Posts Tagged ‘withdrawl’

Drug Babies

Can you watch this video without grinding your teeth? I can’t watch even 5 seconds of it, and my daughter was one bad Doctor away from being a drug baby herself. I’m not going to rehash the details here, if you are new to my blog, please check out the early story starting here. However, I never mentioned that the first Doctor I discussed my potential pregnancy with told me to go ahead, to get pregnant on my narcotics and to stay on them, because it would be too stressful to quit. This advice didn’t sit well with me so I moved on to a new pain Doctor who was willing to help me deliver a drug-free baby. I say a little prayer of gratitude every time I see one of these recent stories about the upsurge in babies born addicted to pain medications.

Having been through a pain-related pregnancy, I have an intimate understanding of the difference between someone trying to have a family while managing a chronic disease, and someone stealing Vicodin to feed their addiction during pregnancy  (I am not equipped to discuss the disease of addiction here today, but I know it is a monster) . I have had the privilege of befriending many moms who have fought tooth and nail to deliver healthy babies, pain be damned. I am deeply worried that the general public, and their trusted reporters, do not/will not understand the difference. I am torn to pieces every time I see one of the recent reports, a bit of me wishing the story would disappear from our screens as quickly as possible.

I fear this current scrutiny will not benefit moms like me. In this black and white world, our gray-area-pregnancies are hard to explain. We tend to hang-out in the shadows, in our private chat groups, or the safe harbor of our homes. Doctors aren’t sure what to do with us, there is no research, so I don’t expect the average person to understand how I managed my pregnancy. I am worried that, after seeing this damning news coverage, the average person will feel they can tell me how to manage a pregnancy.

I guess I just wish I saw myself somewhere in the reporting of this story, some information about how moms like me use their meds responsibly, fighting the lack of support around every corner. Something deeper about why some of these babies are suffering as a direct result of the inconsistencies in the world of  pain management. If this story was as black-and-white as it seems, my daughter would not have been one Doctor away from a tortured welcome into this world. So please, take a moment before condemning every mom-to-be on pain medications, there is another story, even if I am the only one telling it.

* Please feel more than free to share your story, if you are so inclined. 

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The Lunatic at the Counter, or why you saw me crying at Target

Refilling my non-pain related medication:

  • My pharmacy registers it in their handy refill program, I get a $5 gift card.
  • My prescription is ready 2 weeks before I actually need it.
  • NOTE: in this example I never look like a drug addicted lunatic.

Refilling my pain medication:

  • Submit a monthly email request to my Doctor on Monday, a process she insists on.
  • Call the office 3 days later, after receiving no response to my email.
  • Go to the office on Thursday, the day my prescription runs out, and refuse to leave until I get my paper.
  • Take order to the pharmacy, wait 30 minutes to discover that the insurance requires something else of my Doctor. It’s after 5pm (the only time a working mom has to hang around Target, bribing her daughters with trips to the toy isles).
  • I am now completely out of the medication that I need to control my pain (because they track it that closely), medication I have taken for years without incident (I’ve never lost even a pill).
  • I beg the pharmacist for mercy, to which she nods apologetically, promises to call my Doc immediately in the AM and wishes me luck with that withdrawal.
  • I cry like a crazed lunatic as I push my kids out of the store in that damn squeaky cart.
  • The migraine I wake-up with in the morning drives me immediately to the coffee shop and then the pharmacy to remind them to call my Doc. They promise to call my cell the second the refill comes in.
  • I drag my ass to work in some pretty serious pain. Call my Doctors office and beg them to fix the prescription before the end of the day.
  • It is Friday afternoon and I am still waiting – the weekend threatening.
  • In two hours I will have to leave work early and visit my Doctors office in order to stand at the counter until they find someone to fix the damn prescription. Mustering the crazy will not be hard because this headache would make anyone a little edgy.
  • If I cannot get the medication fixed, I will end up in the emergency room this weekend and they will stamp a big red drug seeker on my chart.

This is not an unusual week for me, this mess happens all of the time for one reason or another. However, it is endlessly frustrating, degrading and unhealthy. I understand that there are systems in place to protect the drug abuser, but why does it have to create such hardship for those of us just trying to have a decent quality of life? The entire system lacks any sense of empathy for the patient, the person it is supposed to be serving. And, I pay $1,700/month for this amazing service.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Birth Story

I am not immune to the allure the birth story. Any mom worth her salt jumps at the chance to share all of the gory details, so please forgive the length of my indulgence and here we go:

This story is quite the opposite of my first tale involving 36 hours of  labor – leading to a grand C-section finale. My Doc recommended against a V-back, guaranteeing we’d have her at the knife and allowing her to control my pain throughout the scheduled surgery.  So we packed up our eldest, took her to Grandma’s house for some insane spoiling and headed for the hospital, labor-free.

It is a bizarre feeling to know when you will give birth, the calm seems ridiculous in some way. I was far more aware of the delivery this time (and the epidural needle), it was incredible and terrifying to take in.  I will remember the very first moment I saw my little one, my Doc popping her squirming, screaming body up over the white sheet, for the rest of my life.

She was born as perfect as perfect can be. Not a single symptom of withdrawal. Not a single symptom…it still fills me with a sense of relief.

For those following along for the pain details, here’s what went down: My Doc left me on the epidural for 24 hours and it worked beautifully. It got me through the worse day of recovery without  hitch.  It was my first day free of pain in 6 years.

