Self Care for PAWS

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Up and down and up and down and around the bend and back again. Battling through PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) is like being on a roller coaster ride, on the mixer, walking around in the funny house and sick with the flu at times. Add to that my PTSD being triggered and it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

To be honest, there are periods of time I don’t really remember much. I have pieced some things together from those that I’ve talked to on the phone or who saw me during those days as well as various texts and emails.  I wasn’t very nice.  I lashed out at those I love the most during the worst of it. Including myself. PAWS can be a serious medical condition. There are times I have felt very disconnected and it’s taking all my ability to maintain some semblance of “normal”.  I’m sure there are a few of my people that would have liked to see me be hospitalized for a few of those days.

While I did have a long morning in the ER after one of the most rough days/nights, (un)fortunately they let me go home. There had been paperwork filled out to put me on a hold, but I know what the hospital means if you are detoxing and/or going through PAWS. It means being stuck inside, put on benzos and who knows what other meds as well as starving because they don’t have any food I can eat. So I pulled myself together and talked with a little intelligence and very nicely and they literally dumped me out in the waiting room. They know what the PAWS crazies are like. They wanted me out of there!

I don’t want it to sound like I take this lightly. I don’t. I am scared out of my sometimes too smart mind. I just can’t see any way through this other than just doing it on my own using medical marijuana. I can’t go to a treatment facility because they will put me on pharmaceuticals and that is what has been making my life a living hell for the last few years. I can’t go to the hospital because that’s all they have to treat me also. I still am taking my anti-depressant and would be happy to consult with a psychiatrist about my PTSD if I could get a referral. I was supposed to have one over 4 months ago, but that’s how it’s been with my PCP, we talk about it and then a year or two later after me reminding her multiple times it finally gets ordered.. Right now I just am doing my best and trusting that those that love me will still be around when I come out the other side. Cuz this ain’t pretty!

 

I’ve been through PAWS before with my gambling addiction. I vaguely remember the jitters and the crying jags and the frustration with having my brain not working right. I remember getting upset easily and feeling a little “out of body” at times when I first started trying to live life without my addiction activity. What is different about this is I didn’t realize that I had any emotional attachment to my medications. Also, when I was detoxing off gambling (yes, you detox off gambling just like alcohol or drugs, it is truly miserable) they were giving me pain medication and anti-anxiety medications.   I was just doing what the doctor ordered. I was taking medications in order to be comfortable living life. Now that I have been off the opiates for nearly 60 days, I don’t crave the pills…but I wish so much for something to make all the bad feelings go away.  I am not feeling comfortable at all.

What am I doing to take care of myself through this you might ask? I admit, I haven’t been that great to myself. One thing is I have absolutely NO appetite and so making food is a challenge. Fortunately my son has been around and so I occasionally feel a motherly calling and will cook for him and then I’ll eat too.

Tonight I was finally able to drive to town to get a few things at the grocery store. I bought some good healthy foods to cook and eat, including a few easy things like soup and cheese and crackers and avocadoes. Things I don’t have to think about to create something to fill the empty spot in my belly. I also found some specialty teas to help me relax and to be positive. Additionally, I am following suit with millions of others around the world and have embraced the idea of coloring for therapy. I bought myself a coloring book and some colored pencils. Combined with a little medicine that should be a great way to be creative and reduce my anxiety at the same time.

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I am really proud of myself for driving to town. Driving has not been a good thing during this particular time in life. I either find myself extremely anxious while driving or I get road rage. These are new things for me. So, I have not drove much at all the last couple weeks. But, I needed groceries and food for the plants and animals too!

The other things that are keeping me grounded are my furbabies and the other wildlife around here and my gardening. I have my dog who is the best. I freaked her out a little the night things got so crazy for me, but she came around in no time after she saw I was home and okay. Then there is my partially feral kitty that was indoors but escaped just about the time everything else took a dive for me. I am slowly encouraging her out of her hiding spot under the deck. I also love keeping the hummingbirds happy by having their feeder full and water nearby for them to drink or play in. They are so beautiful and I love to hear them buzzing around. Then there are the butterflies and the snakes and lizards that catch my eye. They are beautiful and I thank them for letting me get so close to take their photo. Watering the gardens and tending my first few medicine plants helps keep me focused outside myself also.

