So after 2+ years of being on gabapentin ("Neurontin"), which is a psychoactive drug used to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain, I finally decided that I wanted off. I mean, my dose had been increased several times throughout the years with still no help for the pain and too many negative side effects for me to want to take it any longer, especially if there are no benefits to outweigh the risks or negatives.

I tapered down after telling my neon pain doc that I wanted off, which she instructed me on how to do, but I was already not doing well because I had yet another instance where I was forced off of pain meds for a few days. It was a crappy week +, but then the night that I took my last dose I started feeling really, really awful. I thought it was just a bad bout of "fibro flu" at first, but as my symptoms continued to worsen and I was the sickest I could remember being in recent memory, even worse than when I had just been going through pain killer withdrawals. I told Drogo the second night when he got home from work how awful I was feeling, and how it just felt like really bad withdrawals and… then I kind of got an idea. I did some research online real quick (thinking that it may have been something to do with seratonin toxicity, which can be SO dangerous), but the only real change had been quitting gabapentin. My symptoms lined up perfectly, and I thought that I might be able to persevere at home now that I knew what I was up against. You know what I mean? It's just easier to fight a known enemy, even though I still felt increasingly worse. (And really? Going off of this med with no warning whatsoever that withdrawal symptoms were coming, much less that they'd be so virulent?! It was a very nasty surprise… but in retrospect, I should have totally seen it coming. Oh well.)

I had a doctor's appointment with my GP the next morning, and she was concerned. She wanted me to go to the ER for monitoring just because of the severity and concern connected with many of the symptoms, most importantly bad chest pain and very low (for me) blood pressure with severe and consistent near syncope upon movement. (I actually collapsed/passed out in front of CVS right after the appointment, but Drogo was there to catch me and lower me to the ground. I really gotta stop collapsing in pharmacies.

We decided not to take me into the Emergency Room because, even though insurance covers a lot of the expenses… the hospital is NOT a cheap place, not by any stretch of the imagination. Khal Drogo was stuck in a hard place, seeing me so sick and knowing that I really ought to go in, but looking at the long-term of our financial situation and just feeling that, well, we can't swing it. Ever watch Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe? He finds himself in similar situations as he struggles to feed, clothe, house, and keep his family healthy in the midst of the Depression. It was not easy to watch Drogo wrestle with the decision… it hurt me to watch him have to make such a terrible choice.

A few hours after my appointment, however, I was still worsening, and fast. I texted mom and RDad to tell them what was going on, mom called RDad, and Rdad called Drogo to tell him that finances weren't a concern. Get me to the hospital. The timing was great, because I had just texted Drogo from the bedroom saying that "I am getting worse, and I don't know how much more I can take." I broke down crying about that point, because while I deal with a great amount of pain on a regular basis I am also worn down from doing that for so long without any significant relief at all. The "regular" pain combined with the awful withdrawal symptoms and pain was just too much for me, and so on the 3rd day of withdrawals I ended up in the Emergency Room. I hadn't been able to eat hardly anything the past few days, and that morning I'd only had a small applesauce snack cup, so I started getting pretty ill from not being able to eat while in my ER room in the back. In addition to that, I wasn't allowed to take my own meds and so the time for pain killers came and went… and my pain (a 9.75 when I came in to begin with), skyrocketed. I finally fell apart after a few hours, especially after having to get up and move around for x-rays, and I started sobbing and wailing uncontrollably which lasted for an hour or two before I was given something that took the pain back down to manageable (about 9.5 again).

Yesterday was kind of a blur, but I know I was eventually admitted and I haven't broken down crying since. The pain has been bad, don't get me wrong, but below a 10, and I am okay with that!! LOL. During initial triage, the nurse that was trying to take my blood and put an IV in just wasn't doing a good job somehow. The tourniquet hurt like nobody's business, driving my already high pain up, and then she was digging around with the needle and tapping on it for over a minute before I told her to just use the other arm. I couldn't handle the tourniquet pain any longer. She hit a nerve (twice!) as she pulled out and I couldn't help but scream and start sobbing again. I actually blacked out for a split second because it hurt so badly. It startled me.

