Sunday, October 30, 2011

Getting High

Diana (right, brown sweater) with older sister Melene (left, pushing wheelchair)
at an Multiple Sclerosis Walk event. I love that Melene is pushing her wheelchair in this picture!
I've been thinking about all the prescriptions that have freely been given me over the years when the doctor has said "just in case you need it" even though it's obvious that I'm far from the need. 

Then there are times when I've asked for a certain amount of pain meds to take, as needed, with each injection for my MS medication (four times each month equalling fifty-two pills for one year), yet the prescription comes out at double that... the list can go on. 

But if I lacked some amount of self control or had more addictive behaviors than I already do, I could have totally abused the system in order to essentially get high in a less noticeable way. Case in point, here's a little story.

Once upon a time I couldn't stay awake, alert, or comprehend anything important. I had this fatigue that just took everything out of me. 

Brushing my teeth sometimes drained my energy for several hours. Even my ability to be alert enough to understand relatively simple things was labored. So my doctor prescribed a drug that is actually a type of narcotic. 

This drug is most commonly used as treatment for people suffering from narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness). This helped a great deal for quite some time. 

However, I eventually began to develop a resistance to the medication and rather than following doctors' orders to increase the dosage, I decided to taper off - as I felt that I had become dependent on it in a rather unhealthy way. 

I've had the same reaction to a variety of pain medications; I like how they make me feel and sometimes not feel. But this pill that I was given to help me manage my fatigue...this is pretty powerful stuff and sometimes even used to help people recover from a cocaine or opiate dependence. 

I wanted the higher doses, I craved to have more, and this desire frankly scared me.

Why did I opt to back off the drug?
  • I found that even just thinking about it made me alert with excitement.
  • I recognized that the drug had done its job. It changed my body chemistry to some degree, to get me going again - jump start complete.
Yes, medications have their purpose(s) and can be very helpful; just not always as prescribed. You need to think of yourself as a collaborator with your doctor; puzzling out the best way to help you. 

Your intellect knows when you need something. You also know better when you should stop. It's a matter of listening to your gut, trusting it and then following it.

I had a very interesting time getting off this drug. In efforts to taper off, I'd reduce dose, then take one every other day (as needed), cut the pill in half again and so on. 

I struggled some with fatigue but it was more manageable this time. The fatigue I was experiencing at this point was from a chemical dependence to the drug itself, more than any physical dysfunction. It was at this time I was introduced to energy drinks.

I ended up leaning on energy drinks for support, especially while driving. That worked extremely well, but... at the cost of now yellowing teeth and still in some fashion, a chemical dependence. 

I walked away from this prescribed drug, but walked right into another addiction. On some level I'm still pretty much a junkie (thanks to energy drinks). 

I have found that I have physically needed this drug (i.e., energy drink). I yearned for it, I thought about it, I shook inside I wanted it so bad. 

I found that I was staying alert just thinking about it. Sound familiar? How on earth is this healthy? It's not.

Why did I opt to back off the energy drinks? 
  • I found that even just thinking about it made me alert with excitement.
  • I recognized that the drink had done its job. It aided in walking away from a very potent prescribed drug and kept me functionally alert - jump start complete.
Relying on a chemical for a jolt, be it opiates (even prescribed), caffeine or energy drinks still messes with your inner workings. 

My poor kidneys and pancreas have a taken a brutal assault over the years. I've been off this lethargy medication for over five years now. 

I'm still not completely 100% off the energy drinks, but I'm getting there. In order to do this, I've turned to walking.

The other day I went for a brisk six mile walk and you know I was just as energized from that than I was from being loaded on prescribed meds or after having downed an eight to twelve ounce energy drink. 

I started this walk out with little to no energy whatsoever, which is honestly why I went on the walk - to get my energy back. 

Eventually, I began to feel energized and I ended up doing six miles while keeping a consistent brisk pace. Over time, walking has encouraged running. But there are definitely times when walking is all I can pull out of me.

Why do I opt to stick with walking? 
  • I found that even just thinking about makes me excited; mostly because I'm thrilled that I now have the ability to do it.
  • I have recognized that simply walking has given me energy when I thought I had none. Walking keeps me from getting stiff, which happens easily due to my MS. 
  • Walking keeps me functional, alert, calm and at peace. 
  • Lifelong jump start engaged!
Isn't it kind of cool that physical activity is oftentimes just as effective (if not more so) than a strong medication or an energy drink? 

The physical activity is also generally longer lasting with a lot fewer hazardous side effects and it is indeed a lot cheaper. Just sayin'....

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