An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Friday, June 21, 2013

Medication-- Why I Take it

”How can you take so many medications? Don’t you feel bad about doing so?”  my overnight visitor asked me. She had just watched me open the “Saturday” compartment of my 7-day pill box, and swallow my medications down with a single swig of coffee. 
“No, I don’t. Not a bit.” I replied.  “Want to hear why?”
She did.  

When I was first struck with pain, which, actually did  felt like  a “strike” of lightning, as is the horror of trigeminal neuralgia, I would have, frankly, taken all the drugs in the world to try to stop the pain. Because, back then, I thought that (a) I would die without it, and (b) the pain was temporary at best. 
It took a good while to convince me that the pain, as awful it feels, is  not causing actual damage to my body, but, instead, is a cranial nerve sending wrong messages to my brain. It took even longer for me to come to grips with the fact that it is not curable and will remain part of my life, unless and until God chooses to heal me.  
That’s when I began to question how much medication I wanted to take.  Medication advertisements alone, can give us the willie-nillies! 
Seriously, how do they say:  
without taking a breath?!

So, we must not swallow pills lightly.

Back in the beginning, I tried to get by with just a little medication. It wasn’t just that I was worried about the side effects--actually this was a minor worry. My major problem with taking medicine was that I didn’t want to be “a person who takes a lot of medicine”. 
All the years of going to doctors and when filling out forms, it felt so good to leave the “medications taken on a regular basis” empty! How often had I boasted to others that we didn’t even keep tylenol in the house because we used it so rarely? Even being in as much pain as I was in, it was emotionally hard to give that up.  I was strong!  I was healthy!  Actually,  I was now sick.
It’s been a long time since then. I’ve been humbled in lots of prideful places--you know this if you’ve read many of my postings--and it’s been a good thing.  The more humbled I’ve become, the less I judge, and the more I like other people.
Upon this gained acceptance of illness living alongside of my life, I have  made it my job to know all I can know about it, and how to treat its symptoms.  My research, interviews with physicians, patients and various representatives of the pain community have lead to many calling me “Dr. Judi” and, seriously, I have no doubt I know more about cranial-facial neuropathies than most doctors, and even many neurologists.  (Much to my disappointment)
Ahhh, but I digress...
Here’s where I am, now 7 3/4 years into this life journey with severe pain,  regarding medication:

  1. Every treatment method, traditional or alternative has side effects.  (I consider medication a treatment, just to clarify.)  I’ve engaged in many treatment programs, of all of these kinds, with varied results and varied side-effects. My worst side effects have not been from medication, but from one treatment wherein the physician assured me there were absolutely minimal side effects!
  2. Even before I choose a treatment provider, I research the potential option, and then do legwork to find the best provider. I’ve actually gone out of state for the best treatment, be it traditional or non-traditional.  I am the one ultimately responsible for my wellness!  I   must know all the pros and cons; the potential side-effects; the costs; and I must keep my own record of everything. I also must stay the course with the treatment  long enough to ensure I’ve given it a fair chance, following the exact rules/orders I am given. All of this has also helped me from jumping on the bandwagon when fad treatments come along. 
(You know the ones--when a friend of a friend of a friend who has pain kinda’ like yours, does something that seemingly "cures" his pain.. and your friend tells you that you absolutely must make an appointment right away!)
  1. I must be honest with my treatment providers about everything--my obedience to the program, asking all my “stupid” questions, and being honest about all reactions--even the weird or embarrassing ones. I’ve learned that doctors (and other kind of treatment providers) are hard to shock. 
  2. I now thank God for creating the circumstances that provide for medication that allows me to function, despite severe pain, in the same way, He has provided medication for people who have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. 
  3. I acknowledge that my medication isn’t worth anything if I don’t do the  practical and common-sensical things to stay as well as I can physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  (Not that I do them that well, or all of the time!)
As I write and say over and over, please forgive me if I ever sound “preachy” or like I have it all under control! Because I am a mess, even on my good days!  It’s like I have multiple personalities--I can spend half a day getting my huge 3-ring binder full of my personal medical information organized, only to find a whole stack of essential papers that should go into it a few days later...but I can’t bear the thought of trying to put them in. Instead, I’ll shove them somewhere where they will be forgotten for months..until I actually need them and can’t find them.
Get the picture?

After talking all of this through with my guest, she told me she “got” for the first time what my life was like, as well as what life was like for others who suffer. She didn’t tell me this, but I could tell by her face that she was feeling kinda’ guilty. No doubt, she had long wondered if I was “really” in the know about ways to treat my pain.
I didn’t feel any sense of anger or disappointment about this. I used to be like her.  That’s a big reason why I live my life so openly, engaging people in my journey.  I hope to create better understanding and support for those who suffer. 
Each of us has our own journey to walk.  Whatever you might choose for your treatment methods, bottom line, go to God first, with humility. He has answers, but it takes a needy heart to hear.

Make me to know your ways, 
O Lord; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are the God of my salvation; 
for you I wait all the day long.  
Psalm 25:4-5 

Until Next Time,
P.S.  I bet you ’re wondering how much medication I take, so you can compare it to yourself. I’m not going to tell you, though. It’s not out of any sense of pride; it’s only because I don’t want any of you to find yourself    feeling guilty if you take more than I do, OR being tempted to judge me for taking more than you do!
Keep blooming!


