Tag Archives: pain

A Rolling Stone Gathers No…?

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm.

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

***Disclaimer: This is an absurdly long post. Read at your own risk.***

This post is officially for yesterday. I’ll be posting again this evening for today. For once, however, I actually had a pretty good reason for not writing yesterday. What is that reason, you ask? It is the simple matter of me passing a kidney stone, without any pain killers. Yep, you read that correctly. About 24 hours ago I passed a kidney stone and it was, to say the least, quite uncomfortable.

I knew something was wrong yesterday morning. When I awoke from the couple of hours I was able to sleep, I felt like someone was squeezing my lower abdomen in a vice. The pain got so bad that I began to vomit, and was unable to keep liquids down, rendering the pills I took for the nausea totally useless as twice I tried to take them and twice the just came back up again along with whatever was left of my stomach contents at that point.

But I suspected another bowel obstruction, so fortunately I decided I needed to get things checked out at the hospital. By 1pm I was at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital. I would have gone back to Legacy Meridian Park, where I was seen for the previous obstructions, but when I called, the guy at the ER admitting desk told me that the wait was over four hours long! So since all records are shared between Legacy hospitals, it made sense for me to go to Emmanuel, where the wait was only about an hour long, and where they would have all the records, lab tests, and scans from my previous visits to Meridian Park. Had I gone to Providence (where I would rather have gone, despite the fact that it is further away from my house than either of the Legacy hospitals), they would have had to start from scratch and re-do all the x-rays, CT scans, blood, urine and stool tests that were done originally at Meridian Park. And of course my experience is that sometimes two different doctors will read the same scans or the result of a blood test in two completely different ways.

So it made sense for me to go to Emmanuel rather than Providence.

I made sure I was able to drive; I had nothing left in my stomach, so vomiting wouldn’t be a problem. I was in pain, yes, but although it wasn’t getting any better, it also wasn’t getting worse. I was exhausted, yes, but I certainly was in no danger of falling asleep – there was far too much going on inside my body for me to be able to rest.

Once there, the wait seemed interminable. All I wanted was to lie down – the only position that seemed even remotely comfortable was lying on my left side with my knees curled nearly up to my chest. And there was no place in the ER waiting room for me to lie down like that. Instead I was forced to sit in a chair, hunched over so that my back wasn’t pressed against the chair. Not very comfortable in and of itself, and less comfortable for someone who has (albeit unknowingly) passed a kidney stone just an hour or two earlier.

Fortunately, the wait wasn’t much longer than an hour. By 2:30pm I was back in a room, lying on my side. The nurse placed an IV and drew blood for labs. Finally the doctor came in. He was a kind, partially balding man, probably in his mid-forties. His name was Dr. Gillette, which of course made me wonder if he was possibly related to either the family whose manual razors I have often used for shaving, or to my sister’s junior high basketball coach.

He asked me the obligatory questions, listened intently, then did his standard physical exam. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except that I nearly screamed and simultaneously jumped off the gurney when he pressed on my lower abdomen. I told him that it felt sort of similar to the way I’d felt with the bowel obstruction, but not exactly the same. And then, he asked me to lean forward and pressed on my lower back. I felt nothing when he pressed on the left side, but when he pressed on the right, I nearly vomited it was so painful.

He ordered x-rays to see if the obstruction had reoccurred, and ordered a urine test. Fortunately, I had just enough liquid in my body to be able to pee right away. He also ordered a bunch of IV fluids and some nausea medication through the IV as well. We were very clear that any sort of narcotic pain relievers were not an option.

The x-rays came back completely normal. But when he came back he told me that the urine had a lot of blood in it, which usually indicates either an infection somewhere in the urinary tract, bladder, or kidneys, or else a kidney stone, which he thought most likely. He ordered a CT scan to confirm.

Laying on my back in the CT was excruciating. But one of the great things about CT’s is that they take less than ten minutes. Before long I was back in my room, waiting. I didn’t have long to wait, however, because the doctor came back in to tell me that I had definitively passed a stone sometime in the past 12 hours. The CT scan I had taken at Meridian Park just days earlier had shown two medium sized stones in the right kidney. The scan he had just take showed only one. In addition, the scan showed significant inflammation throughout the urinary tract as well, which solidly proved his suspicion that the stone no longer appearing in the kidney had decided to take a painful tour of my ureter before exiting my body.