I've had some great nurses, though, and the doctor who saw me was good. Professional. Friendly, but genuine. He's keeping me overnight again, since I'm still so symptomatic and not doing well… sending me home would not be a good idea right now. I feel much safer and way more comfortable here, with regular medicine application, constant saline drip in my IV, nausea meds, and a type of synthetic opioid, methadone, that is actually used in detox programs for opioid addicts. My pain is still hanging out in the 8-9 level, but that's "normal" for me anyway, and my pain is being aggravated by all the other stuff so it's not a big surprise. I'm getting the methadone and tramadol, as well as IV solu-cortef, which is what's in the "stabby stabby" that I have to administer when I get into an accident or whatever to avoid adrenal crisis. It is more potent than the tablets I normally take, and I can feel it keeping my body more relaxed and stable. It's nice. I thin that was part of why I "collapsed" in the ER as well, because my adrenals were shorting out or whatever on top of everything else. I wasn't allowed to take my meds, remember? It was a nightmarish afternoon. I can legitimately say that I have not been in that much pain before in my life, except maybe in small, short bursts. I was waiting to pass out from the incredibly high pain levels and my utter fatigue (especially after sobbing uncontrollably for a prolonged period of time, and being so weak to begin with when I was brought in-- couldn't walk, could hardly sit up at all).

So… it's been a fun adventure. I feel awful, yes, but not as awful as I would if I had just tried to make it at home. I mean, I did try, and I made it as long as I could, but I just kept worsening instead of stabilizing or improving, and there's only so much a person can take, ya know? I'm so grateful for the intervention of Mom and Rdad on my behalf. I'm honestly and genuinely glad that I was admitted and that I'm being taken care of. This has actually done a fair deal toward improving my totally bleak perception of medical care here in my town, and in the hospital/ER in particular.

I haven't been able to sleep more than 2 or 3 hours since I've been here (or even the day before), and I keep waking myself up with dry heaving when I do manage to fall asleep, but I'm going to maintain a valiant effort to crash the heck out. I'm SO. TIRED. Hah.

Before I go tho, let me take a selfie… LOL. I figured I had to commemorate such a momentous event. Plus my hair looks freaking fantastic, rolling around in the hospital bed this whole time :D

How's my pain? It's over 9,000! LOL
Look! I'm a fall risk! First time for that… means I'm not allowed to stand up on my own.
A whole breakfast tray of… nothing I can eat. I learned how to order whatever "safe" food there was before my tray gets brought up pretty quick, and Drogo has been bringing me safe food from home so I can eat little bits when I'm hungry. Still can't eat much yet, abdominal cramps and nausea too bad.
But they gave me Sprite! Rock on, nurses.
Peace out, homies and fellow Spoonies. May your spoons be plentiful, and take care of yourselves, yeah? I'll stick to doing the same over here.

3 thoughts:

  • Optimistic Existentialist | June 22, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    Cassandra! Wow, you've had to deal with a hell of a lot. I was wondering the other day why I hadn't seen a post from you for a while, but it looks like I missed a post from you last Saturday (I admit to usually not checking Blogger much on weekends). I am so glad you are able to smile in those photos despite the pain. I hope you get to go home soon, and I hope a year from now you can look back on this post and realize how far you've made it from here :)

  • Beate | June 24, 2014 at 5:26 AM

    Oh my gosh, I wish there was anything I could do to help you deal with all this! I'm so sorry to hear you've been through so much lately. And I hope so so much that you'll feel much better very soon. I'm sending a big hug to you and I'm thinking of you!

  • txchronicmom | July 9, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I'm just finally discovering your blog and I can't believe it took my so long. I'm so sorry you're in the hospital, I hope they are able to get everything under control soon. I related to everything you said in your post about the hospital, I've been there.

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