My experience with the opioid crisis

A year or so ago i fell and hyperextended my back. Didn’t hurt much initially but i began to have what i thought was left hip pain a few months later. I saw my orthopedic guy.

I did the NSAIDS the topical analgesics, i had an injection both in the bursa and the hip joint itself. As the pain -burning really- crept done my left leg, it finally dawned on me i was having left sided sciatica. I had a lumbosacral MRI that confirmed spinal arthritis, a bulging disc and spinal stenosis impinging on the sciatic nerve. So, off i went to a back and pain center. I had 4 nerve root injections with steroids that offered limited relief. I then did 8 weeks of PT. At this point i was referred to the “back guy” in the practice.

He declared my problem a “surgical disease” and suggested decompression surgery. Fine, i was tired of the pain and interrupted sleep. I was scheduled for a bilateral foraminotomy (“might as well do both while i’m in there”) which would, hopefully enlarge the space where the nerve roots exit and provide relief.  I had the surgery in early Feb.

Long story short (as if), all the pre-op stuff went well. I had a consult with the hospital pharmacist because the plan was to stay overnight with a PCA -patient controlled analgesia and be discharged in the am with my post op pain being managed. The surgeon said he likes to do overnight PCA’s so that his patients don’t get behind the pain curve. Sounded good to me.

Only that’s not what happened. Basically the floor nurse told me no PCA because “it was better to transition” me to oral meds. I told him the only reason i was staying overnight and had 2 IV’s placed was specifically for PCA pain control. He didn’t say it, but his attitude said tough shit and he brought me a Vicodin.

Here is where i failed myself. Because of the current hysteria about opioid use i didn’t feel like i could make a scene and insist because i did not want to be seen/labeled as a drug seeker. So, i swallowed my Vicodin, got nauseous, gratefully got some Zofram and decided i wasn’t going to ask that bastard for any other thing. Even if it killed me. I didn’t see him again until morning, before shift change, when he asked if i was in pain. By then it was bad. I told him yes but i didn’t want a damned thing from him and told him to get out. He asked again, why and i told him through gritted teeth that if i explained it to him i would end up YELLING. Pure rage. To his credit, he did say i could talk to the floor manager, which i refused (same reason – no yelling) and then he said i could sign myself out AMA (against medical advice) if i was unhappy. If i had any clothes and a ride i may have, but i don’t think insurance pays when you go AMA. I heard him give report to the day nurse outside in the hall and he told her didn’t understand why i was mad. I felt a kind of evil pleasure knowing he “didn’t know what” he did. Maybe it would make him think about the night. I did tell the day shift nurse so that someone would know and she told me she understood my anger.

I told my ortho guy the story as well as my therapist who works at the hospital in palliative care and my T said he told the floor manager. I sincerely hope this person follows up and contacts me. As may be obvious, i am still pissed off. I’m not interested in getting him fired but if this is the level of care nowadays regarding pain control, we are all in trouble

I do not deny that “we” have created a huge problem and it is deadly.  However, if i can’t even advocate for myself, a former healthcare worker because of real or even imagined stigma,  what in the hell can the average person expect.  Not adequate pain control, it seems.



Bad days

I’m just having a bad couple of days and i’m hoping that by writing them down they will stop knocking me upside the head. Even as i write that i feel like a whining, self-entitled bitch. My problems are really meaningless in the scheme of things, you know?

For the past couple of weeks i have been crying – a lot. I don’t cry. I’m fucking in control and if need be fairly stoic. So, why now? My brother died about a month ago and i know some of my tears are for him. Normal crying, normal grief. Poor guy had a bad death, he went from his normal to dead in about a week. Lifelong alcoholic, who lived the way he wanted, trashed by a bad colon and sepsis.

Today my tears are, in part, because i got up today and really came to believe that i do not have a mental illness. I am weak and easily manipulated and when i was told i was sick i fucking believed it. Don’t get me wrong, i know people suffer with mental illnesses but i feel like a fraud. My life should be good and i’ve allowed my imperfections to be explained away by medicine. I feel like i am taking time and resources away from the people that honestly need them. I don’t think that is “depression talking”. I am considering walking away from these things and see what happens. How can you tell if something is real or a suggestion?