It was a bit of a relief, really, knowing that the stone had passed and therefore the worst was over, however, it didn’t change the fact that I was still in a substantial amount of pain. And it was at this point that the line became a bit hazy, for the doctor, if not for me. It was at this point, having satisfied himself that I was really in pain and not just there to try and scam drugs, he asked me if I wanted him to treat the pain or not. I’m not sure why I had the self-control to turn him down at that point, but I did.

I asked him if there was anything else, non-narcotic, that he could use to treat the pain. He said, actually, there was. Unfortunately, the particular drug he wanted to use was in my medical records in the list of drugs to which I am allergic. But it had been listed as an allergy since 2009 when the doctors at Serenity Lane (the first inpatient alcohol and drug treatment center I attended) in Eugene gave me an intramuscular injection of it, which caused an enormous rash, made me short of breath, as well as causing lightheadedness, dizziness, and a whopper of a migraine.

When faced with those two choices, however, I decided that perhaps taking a chance might be a good idea in this situation. I told the doctor that although the medication (a powerful anti-inflammatory called Toradol, also known as Ketorolac) was listed as an allergy, I would rather chance an allergic reaction than either have zero relief from the pain or take narcotics, which, although they may have helped in the short run, will always make me miserable later. He agreed, and ordered the Toradol, but made sure the nurse stayed with me for 10 minutes or so after she administered the medication, to make sure I didn’t have a severe reaction to it.

Fortunately, I had no negative reaction at all this time. It just goes to show you how complex our bodies are, that once I had a major issue with a medication, and several years later I had no problems with it at all. My suspicion is that the batch of medication given to me back at Serenity Lane was either old, or possibly just bad. Plus, the route of administration was different. An intramuscular (or IM) injection involves the medication being injected into muscle (usually shoulder, buttocks or thigh) and absorbing into the bloodstream from that tissue. It takes longer to be effective, and can sometimes cause a range of side effects that are unassociated with intravenous (or IV) injection. So perhaps that was the major difference. Or perhaps my body’s tolerance to the drug had just changed over the last four years. Who knows, really? The important thing is that the medication worked. I finally felt some relief, and was able to drive myself home, with the doctors instructions being to make sure I kept myself hydrated (as dehydration is the main cause of kidney stones) and to rest and take ibuprofen for the pain.

I could tell that the doctor was surprised that I didn’t accept his offer of opiate pain medication and that I didn’t ask for any to take home with me. Now, 24 hours later, I’m quite glad that I declined. If I had not, I surely would have run out of whatever medication he gave me (if I have access to a bottle of opiate medication, it is typically gone as quickly as I am capable of ingesting it) and would most likely be facing several days of misery. For most people, taking narcotics even round the clock for a day or two would not produce withdrawal effects. But for someone whose brain is still out of whack from years of opiate addiction, it can only take a day (for some people even just a few doses) and the withdrawal symptoms kick in.

Instead, although I feel sore, the pain is easing, and I don’t have to fight through three days of nausea, muscle aches and cramps, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Right now, I’m just sore and tired – I didn’t sleep very well last night, because of the pain. But that is altogether preferable than the alternative.

I apologize to anyone who has kept reading this far. I know this post is immensely long compared to my usual. But it was a story I needed to tell. Not for bragging rights, but to remind myself that yes, I can make it through pain without having to take narcotics, and that I am capable or refusing them, even when they are offered by a sincerely compassionate doctor.

It is the reality that comes with being an addict – sometimes you need to chalk up the wins to remind yourself that you may be powerless over your drug of choice once you have made the decision to put that drug into your system, but that you have the power to choose not to use that drug in the first place.

Thank you all for reading, it is days like today where I am reminded how powerful it is to share your experience with others, even you may not know the majority of those with whom you share.

Peace to you,

-Nathan

Waking Up

Today I woke up.

Today, I woke up and wondered, how the hell did I get from where I was a month ago to the place I am now?

Sure, I can analyze things to death, but it comes down to one simple thing: I have continued to go through the motions to be well without the real intention of being well.

I think at some point during the several successive hospital trips over the last month and a half I started to resign myself to living a life of dissatisfaction, illness, and unhappiness. Sure, I could tell others and tell myself that I was conquering my fears by entering a hospital in pain and leaving without drugs. But it wasn’t true. All I’ve been feeling is more fear.

The fear that this might become my life again. That the wholeness and lightness I have felt since June was just a lie, a blip on the radar of my life. Fear that I was unable to live a whole and focused life as an adult, on my own.

