Sober House

I never imagined I would have something in common with the inhabitants of Sober House, but these last few months have been a sympathy inducing experience.  I have considered myself incredible lucky to have somehow avoided the addiction gene, I truly cannot imagine battling a cruel disease like that along with chronic pain. However, after 5 years on relatively low doses of pain killer, I am certainly dependent. The fine line, for those playing along at home, is that I can take my prescribed medication for its purpose without having the urge to take more for that feel good hit. My body has become accustom to a certain level of med, just like your hit of Starbucks every morning.

It is considered inhuman to test these medications on pregnant women, for obvious reasons. Some have been tested on mice and their babies, but even those studies seem to be pretty inconclusive. What doctors do know is that babies also become dependent on the meds  in utero and some suffer withdrawal at birth. There is also some speculation about addiction issues for these children later in life, but again, my docs haven’t been able to produce actual results.  Studies have, however, shown that the stress hormone caused by pain can have undesirable effects on a fetus as well. Chronic pain moms find themselves in a serious quandary – we are asked to remove as much med from our system as possible, without crossing the line to insanity on the pain front.

So, I find myself watching Dr. Drew at 4am, detoxing. Having failed my first attempt three weeks ago, the feeling of a letter opener jammed in my ribcage forcing me to re-evaluate my weaning process, I am back at it with supplemental Tyenol PM. I have dropped 25% of my medication and am basically only treating the pain while at work.  Two things about this process consume you, the first is just the basic uncomfortably – even after 2 sleep aids I wake-up at 3:30am with my legs crawling, cold symptoms & headache. My body is doing everything it can to convince me to take that evening dose. The second is fear, you question every minute, hoping to do the right thing for this baby who is counting on you. Sitting in the tub in the middle of the night, trying to decide what level of withdrawal hell or pain is reasonable, you realize that no one else can do this. No one can tell you when enough is enough.

For now I am slogging through, as all moms do. Late night TV with my cat, dreaming of  midnight  feedings that no longer seem so excruciating.

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