Over the last almost five years now, I have spent so much of my time going to doctors. First it was to the follow up appointments after my surgery. (If you are new to the blog, then look at the posts for June, of 2012 to get up to date on what happened) Then it was to gastroenterologists both in Arizona and here in Georgia, trying to get answers to why I was in so much pain, and trying to get my colostomy reversed. I was denied the surgery to reverse the colostomy and repair my abdominal wall. That was devastating to me but with the help of the mental health clinic I was able to cope and get myself ok with it. I also did not ever get an answer to why I was in so much pain months and years after my surgery. I still don’t have an answer to that. But starting last week, I have changed the game plan, and have moved forward to a new phase in the taking care of Fabgrandma.
The first thing that happened was on Monday. Fabgrandpa and I went to the health supply store in Carrollton, Georgia to pick up our BiPAP machines. Our sleep studies back in October and then again in December indicated that we both have sleep apnea. The sleep apnea, along with the opioid pain meds I had been taking, was making me sleep all day. Almost every day. If we had a doctor appoinment to go to, I would almost fall asleep driving home. I really had no idea that I had sleep apnea. I was referred to the sleep study by the cardiologist I went to after my feet and legs swelled up.
I have now been sleeping with the BiPAP machine for a week. Even though I am only sleeping about five hours a night, I feel more refreshed and more like I really slept. Getting used to having the mask on my face is not easy. It dries out my mouth so much that my lips stick to my teeth inside my mouth. But I am doing it, and it is helping me feel better. I bought a bottle of Biotene Spray and that is helping with the dry mouth.
The second thing that happened is that I went to a pain management doctor. I had asked my primary care doctor for a referral over a year ago, but she could not find a pain management doctor who would accept me as a patient. On my last visit to her, I told her that the Percocet she was prescribing for me was no longer working as it used to. I asked if she could write me a prescription for something different. She told me that what she was prescribing for me already was the strongest she was allowed to write a prescription for, and that she knew the day would come when I would sit there asking her this very question. She tried again to refer me to pain management, and the next day, Dr. L’s front office called to schedule an appointment.
Dr. L examined me and went over my records. She started out saying that she normally does not treat people who have abdominal pain, they usually treat people whose pain originates in their back. But after her examination, she did detect some arthritis in my back. I also did a check off sheet for symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and had so many of the symptoms it was insane. So, Dr. L decided to accept me as a patient.
The first thing I had to do was stop taking the opioid pain medication that my primary care doctor prescribed, and to sign an agreement that says I would not ask for opioid pain medications from any other doctor. I also had to sign an agreement that I would submit to random drug testing to insure that I was not taking any opioid, or narcotic, pain medications. I have not taken any of those pain meds since last Tuesday. Instead, I am now taking Gabapentin, which attacks pain in a different way. She also prescribed Meloxicam, a anti-inflammatory medication; and Flexeril, a muscle relaxer. She told me to take the Gabapentin only for four days, to make sure I had no reaction to it. Then, take the Meloxicam for four days, again to check for reaction. And last, add in the Flexeril, at night when I go to bed. So far, so good.
I want to say here that even though I have been in pain, true debilitating pain, for almost 5 years, when I quit taking the Percocet, I seemed to have quit having the pain I was taking it for. That sounds weird, but it is how I feel. I still have pain, but it feels different now. I can tolerate it. I can live with it. I am not sleeping all the time either. So, while I may be a bit grouchy, and somewhat weepy since I stopped taking the Percocet. I will get over that I am sure.
So. We are treating ME. NOT my PAIN. I am getting the sleep I need. I will update as we go, and hope that things continue in a positive manner. What are you doing to improve your health this year?
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