The other/real reason i have been crying is because i am responsible for my dog, Blue and while it is true she has “kept me out of the hospital” i did not want a dog. I did not want a reason to stay alive. Also, Blue has become a cat killer. She will even eat parts, in front of me, if i can’t get it away from her. She doesn’t know what this is doing to me. I recognize that she was born and bred as a hunter, but each time she kills i find my self waiting for the gunshot to ring out when the cat’s owner sees what’s about to happen. I’ve imagined how i will kill her when she returns with the next body dangling from her face. My father passed on a story concerning one of their cats a while ago. Seems that a dog out for a walk or something, happened upon one of his cats and killed it. My step person called animal control and the dog was confiscated and put down. The owner had no recourse reportedly. This thought fills me with despair every time i lose track of her walking on the farm and realize that i can hear her “cat bark”. One of the neighbors to the farm keeps a feral cat colony and this is where she hunts. My sisters’ two cats are also in peril along with her chickens. EVERY day and EVERY walk is filled with dread. She was intended to give me companionship and purpose but the walks are a nightmare. Her breed is highly active and must be exercised daily. I believed that we could walk the 122 acre farm each day and keep her happy and encourage me to exercise.

Now, i am not unaware there are possible solutions. I sent her away last year for 2 weeks of training with a method that uses a collar to give a tone and vibration – no shocking. You push the button which tells her you have a command like sit or come or heal. The issue is that it only works when she is in the transmitters line of sight and around a quarter of a mile away. Nice on an open field but limited in the woods and hills and such. Since she got away from me again today – completely my fault – and went to the “cat house” i called and whistled and waited for about an hour before i climbed the steep hill and drug her away. I was so terribly angry but i knew she would not understand any punishment so i didn’t. But this often means i punish myself.

I don’t want to put her down but one day i may be forced to. It would also be the day i die. So, as an adult who is capable and well, i am going to try one other option. I came home and in tears, measured her for a basket muzzle. Should get here in 4 to 7 days. She will be able to drink, bark, pant, take a treat but not grab another small creature and shake it to death.
I can’t live with this fear and uncertainty every fucking day.

Once again

I’m not sure if i have anything worthwhile to write about. I last posted in Nov. 2017.

My life had really changed – for the better – in May or June of last year when i finally realized i was hypomanic. After almost 8 years of depression and the despair it caused, i felt alive and excited each day. Funny enough, my mood improved after i stopped all my meds. In the past i had always been blamed for “the consequences” of dc’ing those drugs. But not this time.

With my newfound reason to try and live, i set about having house repairs and painting and new hardwood floors and a shower instead of a tub, something i’ve wanted for years. I grew up taking showers and have never embraced sitting in dirty water. I am a shower snob, apparently.

I think i wrote about some of the problems i’ve had by letting unknown people/contractors in my house. I was overcharged, had money and drugs (leftover opiods from previous surgeries) stolen while i was out of the house. Thought i had learned not to trust. But i’m fairly forgiving as a rule, so i tried once more and hired someone to lay the floors and build my shower and i got screwed again. This guy took off leaving the floor unfinished and the shower only partially finished. He was one those shady guys that evades paying taxes by asking to be paid in cash, I’m sure there are women working in remodeling and home repairs and whatnot, and they can’t all be good people but goddamn i’m hating men right now.

I had hoped that my mania would last until my projects were done. Fat chance. Once i accepted that guy #2 wasn’t coming back, my mood began to slip away heading back to depression. Trying to be responsible i sought out a psych. nurse practitioner and resumed an antidepressant. It now seems that starting meds again has pushed me into a mixed state and i am scary. So far, the only soul i’ve exploded on is my poor, sweet dog, Blue. Granted she deserved “some” correction but when i was done screaming and throwing things she was trembling and fearful of me. I have never acted this way with her. She couldn’t possibly understand my motives or even intentions and i fucking hate myself right now.

