, I am well aware of and somewhat paranoid at the thought of addiction and how quickly it can creep into an individual’s life. For this reason, when I became cognizant of the fact that I was no longer having any pain but realized the daily pattern of taking the Morphine had become routine to me, I made the rash decision to dump the remainder of the liquid medication. I quickly learned that after being on such a heavy pain reliever for nearly 4 months, I should have decreased to a less potent medication and tapered down with a very specific plan.

It took almost 72 hours of dealing with the massive withdrawal symptoms, i.e. nausea, yawning, depression, muscle aches, stomach cramps, insomnia, etc. before my mom remembered the doctor’s recommendations to follow a “step down” plan. Once I implemented the changes, the symptoms were easier to handle but still affected a major portion of my daily activities.

It’s been over 2 weeks since I discarded my leftover medication and while the research online indicated that most of the symptoms should have been gone within 7-12 days, last night I spent a miserable evening without sleep as I dealt with extreme muscle spasms and vomiting. During an appointment today with the doctor, he responded to my concerns by giving me yet another prescription for a narcotic to help with the pain. Despite my desires to deal with it another way, I was given no choice but to put in the refill in order to experience some comfort. The doctor assured if I followed his plan, I should feel no more pain and should be completely off all medication within one more week.

Throughout the past 7 months, I’ve considered it a personal challenge to find the important lesson behind each new step in my recovery. In this particular instance, while I’ve always considered myself to be a compassionate individual when working with clients who struggled with addiction, having the head knowledge and actually personally experiencing the emotional and physical difficulties that come with dependence is quite a different story. It has made me see that sometimes it takes going through a situation to truly put myself in someone else’s shoes, that sometimes it takes going through pain in order to gain an understanding and true empathy for another’s position.

Going through this time, I have come to understand that I really had no idea what addiction can do to a person nor the dedication, motivation and support it takes to rid oneself of such a strong attachment. I am in true awe of those who are able to walk through the journey of becoming sober…to suffer through the sleepless nights and overcome the gnawing fears and thoughts that tell you it can all go away with just “one last hit.”

Even though I have only been exposed to this high level of medication for 4 months, the level of withdrawal I have experienced is a great reminder that addiction is not prejudice…it is not biased based on gender, race, religious preference, economic status or based on a certain level of education. More importantly, it reminds me of a common phrase that should be applied to the way we respond to others and the way we make assumptions about things we have never experienced and above all, it reminds me to pray for those who are desperate to remove an obstacle in their lives that keeps them in bondage from living a life free of pain, shame and regret. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” And because of God’s grace, I will go, I will conquer and I will continue to spread the message.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jenn
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 09:00:46

    It is truely amazing the insight one can gain and compassion that one can give to another human being AFTER we have been through it ourselves. it is a very humbling feeling to think of what judgements we had towards the “other people” for doing exactly what we sometimes find ourselves doing. It certainly makes me appreciate the experience as it lends an understanding for others. I’m so proud of you Kelli and admire your strength. You are an AMAZING individual and everyone who knows you is blessed to have you in their life. I love you girl!!


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