And unfortunately, when I’m afraid, I tend to isolate. I pull back from my friends. I tell my family what I think they want to hear. I stop talking to all of you. And most of all, I lie to myself, and tell myself I’m making it work, and that I will figure it out.

The truth? I don’t know how to figure it out on my own. I should know that by now, but apparently I don’t.

I’m sitting here, 2 hours after I intended to go to bed, writing this because I know I need to write it.

The last week has been hell for me. I’ve had a toothache that feels like it was created by the devil himself injecting death into my lower rear molar. In truth, it is just the decaying nerve inside my tooth sending out constant pain signals that make it so hard for me to focus that it has taken me almost half an hour to write 300 words, and I haven’t gotten hardly any work done for my job all week long.

The only times I have felt AT ALL sane since last Tuesday were when I was with people, either my parents, or on the phone, or just doing something to get my mind off it. I even went to my Karate class just to get myself out of bed and off the couch and because I figured the adrenaline and endorphins from the exercise along with the social aspect would help. And it did. But laying in bed a couple hours later, I just wanted to curl up and pass out. Instead, I was up all night, unable to get my mind off the pain.

For me, that is the ultimate trigger. I get so wrapped up in my pain that I can’t see further ahead than the next few hours. My brain can honestly get me to believe that I won’t be to handle it if I have to go another day, another hour, another minute with the pain.

So I guess I’m writing this to remind myself of two things:

1. I can survive pain. It’s been almost a week of constant pain and minimal sleep and I am not dead. I’m also still somewhat sane.

2. When I’m struggling, I MUST reach out. I need to share with others, be with others, do something to get myself out of my own head. It is really, really tough sometimes. Sometimes I can hardly bear it. Sometimes I try to reach out and end up just being a real ass to those I love. But I have to try. Because me, locked inside my head and in pain is a recipe for crazy.

I know it’s been a while since I have posted. But I’m done with apologies. When I began this blog, I needed to post every day. I may still need or want that. But I don’t know. Part of what I am doing right now is trying to find a new framework to fit all the new things I am joyfully accepting into my life without destroying the routine that got me here.

And my blog may look a little different. My posting schedule might not be the same. But with the help of my friends, family, and all of you, I will create a new picture, new goals, and continue to walk confidently into my future.

Peace to you and yours,

-Nathan

Takin’ Care of Business

English: Emergency room after the treatement o...

English: Emergency room Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish I could predict things before they happen. Well, perhaps not. But it would sure be nice to know in advance when I’m going to get sick. I know that when I listen to my body I can notice those signs that precede a major illness, but some of the smaller, more complicated problems that can be caused by my CF are harder for me to predict, and I can sometimes confuse them with normal CF symptoms I feel every day.

Anyway, I started this entry last night, so I’ll be writing you another for today later on.

But here’s the crux of yesterday for me: I had some pretty serious pain in my flank and in my lower abdomen again and when I called my doctor he was concerned and once again directed me to go to an ER asap. So I did, not having a clue what they were going to be able to do.

It’s tough for me when I am in the hospital and I am experiencing real pain to not give in when offered narcotics and if they aren’t offered, it can sometimes be really hard for me to not ask for them. Despite the fact that I know where that leads, part of my brain always tries to rationalize it: “Hey, it’s ok,” it says, “you’re sick, in the hospital, the doctors are monitoring all your medications, they know your history, they won’t give you anything too strong and they won’t send you home with anything so it’s not like you’ll have to go through withdrawal again, you’ll just be more comfortable here, right now, in the hospital, and then they’ll figure out the problem, treat it, and you can go home and the pain will be less and you can handle it.”

But all that boils down to is that the part of my brain that still wants to numb out the rest of the world wants to take drugs now, for immediate relief, and not worry about potential consequences in the future, and in fact, not even think about consequences as a possibility. My logical brain knows that consequences are inevitable for me if I even take one dose, even if it is supervised and in the hospital. And yeah, there are exceptions. If I got into a car wreck or broke my arm or had any other obvious, serious, pain causing injury that can be objectively observed, then yeah, they can give me narcotics. I’d probably need to stay an extra week in the hospital so they could supervise me tapering off of the drugs, but obviously if I have a real injury or illness that they know causes pain, the rules change. But barring that, I need to always remember that I can handle pain. I just have to commit to not letting myself go down that path again despite how much something might hurt.