I am surprised by how angry some small nothing can cause me to become.
This isn’t the real me. As a result i agreed to start a mood stabilizer. And so it starts again. More and different drugs. I am so sick of handfuls of pills. So many bloggers insist “you must take your meds” but i got better without meds. I have to decide which path to take.


I’ve never been robbed before

I’m shaking all over and trying not to cry but i want to. This morning when i checked my wallet to make sure i had cash to tip my hairdresser, i found my wallet empty. I had about $70.00 in there.

I immediately went upstairs to check the contents of my lock box – where i keep emergency cash and an important selection of medication – you know, in case of the zombie (or trump ) apocalypse. Approx. $700.00 AND some leftover hydrocodone was missing!!!! It appears my stash of antibiotics, steroids , psych meds etc. are untouched but when i am calmer i will check more closely.

For the past 5 weeks, i have had several young men in my house working to repair old, peeling drywall in preparation for painting (and other fabulous ideas i have). I generally – despite what my T says/thinks – trust people. Until they fuck me over and then it is SO over.

I have tried to think clearly and not leap to accusations but i find i can neither offer an alternative nor believe that anyone but one of these people have stolen from me.

I’ve contacted and now spoken to the owner of the business, who has come and removed the young man that was working this morning.
The owner’s stated plan is to discharge the kid that’s here and try to ascertain who is responsible. According to him, there could be someone else ( who has also been in my house ) involved.

1:45pm update – I just got a call from the kid (j) who was here today and he confessed to stealing the cash and taking the narcotics – which he claims he sold. He says he robbed me weeks ago which pissed me off further b/c how dare he steal from me and then show up here day in and day out like nothing happened. I am so mad right now. I told j that i hope he realizes he will be spending time in jail for this – but i’m bluffing, i’m just trying to scare the shit out of him and make him think. I’m not trying to make this worse or ruin his chances at turning this around, but i don’t want to hear any lip about how sorry he is and how ashamed he is of himself.

What’s bothering me also is how or even DO i proceed with this company?

3:20pm update – I have met with the owner again. He seems sincere and as upset as i feel. He has offered to bring in an older, more experienced drywaller to finish the job, if i agree to continue doing business with his company. I have agreed to let them finish the job. I was going to hire this handyman company to go onto the painting, the installation of my new hardwood floors, and the bathroom remodels BUT now, i need time to think.
PS: o yeah, the owner also has 48 hours to pay me back the money that was stolen ( i uped the amount by $300.00 for pain and suffering – mine) and have asked him not to tell j that his arrest is not pending. I think a little worried squirming will do the boy good.


i could have poisoned him

Not that i would.  Maybe i’m just a little paranoid at the moment.  Not that i believe someone is going to poison me but i’m just a little more aware of “possibilities” today.

The “him” i reference is one of the young men currently working day after day in my house doing drywall repair. ( I just had to angle the laptop screen so that he can’t see what i’m writing. )    I think i’m just growing tired of the constant presence of people in  my space.  All of which i initiated, of course.  They didn’t descend on me uninvited.   Still, i am more than ready for it to be over.

The young worker took yesterday off because of shoulder pain.  Another delay.  So, when he arrived at the house this morning i asked if he had taken anything for the pain.  He told me no, he didn’t have anything to take.  “Here, take this naproxen” and he promptly swallowed it.

Obviously, he trusts me.  But, for some reason, i fantasized about how easy it would have been to deceive him and slip him a fatal potion.

I need to find something else to do.


my new provider – maybe

I waited 9 weeks for an appt. with my first ever psychiatric nurse practitioner. I have a soft spot for nurses – used to be one – but she is associated with the SOB psychiatrist i came to despise while inpt. locally a few years ago. However, my T assured me, when he suggested the NP, that the SOB only sees pts. in the next county over. (If you’re wrong i will kill you, David.)

I decided to try someone else after finally seeing that my pdoc of 5 years was really not trying anymore (or maybe that is me). At any rate, at my last visit with him when i was clearly manic, he told me to call if i wanted some seroquel otherwise come back in 3 months. I’m fairly new to the notion of bipolarity but from reading the blogs of sufferers it seems that most folks DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT when they feel mania approaching or find it in residence.

