Follow one crying eye on

In the depths

I’ve spent the morning trying to cheer up and see the brighter side, after a seriously poor start to the day. Getting there now perhaps.

Background – I’m trying to kick a drug habit. Looking at it as starkly as that has helped my resolve over the past couple of weeks.  I was actually doing quite well, but seem to have relapsed and am now in a complete mess.

It appears from the latest telephone consultation with my GP, a few weeks ago, that I am in serious danger of having a stroke because of the ridiculous quantity of prescribed painkillers I take for what has for years been treated as chronic migraine. I guess my recent milestone sixtieth birthday has triggered something on the GP’s notes because he just got tough with me.

I’m sure he had my best interests at heart, but my latest consultation included a period in which I was silently weeping (is this an advantage or a disadvantage of not-in-person consultations?) as he made quite clear that I shouldn’t just think about the possibility of dying as a result of a stroke (which perhaps I would see as an acceptable risk, for me personally at least?) but the likely severe disability I might have to live with as a result. I’m afraid this scared the shit out of me and so I suppose it’s had the desired effect from his point of view and I’m making a much greater effort to stop taking the meds as a result.

I have had a repeat prescription for sumatriptan, which I take whenever I have a headache which can be every day, for more years than I can remember. 24 tablets prescribed approximately every four weeks. Apart from one surprised comment from a pharmacist ages ago, I have had this prescription renewed over and over. Occasionally we have explored other options to no avail. I’ve even asked if it was safe for me to keep on taking it, and been reassured. But now, it’s going to kill – or more likely disable – me.

Yes I’m exaggerating, but once I was a bit more rational, I thought this was maybe the kick up the backside I probably needed. After all, I’ve never actually been keen on taking medication of any sort, and I have been persuaded that some of the headaches are likely ‘rebound’ or dependency headaches. So, I set myself to do a detox. The diary was not too full, and I would really try hard this time, taking to my bed if really necessary.

I have in fact managed to avoid taking ANY painkillers for a full eight days in a row. This does not mean that I had no headaches, but none became so completely intolerable as to require medication, and some disappeared quite quickly. Annoyingly, in the middle of all this, I crocked my back (yes, yes, I’m getting really creaky and old now) and forbade myself any painkiller apart from a spot of deep-heat. Maybe in some perverse way this helped – I was having a proper full-on battle. I realised however, that I can deal with non-headache pain rather better than migraine. Up to a point, at least.

This week, I have finally succumbed, albeit briefly, to a cold which Mr J has been nursing for some time. And, despite the fact that my back has miraculously cured itself and I have successfully endured a flu jab for the first time ever, my migraine has returned with a vengeance and I have been unable to resist taking my sumatriptan three days in a row now. This morning I felt worse than ever – I honestly was just asking for someone to shoot me. Not only did I have a horrendous headache, but I have clearly failed in my detox (supposed to be at least 3 weeks tablet-free) and will no doubt shortly be castigated for this by the powers that be. Or ‘just’ have a debilitating stroke as my come-uppance and then forever feel guilty for all my subsequent NHS treatment.

I had been getting too proud of my drug-free progress. How quickly one can forget the truly awful feelings sometimes when on a roll. I like being able to document my life (did you guess? haha) so have created a coloured spreadsheet and was doing so well with the green on those medication-free days. Now it is a sea of red again.

To add to the list of hopelessness, I appear to have done something stupid to my left arm. No idea what – just another random pain to add to the strange pressure point on one finger of my left hand, the residual bad back and departing cold snuffliness. 

Tomorrow I have a ‘fasting’ blood test (which will undoubtedly show nothing whatsoever at all) at 8.30am. How I am going to be able to drag myself to the clinic at that time of day with no medication or food beforehand is a question I am trying (unsuccessfully, clearly) to ignore for now.

In the meantime, I have yet another theatre trip this evening – two separate plays at the Royal Court in Sloane Square. I was in that neck of the woods last night as well, attending a concert at Cadogan Hall and dining/drinking with friends. Does this make me a determined/gutsy optimist who won’t give up the better things in life – or just an idiot?

Of course, I could just write about my theatrical and social exploits. Then everything seems marvellous.

Take a look at my Facebook. I couldn’t be happier! 

Follow one crying eye on