It is tough though, because I feel sometimes that when I get sick I might as well have a couple doses of pain medication while in the hospital. Because it won’t be long enough to cause dependence, it would be supervised by medical professionals, and it would make being in the hospital so much easier.

But on the flip-side, even a dose or two of those medicines get my head spinning, and I always want more. Even if I tell myself and tell the doctor I only want one dose, I inevitably ask for more, and inevitably try and convince the doctor to give me something to go home with.

So I know that I really can’t do that. I made that mistake back in August, allowing myself a single dose while in the hospital, and it sure did make me want more.

Here’s where I tie in the title: my health is just one more aspect of my life where I just need to take care of business. Sometimes that means going to the ER. Sometimes it means just staying home and resting instead of going out. Sometimes it means doing an extra nebulizer treatment during the day, or changing my exercise routine based on what my body is telling me.

But the point is, I have to take care of business when it comes to my health. It really is not negotiable. There have been a couple days where I’ve let things slide, and there have been a couple days when I really didn’t feel well but I forced myself to do things anyway, which is fine, but there’s a fine line between working through something difficult and not taking care of myself.

I just have to keep in mind that I will suffer the consequences should I be lax on my meds or forget to take my digestive enzymes, or just stay up too late and get up too early. I am coming to learn that almost everything I do has an effect on my body, and it is all I can do to make sense of those many influences (both major, obvious ones and smaller, less noticeable ones) and try to respond accordingly.

What my body tells me right now is that I probably need to eat and take a quick nap before finishing my work.

I can tell my body and my brain are tired, and that is usually the perfect time for me to take a break.

Thanks for reading,

Peace to you,

-Nathan

Huge Mistake, Consequences, New Chapter

Sorry for the loss of two nights of posts. I would apologize harder, but I ended up in the ICU so…I think I had it worse than you guys for a bit.

This is one of the situations where I said, while sitting in the ER, to my aunt as she held me hand: “the line is starting to blur.”

You see, I was scared at that moment. Yes, I was in pain, but I know by this time that to a certain extent I can deal with that. What it appears bothers me the most is the straight-up fear that I will end up in a situation (surgery, painful procedure, or just intractable pain with an understandable and traceable cause) where the only option for relief from pain will be the drugs I MUST not use.

I can’t tell you how many times I had to say that to how many different doctors on Friday night in the Meridian Park ER. And they have all my charts. They have all the red flags that say, “this guy is a drug seeker. He will still the prescription pad from under your arm if you look away for a second….don’t trust a word he says that you can’t confirm yourself” etc.

Yet they still took one look at me sitting in the discomfort I was in (my aunt Kate reminded me that there was no way what I was going through could possibly equal the discomfort she was in for her 26 hour long first labor during which she used NO form of medicinal pain relief) and told me the choice was up to me! Fortunately with my aunt sitting there in front of me, I said no. I said no, no.

Then another doctor came in and said he was admitting me to the ICU where they would do a bronchoscopy (essentially stick a tube down into your upper airways to try and find where the bleeding had come from) under conscious sedation. He explained that the typical combination used to sedate patients during this procedure was versed (midazolam) and fentanyl (a powerful opiod). So with my dad sitting beside me I said, no fentanyl. Just the Versed – which, by the way, really hardly had any effect on me. They kept giving me more during the procedure and it is supposed to make it so you aren’t really conscious and that you actually have no memory of what happened. However my memory of the procedure is clear as a bell and I could walk you through it if I wanted… I probably would have kept talking except that at one point the doctor told me he was moving the scope down through my vocal chords so that if I tried to talk I could damage them. So I shut up.

The point I was trying to make? Every single doctor who entered my room on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, offered me some form of narcotic in order to make me more comfortable.

Scratch all that. No matter how good the story, no matter how great the rationale, the real point of this post is to tell you all that I relapsed early Saturday morning in the hospital. Sure, I had a string of doctors offer me drugs. But I had up until that point rejected them. Part of me knew I could handle it. And part of me had decided that I couldn’t. I chose to take narcotic pain medications even when I knew that would completely sabotage my wellness quest.

I wish I didn’t have to say it. My dad actually told me that he wouldn’t tell anyone about it, that we could treat it as a mistake and an isolated incident. But I didn’t feel that it was right to hold him to a lie or to lie myself. Not to my family, and not to all of you.

Here is what I am truthfully struggling with: what was it that made me decided that I couldn’t handle what I was going through (painful or not) without drugs? And furthermore, how can I prevent that part of me from taking control in the future?