Many of the things I have growing were started from seeds. I love watching things grow. It gives me hope. Even the flowers that are less than perfect or the cilantro that bolts before I can get any of it…..they all are such a support and source of encouragement to me. They give me some purpose when I am feeling so out of touch with the rest of the world. The living things that rely on me for their care give me so much back. I am so grateful that II have been able to stay here, where I can grow things and be in nature.

It’s the end of the day now. I have much to be grateful for. I know I have a number of people that are praying for me. Thank you. That is another of the challenges with PAWS and the PTSD.  It seems to darken the spirituality part of my life. I trust your prayers will be sufficient, for praying is a challenge for me right now.  I still have hope and I know that comes from something outside myself.

I thank those who have not been scared away but have said “I love you, how can I help?”. I’m grateful for being able to drive myself to town and for a full fridge and pantry. I will do this!!! If there is one thing I know about me, I perservere! I don’t know what it’s all going to look like on the other side, but I choose to view the future as very lovely and peaceful and full of promise!

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Another Day

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The view out back.

I believe the last day I had any opiates was May 10. That means today is day 51. Whew! What a roller-coaster it has been. Physical pain some days, other days tons of energy and low pain, emotional highs and lows, anhedonia, obsessive compulsive behaviors, restless legs, sweating, raging, sleeplessness, tearful, irrational, sensory overload, lonely (this is my own choice to be alone, yet it still is a lonely place).  Yet, here I am, upright, breathing and doing my best!

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Hidey Hazel kitty

Yesterday was a pretty decent day overall.  I started the day opening the blinds in my bathroom.  My veggie garden is my view out the back of my fifth wheel.  Its coming along nicely for what I’ve had to work with.   The best thing was my kitty that had fled the coop a week or so ago is living under the porch now and I got to see her.  I took her food and water.  I also filled the hummingbird feeder, watered the garden, took some photos, got a shower and went out for pizza with my son after we had a little talk.

I finally asked him about last Friday night. That was a really bad night. In attempting to be social and be out, I over-imbibed in alcohol and it was not a good thing. Alcohol while detoxing off narcotics is a potentially lethal mix.  In more calm and rational times having a glass of wine or two is not a big deal for me. What I learned over the last 2 weeks or so is that if you are removing something that has been part of your pain regimen, it is really easy to substitute alcohol. So a glass or two becomes 3 or 4 and then more. I would not make a good alcoholic.  I found that out in just a short couple weeks of doing some “substituting”. I was somewhat aware I was doing that, but I thought I could control it.  I let it get out of hand.  Right now I have to be very very careful of any thing that might be a potential replacement, other than the medical marijuana.

Even tho I’ve been on a taper for over 18 months, my brain knows that those pills are now gone. Those receptors are screaming for something to fill them up so they can relax. That is what causes me so many symptoms. What I am needing is some better guidance on strains of medical marjuana (MMJ) to use.

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My best forever friend

Since I started using MMJ, I’ve only had strains I received as compensation for work and what I received from the person who grew for me last year. I’ve been give a few names and very basic descriptions of what the strain is good for. What I need is some direction and expert knowledge of what strains will help with the anxiety and some of the other symptoms that I have been recently struggling with. I have decided I need to take a trip to one of the local dispensaries. Most the strains I have are good for getting me up and moving. Right now, I need something a little more calming. I’ve visited a couple with a friend once but have not had the resources to spend on what I considered as “extras”, when I have plenty here. What I have come to realize is that I need some specific components and for my health it isn’t an “extra”. This is my medicine now.

I am coming to truly understand that this is a science. I have much to learn. I know from the great success I’ve already had the last 18 months that it can be done. I want this to work and it is working. Had I been more mindful I may have waited to stop that last pill until I didn’t have so much stress going on around me. Yet, I could have made an excuse to keep that pill for quite some time. It was my medicine. Now it isn’t.

