Medications June 17, 2016


I don’t like medications.
My aversion started over twenty years ago, and has now resurfaced in a very overwhelming way.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was glad to find a gay doctor. I could trust him, I thought. And I actually got to see him quite frequently because, frequently, I developed sore throats. Bad ones, complete with fevers and a feeling like I had just snacked on a bowl of broken glass. So, every month or two, I’d haul my ass out of bed, and go see the doctor, who would prescribe penicillin. I remember asking if getting my tonsils out would help, but the doc told me no, these days they only did tonsillectomies as a very last resort. I always got better after taking the penicillin, so I trusted his judgement.

After about 2 years of this, on another bout of penicillin, I woke up one Saturday to find myself covered in hives. I went to a clinic, where a panicky assistant repeatedly asked if I could still breath okay. They told me to stop taking the penicillin immediately and to never take it again. I had developed an allergy, and the next time it could kill me. So, back to my regular doctor, giving him the news about the penicillin, I asked about a tonsillectomy. The doc said we only do that when someone is having chronic sore throats, as in 4-5 times a year. “Look at my file,” I said. “I’m sure I’m getting them more often then that.” The doctor flipped through the file, and uttered, Oh… OH! I don’t know the exact number but it was well over 5 times a year. I felt betrayed.

I had my tonsils out and I’ve never had a problem with sore throats again. But at the cost of a penicillin allergy and a general mistrust of prescribed medications.

Twenty some odd years later, dealing with chronic pain, reduced mobility, and a 50/50 chance of  acquiring an untreatable cancer, I’m again being told to take medications. I’m having  both physical and emotional problems with them. Here is the list.

  • Hydromorphone makes me zoned out and leaves me with a weird brain/nervous system hang over the next day.
  • The longer acting Hydromorph Cotin makes me spacey, tired and impotent. Very impotent: no desire and no physical ability to see things through to the end. I weaned myself off of that as quickly as I could after the shoulder replacement.
  • Both Durel and Lyrica make me groggy and enhance what is already too many low energy days, so no thanks.
  • Naproxen is an antiinfamitory and worked great until I had a colonoscopy and they found ulcers in my innards.
  • Gabapentin had me staring at my car, my boat, my nephew. Is that my car? My boat? Are you Tyler? Yes, you are. You are, right?

Just over a month ago, I started a very gradual re-attempt at Gabapentin for nerve pain. It’s been a tough week. Rather than getting some relief, I am getting even more nerve pain. What the fuck! What was an occasional hot needle being poked into my shoulder is now a much more intense hot wire shifting inside my flesh. It’s now in both my shoulder and on the outside of my arm near my elbow. And rather than a few times a day, it’s now a few times an hour. If I don’t use my right arm, I’m okay. But while using it, out of the blue, I get a visit from an angry nerve.

Faced with this increased pain, I was looking forward to ramping up the dosage, but this morning my doctor told me the med could actually be causing this problem. So “we” are going to stay at the current dose for a couple weeks and see what happens. We.  If the new nerve issues go away, then it’s likely a passing side affect and we can start gradual increases. If the pain stays the same, we’ll back off my current dose and see if that helps.

This ongoing med madness is overwhelming. And now doctors are proposing Ritalin to increase my energy and a very low dose of Methadone for pain. Methedone. It scares the shit out of me. Where does it stop? I’ve been asking myself that for two years.

Actually, I am coming to realize this is the wrong question. I know it’s the wrong question. But I am afraid to ask the right one. Amazingly for all the mistrust, all the nasty side affects, I still find a level of comfort in letting a doctor take the lead. I don’t research a med before trying it.  I find comfort hearing “we” are gong to try this medication. It means I am less responsible for myself. It means anything that goes wrong with a med is not my fault. The real question, the right and true question is not

where does it stop, but

where do I stop it.

There. I said it.