The hitch came the next day when they removed the epi and put me on a dose of pain killer. For some reason it was  1/4 of what I usually take and I crashed epically. Enter amazing nurse who ran interference and managed to serve up enough morphine to get me back to sanity. It took 8 hours and I had to drop breastfeeding for  two days to clear the meds from my system.

Enter also useless pain Doc. After the main surgical pain is taken care of, the treatment goes to the hospital’s specialist  – the one damn person I didn’t meet with beforehand. Although he never came to see me in my room, he threw down the red flags and spent 2 days refusing to adjust my pain prescription, calling my Pediatrician to report my drug use. The posse paid off and my Ped came to the rescue – delivering copies of our plan and research. In the end, the pain Doc did visit my room, he thanked me for teaching him something about chronic pain and childbirth. Yes, this man is the only pain consultant in the entire hospital. I take no pride in teaching him, just disappointment at the state of the institution’s pain management.

I resisted the urge to smack him in the forehead and thank him for two days of crazy-ass pain. I was just too delirious with baby joy. We tucked our little one into her car seat, next to her big sis, and headed to our little home… grinning the whole way.

Done

Time to crack the champagne,  douse me in Gatoraid, send the family to Disney World! I have completed the triathlon of narcotic dumping. I’m still getting up in the morning, and  I have every reason to, the latest scan of this bug-a-boo is looking healthy and feisty, Graves Disease be damned! It may not be a trip to Cinderella’s castle, but a celebration is certainly in order.

The last round of withdrawal has been especially excruciating; after 4 months of leg crawling, sleep deprivation and migraines, I’m emotionally over it.  In the end, the sleep aids and quality time staring vacantly at House Hunters from my permanent perch on the couch are getting me through, but it isn’t pretty.

Without my regular doses of medication, the pain can be pretty unbearable, reminding me why I was taking them in the first place. When I’m truly stuck in a physically difficult position, like a long meeting or rush hour traffic, I’ve decided that a half dose is still an option. Trying to hold on to my blood pressure and sanity, while keeping this baby as safe as I can. Which is really just parenthood in general, no?

At 30 weeks (30 WEEKS!!) I am beyond impatient for a streak in which I feel well enough to come home from the office and hit the park with my daughter, prep the baby room or bake cookies. It is a difficult thing for motivated people to sit on their butts making plans, without the ability to actually get things done; as the world moves on, pulling you forward in fits and starts, you feel lazy. It is ridiculous, but you still feel it. I’ve been stranded on my couch for too long, its time to get my world ready for this little girl.

A little deluded

If you are not sleeping, you should not blog. No ones needs to see the unfiltered rantings of my last couple weeks. I may have posted to one or two TV talk show  forums, but a girl needs a place to speak her mind. Even if it is a little deluded. I am now celebrating a break in the clouds.

I’m down another pill. A bitter sweet victory at best, but I’ll take it. I think have discovered the trick I need to make it through the next four weeks of withdrawal, complete denial. It’s like putting blinders on a horse. If I manage each minute as it comes, it seems almost controllable. If I catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s pain, it all falls into one ugly mess. I have 110 days left of this pregnancy and each one is going to be a battle.

I have spent a lot of time researching how one makes it though pain and pregnancy without crawling into a hole to die. The medical knowledge being limited,  I’ve turned to support groups – other women who are doing or have done this.  What I’ve found has been discouraging.  I have yet to come into contact with one person who successfully went off of their meds completely. Therefore, I am constantly told by these well meaning supporters to give-up.  These are tough women, dealing with unimaginable pregnancies. I am left wondering if I’m completely insane or just ridiculously motivated.

I’ve decided to stick with my type A behavior for as long as I can bare it. So, if you are with me, or need someone to say yes I’ve done it and here’s how, this is what I’m trying now: mental blinders & modified bed rest.  I have been blessed with a fantastic manager, who is allowing me to work from home half the day, removing me from the torture chamber that is my desk. I am hopeful that freeing me up for movement and rest will not only allow me to drop the rest of my meds, but also give me some moments of actual, pure enjoyment during this pregnancy.

Even now, during the times when the blinders are working at their best, I grin to myself and rub my belly knowing that these 110 days are miraculous. There’s nothing deluded about that.

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.

Avocado

My current state is over-running my existence, so this is where I am taking the leap to real time. In short, all the the Docs gave their enthusiastic “go for it”, I dumped the Fentanyl patch in late November and we took our first and only shot at baby-making in early December. This being clearly wanted to happen.

About 8 weeks in I had that terrifying spotting, a symptom that leaves you feeling like this whole thing may be a figment of your evil imagination. I begged and bothered the nurse line enough to get an early ultrasound, a new level of “crazy expecting mom” for me. We left the hospital with our first two pictures of the healthy baby – deemed bugaboo until birth by my husband and 5 year old.

Much of this pregnancy is like any other, the morning sickness has brought me to my knees and I am praying that it won’t extend a day beyond today. Working full time has had its challenges, I am holding onto my sick days like they are gold. The chronic pain stepped up a notch after the patch, but is still bearable with the help of the low-dose vicodin.  Having left the danger zone of the first trimester, I will begin weaning off of those pills next week. Feels like I’m climbing that first clicking hill of the roller coaster and the ride down will either thrill me or send me into a dark oblivion.

I have a pregnancy tracking app that delivers a little piece of inspiration to me everyday. My daughter especially loves the ones that associate the size of the baby to a piece of fruit, studying the pictures of lemons and apples  carefully. Yesterday she put her little hand on my belly and, squealing, felt the beginning kicks of our precious avocado, in that moment I felt no pain.

The Littlest Rabbit

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