I have some exciting news to share! Today was my first day without any pharmaceuticals whatsoever! Not even over-the-counter drugs!
It was kind of an accident… but I decided to go with it. You see, I’ve been titrating off of all my medications for several months now. I got off of my sleeping meds at least five or six weeks ago and I’ve been off of my allergy meds and antibiotics for even longer.
Getting off of my pain medication was the last step. It made sense that the chronic pain would take longer to resolve than the other issues since it’s been one of my most debilitating symptoms. While I found a medication that could make me sleep, I never found a medication that could fully take away the pain. Not to mention, I was taking more pain medication than I was any other kind of medication.
Thankfully, mold avoidance has lowered my pain levels a lot and I started reducing my painkillers a few months ago. I just took it slowly, listening to my body as I went. I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms at all.
It was very interesting but I really felt like my body was telling me when it was ready to go down again because I would just forget to take one of the doses and my pain wouldn’t spike until the evening when I was supposed to take the following dose.
Normally, if I missed a dose I would feel it within an hour or two. Besides, I didn’t miss doses very frequently because the pain was a constant reminder. So I definitely noticed the shift when my body started asking for less.
I was on 6 pills a day and started by cutting one pill out. Then 3-7 days later (depending on how I was feeling) I cut another pill out. For the next two or three cuts, I went down by only half a pill and then the next two I went down by only a quarter pill.
The reason for this is that if you reduce a medication in identical increments you are cutting a greater percentage of the total dose each time. Does that make sense? So, even though it’s the same amount, it’s a much bigger adjustment that your body needs to make each time. You’re much less likely to experience unpleasant side effects if you reduce it in smaller and smaller increments and give your body as many days as it needs to adjust each time you lower the dose.
I realize these details are quite boring for at least half of my readers but I decided to share them anyway in case they’d be helpful to the chronic illness sufferers in my audience.
I’ve come off of countless medications over the last five years using different approaches and the method I just described is by far the easiest and most effective way that I’ve found to do it. I’ve never experienced any significant withdrawal symptoms using it.
So, back to the story…
Yesterday, I cut a quarter pill out and was down to only one quarter pill a day. My plan was to continue with one quarter pill a day for at least three days before stopping the medication completely.
This morning, however, I completely forgot to take the medication. By the time I remembered, we were in town grocery shopping and Ramona’s crate was blocking the drawer that it was in. I didn’t feel like moving her crate out of the van to get it so I figured I’d take it after we got back to the ranch.
When we got to the ranch though, I wasn’t feeling any extra pain. So I decided to just see what happened if I didn’t take it at all. I was fine!
Does this mean I’m finally pain free? Not really, no. It just means that my pain is bearable enough that it no longer warrants the use of pharmaceutical drugs. I’m functional and even though it wears at me slowly, the pain stays in background most of the time. I’m still longing for the day when I’ll be completely pain free but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate today! Getting off of all my meds is a huge milestone!
To be honest, it was a milestone I wasn’t sure would ever come. For years the pain seemed like it would never let up. It was like my body was eating me alive. I hate to even think of it. Which is why I’m not comparing the past to the present like I did with some of my other recovery milestones. I didn’t know that kind of physical agony was even possible and I don’t feel like anything I could write would do it justice. It’s the stuff suicides are made of.
And so, my gratitude for getting to where I am today cannot be overstated. If you want to join me in celebrating this milestone, I would encourage you to go and write a kind note to someone who is still in the throes of chronic pain. You don’t need to try to fix anything, just saying that you’re sorry and that you care would be more meaningful than you know.
By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.