How and Why I Quit Taking PainMeds
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Editor’s Note: On June 9th, the National Pain Report introduced you to Gracie Gean Bagosy-Young, a CRPS patient turned crusader. We had excellent response to her story and asked her to contribute more frequently. Happily, she agreed.
Before I was injured and before I developed CRPS, the only thing I would take is a vitamin. When I injured my left hand while I was kickboxing, I had a surgery and was off the pain medication in 3 days. But after a subsequent surgery on my right hand, when something went wrong, I was on the meds for months.
“ I had a surgery and was off the pain medication in 3 days.”
CRPS and chronic pain are a beast. They come at you and they beat on you constantly. And like everyone else faced with the challenge of chronic pain, I looked for an answer. My first answer – given my aversion to medication – was trying a number of things like gels, custom compounded ketamine creams, exercise, and physical therapy for a year before my doctor insisted upon “breaking the cycle of pain with meds”.
I began taking Gabapentin, Cymbalta, Oxycodone and Sonata. I was on the meds for six months and I never felt like myself. The pain persisted, I was chronically nauseous and vomiting, I was lethargic. I’m 5-foot-4 and weigh 135 pounds.
In six months I was down to 115. One night, on the way to the bathroom, I passed by a mirror and looked at myself. My red hair was matted; I looked gaunt (because I was) and thought to myself, “I look sick”.
At that moment, while still looking in the mirror, I said out loud, “I’m not doing this anymore”. So I quit – right there – cold turkey.
The next morning I called the pharmacist and told them I wanted to get rid of my meds and he suggested pour syrup into the bottles which will disintegrate the medication and then throw them away. I did. And then I got to the business of “getting off the drugs” – all by myself. For four days, I was dizzy, nauseous, vomiting and had bouts of diarrhea. The only good news was that my physical pain hadn’t increased.
“This is stupid and not something you just do on your own; a detox like this must be done with a doctor’s help.”
I decided to call my doctor and told him what I was doing. He was not happy. “This is stupid and not something you just do on your own; a detox like this must be done with a doctor’s help.” I see that now.
It took me 14 days to get through this. I want to state declaratively that it was stupid, arrogant and I would never recommend that anyone do it the way I did.
I didn’t understand physical dependence then – I do now. One other thing, I’m not saying that pain meds are bad – in fact they are good – but they didn’t work for me. If they had helped me, I’d still be using them. This was 4 and half years ago.
The easy conclusion to write is that I became all better magically because I had been able to eliminate my dependency on pain medication. It’s not true.
My chronic pain, my CRPS, my misery persisted. I still had to address it and I’ll share some of that journey, how I became an advocate, things I’ve tried to make me better and how I use social media to connect with people like me in coming blogs.