This is going to be a long, hard road.

Because, you see, me taking those drugs, even in a hospital setting, has violated the contract I signed with my aunt and uncle. That means that once I finish this blog entry, once I finish doing the nebulizer treatment I am currently doing, I lose all their support and my parent’s as well.

I don’t know where I am going to sleep tonight.

I doubt I will have internet access, so I figured I better post this fast.

Thank you to everyone who is reading this and helping me get honest. I hate it, but the truth is that no matter what was going on, I could have gotten through it without taking painkillers. I could have done it, but I made the decision to go back on a commitment I had made.

So what if the “line was blurred” like I said before. So what that I was in some pain. So what that the doctors told me it would be ok, that it was ok for me to take these drugs now. So what so what so damn what?

Regardless of the circumstances I know that I could have dealt with that situation without opiates, and if that is the case then I have taken a serious step back in my wellness quest, and I don’t know where things will lead from here.

But no matter what, it isn’t over. This is not me giving up, this is not me “signing off”. This is me opening a new chapter where I examine what it inside me that allows me to make this type of self-destructive choice.

Thank you for listening,

-Nathan

Quitters NEVER Win

I had some pretty frustrating anxiety yesterday. I know I posted a bit on Facebook so some of my might already be familiar. Here’s the situation:

I had been feeling that knot in my stomach since the minute I woke up. It is that sense that tells you that something is wrong, very wrong. Even when you can’t figure out for the life of you what it is, you know there is something you forgot to do, or did wrong, whatever.

So I ran through my new drill of coping skills. I had a headache as well, so I put an ice pack on my head. I worked out. I showered, I meditated. I talked to a friend. And then went through my phone book and called just about everyone, just to try and see if someone was available to help me get the hell out of my house.

I ate, I drank tea and extra water. Then (because I forgot it was Saturday for a bit) I started calling medical providers so I could start to work on establishing my next level of care and make sure my current docs know exactly what is going on for me.

Anyway, I pretty much went through my repertoire.

And yes, if you’re wondering, I do have meds for anxiety. I have a prescription for up to 2mg of Klonopin 3 times a day. But I clearly don’t need anywhere near that much – the only reason I’d need that high of a dose would be if I was having serious muscle spasms approaching seizure level or if I was hyperventilating so bad that my O2 saturation was dropping into the 80% range.

And none of those “crises” are likely to happen at this point.

I worked out a new system with my Aunt and Uncle because they have gotten sick of distributing meds to me and I’ve gotten sick of having to ask for them every time I need them. And I think I’m reaching the point where I can self-manage at least a bit.

So my aunt has just been putting three of my pills in a little container on the counter in the morning. That’s half my prescribed dose, but it is usually all I need. Personally if I think I need more than that then there is probably something else going on that I need to address.

Anyway, back to yesterday. I went through all the coping mechanisms I could think of before finally taking one of my pills. And I am convinced now more than ever that medication has its best effect when you do other things to your system simultaneously. So all the other relaxing things I did, all the mental/emotional work I did, reaching out to friends and family – the medication worked better AFTER I did all those things. I used to think that medication was a replacement for all that.

Like if I took a pill then I wouldn’t have to worry about any other coping skills. After all, why meditate when you can just ingest a substance that relaxes your body and calms your mind?

Why indeed?

My answer? Because they have a complimentary effect on one another. And in truth, medication doesn’t work very well at all unless you are really supporting the health of your entire being.

Over the past few days I’ve been developing a theory. My theory is that when medication is used (even in absolutely necessary situations) and a patient is not given the support and taught techniques to promote their spiritual, mental, and emotional well being in addition to their physical selves, that is when addictions or dependence is prone to develop.

Because giving someone a pill and telling them, “here, this will fix it” is as good as saying, “you don’t have to do anything to be healthy but take this pill”. When in fact all doctors worth their MD’s will tell you that meds don’t work well without what is called adjutant therapy. Pain won’t go away after an injury just by taking pain killers. You need physical therapy. My lungs won’t clear themselves out just because I inhale my nebulized medications; I have to do my chest physiotherapy.

More importantly, none of this stuff works without some sort of connection to the rest of the world. Spiritual, social, whatever it is for you, I don’t care. All I know is that when I didn’t have people around me and I didn’t believe there was anything out there bigger than myself, I felt isolated, alone, and helpless.