  1. Judy, First I would like to tell you what a brave person you are for sharing your story. You did not have too, but for those that do take many medications , I am sure they feel a sense of relief they are not alone. I am also glad that you searched for the doctors that listened before judging your use of drugs. It is such a shame that some doctors think because you take several medications , you are a user. I hate the fact that you are in pain all the time but still believe where the answers are found. I know prayers kept me going. I was lucky in a way, I had TMJ(temporal mandibular joint disease.) I went through several doctors for 6 years before it was diagnosed. It was not heard of that much 30 years ago. I was on several different medications. Even with the pills I was taking, I still ended up in the ER 3 times a week. Luckily, I had a good neurologist that did every test to mankind to determine why I had such severe migraines with no luck. And yes, I was going to several dentist getting root canal after root canal.(None of which were needed). I even went to a Medical Center in Richmond to a doctor that was over oral surgery. He told me it was in my head and gave me sleeping pills. Needless to say, like you and after years of searching, I found a Oral Surgeon 10 minutes from where I lived. It turned out I was missing the ligament between the upper and lower jaw, so bone against bone was causing the problem. He went in and repaired it after 6 years of migraines, Of course, I still have problems but nothing compared to those years. I do not even mind sharing I hurt so bad, I thought of stopping the pain altogether. But than , like you I prayed. I could never do that, my parents had lost one daughter, I would surely never be the cause of that pain again. I still have flare ups due to the atrophy but nothing compared to the pain I had during those long 6 yrs. So, those people that take pain medicines or other medicines should be looked upon as someone that keeps the faith and keeps going. I think your a remarkable woman to share your story. One, you did it of your on free will and there are people that need those medicines to survive. I just hope those that abuse these drugs, don't ever have to suffer the real pain they were meant for. Unfortunately, Doctors are by no means God. But the abusers make it difficult for the people that really need them.

    It is not up to others to judge, that is up to a higher power.

    And there are many doctors that need to open there eyes and take the time to listen and learn. It is not very difficult to tell a abuser from someone in real pain. Luckily, I believe my prayers led me to those two Doctors that saved me from a life of pain.

    You are such a strong person and a blessing to us all. I don't know the pain you are feeling , but have had pain I thought I could die from. You are in my prayers and you would never be judged by this person. Thank you Judi.

  2. Tigers-- You say I'M strong? Wow--I can't imagine the strength you needed to suffer for SIX years without a diagnosis. I really can't. I thank God you didn't give up-more people than your parents would have been heartbroken; but yes, theirs would have been a pain of immeasurable depth.

    Thank you so much for writing--YOU blessed me--and this is better than any medicine!

    Oh, that you may continue to find God's help in your journey--

  3. Judi-
    FIrst I send out a special THANK YOU to Tigers for sharing her journey with Pain, medications, others thinking/suggesting how she should be handling her Pain. I have learned ONE major fact over these 18+ years of non-stop Pain since falling from a Tree~~

    So many have caring opinions--they mean well and want so badly to help but one problem exists---they have NOT lived Pain in the way you have, Tigers has and yes--I have. Not to sound cold--its a fact. I think at times that if people were to step into my shoes and take on this Pain--geez~~as my Dad would say "They would start running for the Hills and never come back!"

    I am truly BLESSED with my Pain Management Doctor~~~she has to do a lot of Tough Love at times with me. I will be going along, taking my regular meds, then Pain rears its UGLY head and I can't do anything without Pain shoving me all over the place and I will see her, then gently slide the question "Uh, how about raising my Pain meds?" I know before the last word leaves my lips what her answer will be "Martha-You have a LONG way to go with this Pain~~~it will not go away and you are still a young woman. We will need stronger meds down the line--right now I need you to be strong as you can---I know this is NOT easy for you!"

    I always take a few seconds, then lift my head up and look her in the eye--"Okay Doc, I have full trust in you, but right now---I really don't LIKE you very much!" we share a laugh and it lightens the moment--she has suffered through THREE major back operations--and I can see Pain on her face~~but she keeps going.

    A dear friend's husband questioned me several years ago--calling me weak and it took just seconds for me to "set him straight" so to speak. He was careful after that and we have found our way... Now fast forward through the years--my Pain has increased-feeling as if its on over-load!! I attended Mass saturday-barely getting through it and the Lady Usher asks me 'Are you Okay?" Judi--I was repeating her words over and over in my head--thinking to myself, "If you only knew" and all I could reply was a very weak "Do I look like I am Okay?" Smiling as I said it. Tears were ready to fall from me as everything seems to feel like its just a bit TOO much.... These are the days when I am learning to STOP, and listen for HIS guiding help.... Thank you for sharing with us Judi--and for allowing me to ramble a bit..... God bless you my dear friend. martha

  4. First, of all, Martha...I'll bet you were in pain and that's why you wrote your comment in the middle of the night!

    I really appreciated your words, "These are the days when I am learning to STOP and listen for HIS guiding help."

    God hears the prayers of the suffering. Again and again, he pulls me out of my worst places, and shows me how my circumstances will not control me when I keep my attention on Him. always--