The visit went well, she called me by my preferred name (not my official name which i’ve always hated and try to pretend i can’t hear), and she took her time to get to know me and i wasn’t a complete lunatic – OK, maybe just a little but hey look at where i was.

I rated myself a 12 on the 0(fatally depressed) to 20(fatally manic) scale with 10 being ‘normal’. We reviewed my arms – length list of previously tried meds. and she suggested i start aripiprazole again as a “mood stabilizer’ because ‘what goes up, must come down’. I’ve heard that somewhere.

BUT…. aripiprazole is an AT antipsychotic, not really a mood stabilizer in the strict sense and i’m feeling lied to. Lying to me is so very much a deal breaker. This drug has anti-manic properties and honestly i’m quite enjoying my hypomania after being crippled so long by depression. I don’t want it to end yet (ever).

Maybe i don’t understand. Does medicating to prevent depression have to mean eradicating the mania, even if it is mild and desirable? Maybe the dosage is the key to the desired effect of antidepressant. Maybe at my dosage my mania will be untouched.

For now, i will take it. This fucking med costs almost $900.00 for a 1 month supply and thankfully Medicare covered all but $88.00. But, sadly, if i come to believe that my PNP is trying to lie to me again, i will have to runn oft – homage to O’ Brother, where art thou?


PS : I asked her if she would prescribe medical marijuana for me and sadly she cited her experiences with “young people who became psychotic after smoking pot” and said no. Damn. I will have to keep looking.

distraught over the dog

Blue is alive and happy and well. I am alive. I wasn’t sure i wanted to write about this, but i’m hoping by putting it to paper that i can let go of some of the bad feelings.

This past weekend blue and i went to the farm for our (nearly) daily walk. She decidedly needs the off leash exercise and the socialization with her 3 cousins. For most of the walk the pack stayed within earshot or sight. At the apex of our route, 3 of them took off quietly, leaving me with the great dane who never strays far. OK, i thought – they’ll be back shortly. I decided to continue walking back to the truck because they can catch up quickly.

But, on the way back, my anxiety ramped up and by the time i got to the truck i was sobbing. I have and have had moderately bad, somewhat irrational fear that she will either end up run over, shot dead or just disappear – never to be found. These fears are not without some basis in possibility as one day , on a walk, i got a call from a stranger who had found blue running along the highway just off the farm property. She was unhurt and oblivious to my concerns about her safety. I didn’t walk her on that side of the farm for weeks, terrified she would, in the end, return to the road and be killed. I lost my 11 month old GSP to a car probably 12 years ago now and i can still remember the thud and feeling her heart stop on the side of the road that day.

It doesn’t take much these days to start my anxiety. In part, i believe, because blue was given to me to help with my depression from losing my 11 yo GSP to illness. I did not have (or know) that i had MH issues before her death sent me to hell.

Now, i am the one in this relationship with separation anxiety. And it is so bad.

Long story short, i sat on the tailgate, sobbing uncontrollably for about 45 mins. until i caught sight of her across the field – looking for me. Even when i got her in my hands i could not stop crying and i wasn’t ‘right’ until the next day.

I’ve told my T multiple times that ‘the dog is going to kill me’ and i firmly believe it. As i sat, waiting, i became suicidal knowing i could not live if she dies. I don’t know how to stop these thoughts. I started taking CBD paste recently in an attempt to lessen my anxiety but i don’t see much change in my thinking. I have some leftover buspar that i may try.

I can’t (don’t want to) condemn her to a life without her friends or unrestrained exercise because she would suffer and become unhappy. I just can’t do it. But every day that comes i have to decide if we are going or not. Like the pain of childbirth, i seem to forget how truly bad it is when she is out of sight for more than a few mins. and soon i am distraught until i have her back safely (so far).

Today, i agreed to go to the farm to let my sister’s dogs out since she is away and my bil is working all day. I am terrified. How can i make this better? If she dies, i will follow.