Now that I know that there is an energy that runs through me that touches the whole universe and that I can tap into that energy, I feel so much more alive, so much more able to move through pain and adversity.

I’m not cured. I’m still recovering. Who knows how long it will take? But I have to commitment now. All I need is the time.

Quitters Never Win – Truth

Peace to you,

-Nathan

Mind-Body Separation

A visual Representation of my Path to Recovery

Yeah, my posting has been really spotty the last few days. And that really isn’t okay with me. My blog is really designed as a way for me to keep myself accountable and to help me analyze both my progress and my problems.

So when I don’t write, I deprive myself of my own insight and I deprive myself of your insight. I have found a lot to sustain me within the comments and suggestions I have received from all of you. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you guys are continuing to stick with me through this difficult time.

For a while it sure seemed like things were just going to continue to be peachy right?

Everything was going smoothly. I was on track. I was exercising every day. My lung function was increasing. My body was feeling better and better (and looking better too, if you’ll excuse a bit of vanity).

And then I hit the end my subutex taper and it seemed like I was about to lose EVERYTHING I had worked for. I know now that it was just my mind telling me that, because there was a part of me that honestly wanted to lose everything because then people wouldn’t have any expectations of me anymore and it would be okay for me to self-destruct and use drugs. To give in.

But the universe has given me a support system for which I am supremely grateful. My parents Rob and Karen, my sister Rachael, my future brother-in-law Luke, my aunt Kate and uncle Richard, my aunt Laura, my closest friends Noah, Cheyne, and Dusty, and even some new friends I have met who also have CF and can relate to some of my struggles.

And because of that support system I have found the strength inside me to keep going even when part of me wants to just say “fuck it”.

But I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few nights about what it really is inside of me that makes me turn to a “quick fix”, makes me want to just take a pill instead of try one of the many other options open to me. You see, for a long time I really thought it was because I couldn’t handle pain – whether physical, mental or emotional. I thought I was so weak that anything would send me running for relief.

I’m sorry Mom, but I have to tell this story because it so clearly illustrates where I’ve been and what destructive part of me.

When my Mom first found out I had been using Heroin, she walked into my room, sat down across from me, and completely straight faced, told me that she didn’t expect me to make it and that really, it was no skin off her back since I had stolen from her, cheated her, lied to her and manipulated her constantly for over a year. She told me that she sure hoped that the rehab program I was planning on attending would work, but that in truth she had no hope for me. She told me that in her mind, she’d already lost her son.

And you know what I did? I didn’t shed a tear. I said, “well, I guess an apology isn’t going to cut it then”. I think if she hadn’t been as in control of herself as she was she would have slapped my face. Instead she said, “no, nothing you can say will make this better”. And she walked out of the room.

But here is the clincher. The second she’d left, I locked myself in the bathroom, fixed, and shot up. Because I didn’t know of any other way to relieve the pain of what I had just gone through.

Despite what people say, addicts still feel. They feel deeply. At least, I did. And hearing my mom tell me that she really had no hope for my recovery cut me to the core. But I was so cut off from those emotions after artificially suppressing them with drugs for so long that the only option I felt that I had was to get high and just escape.

That’s a hard story for me to tell, and it sure isn’t the worst of what I’ve been through with my family and friends during the last 5 years. If people could be canonized for dealing with addicts then most of my family and friends deserve that, if not a sainthood. They have continued to love me and stick with me when I have given up on myself.

So that takes me back to my original topic. What is it inside me that has been making me run for quick, easy relief or more appropriately, escape – whenever I feel any sort of emotional, mental, or physical pain?

Am I really weak? Cause at this point in my life I don’t think so. I’ve done some pretty amazing things in my life. And I continue to notice my strength increasing, but it seems to really be limited to the physical realm. So yeah, I can tolerate a much higher level of physical pain than I used to be able to. I can sit with a terrible cough-induced headache and do nothing but put an ice pack on my head or maybe take a couple Excedrin. In the past these kinds of headaches sent me running for opiates.

I can get on the treadmill, do my Tai Chi, contort my body into the Lotus Position (although that has gotten easier and easier as my flexibility increases) and deal with the pain and even to a certain extent enjoy it.

Buuut…the mental/emotional pain is different. I spoke with my aunt this morning as she was slicing apples and I was making tea. We talked about how there is this part of my mind that just seems to want something, anything to relieve those symptoms.