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Each day the smile is a bit more

I’m not good at “fake it til you make it”. My brain doesn’t grasp that. What I do have success with is keeping on keeping on. It might not look pretty all the time, but I’m not giving up, even when my head sometimes tells me that sounds like a pretty good idea for everyone’s sake. I have been through so much and I know that there is good on the other side of dark times like this.

My hope for my loved ones is they too remember that no matter what happens, my track record has been good for waking up and making it through the days. And for all of you reading, I wish you the best day possible. If it’s not so great hang on, because tomorrow can be, if you just get through what ever it is you have to get through.  Peace.

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Storms often bring heavy growth afterwards

P.A.W.S.

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If you want to try out a really good time, give going through PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) a try.  After a nearly 20 year opiate use that grew and grew to the all time highest of 60-90mg of oxycodone daily about 2 years ago, I have completely detoxed myself off and have now had NONE since May 10.  Woohooo…..Yipppeeee….isn’t that awesome????

No.  It sucks.  It hurts. I hurt.  I hurt me and I hurt others.  I feel like my pain is the only real thing in my life.  Not physical pain but emotional.  Raw anger unlike any I’ve known in life.  It’s amazing what anger can do for physical pain.  The endorphins and all the chemicals that get released being in a constant state of flight or fight mode really make physical pain so reduced.  To the point that I can hurt myself pretty severely and not even hardly feel it when I get the anger to a heightened point.  That’s not fun.

What has me even more concerned is that I have one more highly addictive drug, Xanax, and I only have about 12 tablets left.  Which means this is going to probably get worse.  I have been on this anxiety medication since the early 1990’s when it was prescribed first for anxiety attacks then, for the last 4 years, it has been what has been given for sleep.  This is the best our health plan in Oregon can do.  Actual sleeping aids with less horrible addictive traits are not allowed on the formulary.

The only thing I have been using over the last 18 months to detox myself off all these toxic drugs the physicians kept giving me was medical marijuana, primarily RSO (Rick Simpson’s Oil).  Unfortunately I ran out of that and am trying to keep up with eating home made canna coconut oil and smoking (which I really would rather not smoke…it hurts my lungs).  But, without income and with it still being a Schedule 1 drug, there is no outside help to keep up with what helps the most.

You may wonder (or  not) what is happening in my brain from a scientific view?  Maybe I can explain in a basic way.   Essentially all the receptors that my brain has been creating for 20 years for the responses from taking a pain pill or two are not getting anything to keep them filled.  They are empty.  And they are FREAKING OUT!!!  From my recent readings on this, it could take months to years for my brain to get better, if it ever will completely.

When I detoxed from gambling, I was more a crumpled mess of pain and emotional lows.  My experiences thus far with PAWS after opiate addiction is much different.  While I do  have sleep interruption and at times physical pain, stomach upset, poor thinking, the worst of it all is the anger.  I am breaking my own heart from disappointment.

“Go to the hospital”, you say.  What will they do there?  What they did for the last 20 years.  Pump me full of meds and in a couple weeks let me out and say “you are healed”.  No thank you.  I will find a way to get OFF the rest of these meds and find what I can utilize to make me be okay without them.  The medical profession does not have my best interest at their forefront.  They have money making.  I won’t make them money if I won’t  subscribe to continuing their pills.

I don’t think all medications are bad.  I still am on an antidepressant and will most likely take it indefinately.  But chronic pain and anxiety drugs that make me feel  this bad when I can’t or don’t have them…no thank you.  I refuse to be reliant on anything someone can give or take at a whim.

I have made promises that I will LIVE through this.  I will.  It might not look pretty, but I’ll still be breathing on the other side.  I just am at a complete loss what the next months to year or longer might look like.  Always a journey, that’s my life.   In the mean time, I think seeing a few sights and allowing myself to only be concerned about me for awhile is going to be the best healing path.  Time to work through a few more bucket list items.