Ever have one of those moments when you remember where you were at the same time last year? It’s one of those days for me. And I bet you will never guess this one…
One year ago today I was in full blown withdrawl from a pain medication that I had been on for over a year. Now, before you get too far ahead of me, let me clarify a couple of things. One- I was not abusing the medication. Two- I was too goofy to even know what was happening to me. And since it is obvious that this tale will not be littered with sordid details of drug abuse and any other forms of sneaky activity you may choose to stop reading- but you shouldn’t. The same thing could happen to you and you might not know what is wrong either- and your outcome might not be as pleasant as mine turned out to be. So, that’s right friends. One year ago today I found myself in one of the worst situations I have ever experienced. It shook me to my core and truly changed me. This is how it happened.
My sweet men and I were having dinner at CU cafeteria prior to Ethan’s soccer camp when out of the blue I become over-heated from head to toe. And not just a little hot- overheated. The kind of overheated where you suddenly begin to drip sweat and turn beet red- overheated. Shane looks up from his dinner and says “Rose! Are you okay?! What is the matter?!” Knowing something was suddenly very, very wrong I quickly said somthing like “oh, I’m fine, just a little hot” and quickly excused myself from the table. In the next moment I was in a stall in the womens restroom shaking, sweating and trying to breathe through whatever the heck was happening to me. I began to pray. “God what is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? Please help me Lord.” During the next 6 days He helped me in so many ways. There is just no explaining it.
It would help you to know that I had been through a back surgery several months earlier and had been on a non-narcotic pain medication for about a year and a half at that time. I had dreams that after the surgery was over and I was put back together correctly I would be able to throw the pills to the wind. I’ve never been very eager to take any kind of medication but especially not something like that and especially not for such a long time. (Though, I do realize that many people have to take even stronger things than what I was taking for many, many years. I do know that- but still- it was a big deal for me to be on something like this) After the surgery, when I still had pain issues I was disappointed. But, I was told, “Just give it time. It will get better.” And it did. It got much better. Just when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be free of nagging pain, it went away. Just like that it was gone. So what do you think I did? The first day I realized I had no pain, I threw the pills to the wind. Big mistake.
Any of you who have had any personal experience with strong medications know that you don’t ever ever ever just stop taking something like that. You taper down slowly. What on earth was I thinking, you ask. I had been told so many times that this pain medication was non-narcotic and that most people would never become addicted to such a drug that I just assummed it was okay to just up and quit taking it. So that’s what I did. Funny thing is, I quit taking it and then immediately forgot that I had ever taken it. A few days went by. And then it was like an atom bomb was dropped on my body.
And we’re back to the cafeteria where I am hiding out in the bathroom. My men are occupying themselves at the table while I am trying to pull it together. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew it was serious. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but I also couldn’t stop shaking and sweating and that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was this feeling of doom and despair that had enveloped me like a cloud. I couldn’t shake it- and I couldn’t identify it either. And what did I do next? I washed my face, took several deep breaths and put on a pretty face. After all, my baby had a soccer game and I could not miss it. I was screaming inside and I was becoming violently ill but somehow I put a mask on and went on about my evening. By the next day I could no longer do that. Shane had gone out of town that next morning and there I was. At home alone with my two little people who had no idea that mommy was sicker than she had ever been in her life.
What happens to someome who is going through withdrawl? I can only speak for myself, but it came on suddenly. One moment I was normal and then next instant I was violently ill. Shakes. Sweats. Body aches. Hot flashes. Rapid and irregular heart beat. Chest pain. Insomnia. Diareaha. Anxiety. Panic. Looking back, I can’t believe I was stupid enough to wing this at home. I had no idea what was wrong with me. Honestly, I thought I had slipped over the edge into what some would call “mentally ill.” As bad as the physical symptoms were, what was happening inside my head was so much worse. After 6 days, most of the physical symptoms had gone but not the anxiety and panic. They had become rascally visitors and they weren’t going anywhere for a while. About day 10 I took myself to the doctor. I gave the doctor my symptoms. She seached through her PDA for a few minutes while I sat shaking over in the corner. “I think you have a panic disorder”, she said. What! As if I hadn’t already been in a panicked state, I was in a full fledged panic now. I have never struggled with anxiety or panic or any other kind of emotional or mental health issue. I don’t say that proudly, either. So many people do struggle with such issues every day. Thanks be to God, I had never been one of them. What she said just didn’t sit right with me. I kept praying. Then, after a couple of days spent in despair over the possibility that I am still feeling such anxiety and that some doctor (who had never previously met me, by the way) has told me she thinks I have a panic disorder, something so simple occurred to me. Just ask Him.
I had been depending on God for every second of my existence for the past couple of weeks. He was the only way I got through the physical symptoms. He was sustaining me while I continued to struggle with anxiety and panic. So I asked Him. “God please tell me what is wrong with me. Please show me what is wrong in my body.” And just as simply and quickly as I had asked, His answer came. The pain medication. I had stopped taking it suddenly. Immediately a peace came over my body and soul and I knew it was the truth. He had just given me the answer.
I immediately called my mother who concurred that every symptom I had was consistant with drug withdrawl. I breathed a huge sigh of blessed relief. I had not lost my mind. And slowly, over time, the anxiety went away as well.
I am writing about this for a several reasons. One reason is that I still think about it alot. I am so grateful to my Creator for a sound mind and a healthy body. I am so grateful that He cares when things like this happen. I am so grateful that He gave me the answer to what was wrong with me, that he returned my sound mind to me. Another reason I share this story is so you won’t do something as foolish as what I did. I could have died. And I sat at home and tried to just get through it. It was irresponsible of me- I have children to take care of. Not only was it foolish of me not to get myself to an ER, it was also foolish of me to stop taking any medication so auddenly. I will never treat medication so flippantly again. I have vowed to remember that anything I put in your body will have an effect of some kind and I have promised myself to remember that my body is not a machine.
I remembered this today because today is Ethan’s last soccer game, just like last year. This year, we aren’t going to the final soccer game because Ethan has croup. Last year it was a totally different situation but one thing is still the same: He is the same yesterday, today and tommorow. Praise be to God!