On the one hand, I know that for a few days still the clonazepam I am taking won’t form a dependence for me and that it is helping me continue to pursue my goal of optimal wellness. But soon it will run out and I need to be ready, not just to find new ways to mitigate symptoms but to find new ways to think about my body, to realize that most of my symptoms are CREATED by my mind.

Many people have written many books about the “mind-body connection”. And I understand that pretty well I think. My issue at the moment is the opposite: I want to know about “mind-body separation”.

My aunt was telling me that part of what I need to do is start to actually sit in my body and feel what it feels and ignore what my brain wants to tell me about how I am feeling.

So, my goal today is not just to endure pain, but to try and separate the pain my mind wants to create for me from the actual pain inside my body. To separate them and to try to respond to them in a way that truly creates harmony inside my whole being.

Thanks for reading guys and for keeping up with this process with me. It’s been a tough week, but I think I am through the absolute worst of it now and I believe it is now a matter of staying the course and finding some new ways to connect with my body and new ways to quiet my mind.

Peace to you all, and I hope you hear my gratitude flooding out into the universe toward you all today.

-Nathan

By the way, I added the photo at the beginning because it really symbolized form the the path I am taking. It is full of snags, twists and turns. It is difficult, but it is leading somewherebetter than being stuck in this forest.

 

Exposing “Mr Q”

Well last night my mother and I slept at my Aunt Laura’s. We were a bit worried that we might be imposing because Laura leaves on a trip tomorrow, but she was happy to have us here. We brought over some Thai Food, sat and chatted, watched some of the end of the Olympics, and played a few rounds of Boggle, which looks suspiciously like “Scramble with Friends”.

I had an okay day thanks to the support of my family and my commitment to continue moving forward. But it also helped to have some meds to make my symptoms a little more bearable.

What I am contemplating now is this:

Throughout this process I have been able to draw upon an inner strength that I didn’t even really know existed. Imagine hauling up water out of a previously dry well, and you get some sense of what it has felt like to dredge deep within my soul and pull out resistance and strength I didn’t know I had.

Always, in the past, every single time, when things got tough and the symptoms got worse, I let the addict part of my brain run the show. I delivered myself into his hands begging “please, oh please get us out of this pain!”

This time, however, due to the help of my family and the doctor I saw in the Emmanuel ER, I was able to say, “no”, you can not control me, you can’t make me go back on drugs just because that will temporarily relieve the pain. It is hard, denying myself something I feel I need, that sometimes I even feel like I deserve. The worst part is when your brain decides to get all clever and come up with a really pretty and logical sounding rational for why getting immediate relief from pain while sabatoging progress is not just okay, but is the right thing to do.

All along, my brain has been feeding me lines like

“you shouldn’t be doing this, you did the taper wrong, the withdrawals are worse than they should be, you won’t be able to deal with them, if you want to stay on track, you need to get back on the subutex, cause after all, it was what made your progress possible, not you. No, not you, never you. You could NEVER have done all this stuff without subutex. So obviously you should get back on it so that you can keep moving forward…right? So just call your doctor, tell him you made a mistake, he will work it out with you, you know he will. And your friends and family might not approve but if the understood how much easier this will be for all of them…..

Uh…Wow. My uncle named that voice inside me “Mr Q”. Because it is always questioning, always looking for a loophole, or a way out. Clever as clever can be, but without a shred of dignity or honesty. Mr Q will accept any means to his ends, even if it means hurting those he loves or endangering himself.

Mostly though, when Mr Q talks, what comes out are lies. He is the part of me that lies to myself, that I use to manipulate others…he is the kingpin of all the addictive voices in my head.

And the reality is not that I will ever truly try to be rid  of Mr Q, per se. More that I will be able to hear him, listen, and just observe his voice without getting sucked into it and embodying it. Q’s energy is fearful, distrusting, scheming, conniving, manipulating, lying, hating, angry, and in pain. He curls up in a corner so that no one will see him, and when someone does happen to notice him, he becomes standoffish: “whatchu lookin at? Mind yer own damn business” he snarls. Mr Q doesn’t care about anyone or anything except protecting himself and keeping himself pain free.

So my goal for the next five days: observe my Mr Q, but keep him in check, and mostly, to embody him as little as possible. He must remain in the background for me to do my work.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading this and following my struggle through the past few days. Things are hopefully on the upswing now, and I look forward to posting more tomorrow,

 

Goodnight, and Peace to you,

-Nathan

 

Don’t worry, more about “Mr Q” in the next few posts