More on Drugs

(In my last post, I wrote about my feelings on drugs and medications in general. To summarize: I have always been really hesitant to use medication, even when I really need it…..  but I am very grateful for their existence when they help me feel how I need to feel and be who I need to be. )

I would like to share one of life’s little ironies with you.

I spent last Sunday doing some very heavy yard maintenance which involved relocating a pile of lumber. It was hard work, and I was tired at the end of it, but I was otherwise OK. I woke up a little bit stiff on Monday, which is to be expected after having engaged in hard labour– nothing I couldn’t deal with — and then I spent all day sitting in a hard chair  working on my computer, writing about how I almost never medicate, and hardly ever need to.  That evening, however, I was in total and utter agony.  My lower back hurt so much I could barely move. I had too many pillows, and then not enough.  I could not find a comfortable position. I was worried that I’d wake up stiff as a board, because my reaction to pain is to tense up my muscles, especially around the core.  Am I alone in this?  Is this what everyone does? I was afraid that the tension would make my stiffness and pain worse, so I administered myself a hot water bottle and shot of whiskey.

Now, I know that I spent all of the last blog post going on and on about how I barely drink, and I don’t do drugs, but this was an exception. My DH was horrified. For some reason he thought that my one finger of liquor was a precursor to full-blown alcoholism, even though I have no genetic or historical predisposition to it.   I guess we’re really a puritanical kind of family– except that we have a fully stocked liquor cabinet. Go figure.

I did have some pain the following morning, but it was tolerable.  I still felt some pain on Wednesday but I was definitely on the mend. By Thursday I was pretty much over it and I resumed all of the heavy lifting that I normally do in the course of a day– grocery shopping, loading and unloading the dishwasher; carrying kids around– the usual.  I even began reassembling a non-functional IKEA bookshelf that has been accumulating junk in my bedroom while waiting abut six months (ADD Alert!) for some TLC.

On Friday morning, I went fishing in my deep freezer to catch some cod for dinner.  To my dismay, I found that the entire unit was completely defrosted.  The freezer is in my basement, and it was completely packed with food that I’d just bought on my monthly Costco stock-up trip.  I carried basket after stinky basket and bag after putrid bag up the stairs and out the door to my garbage shed. In fact, the bags were so heavy that I could barely lift them over the top edge of the bin.  My back was protesting, but I guess not loudly enough.

I was hosting a dinner  for 16 people that evening and I had a lot of prep and cooking to do.  I was peeling, chopping, processing, and frying on my feet for four hours. Normally, this kind of work has no effect on me, but that day, at about hour 3, I noticed that my back felt like it was on fire.  I couldn’t stop, though. Dinner wasn’t ready. I got a stool from the bathroom to keep one foot up and distribute the weight, but it was too late. I couldn’t find relief in any position.  I had no choice but to keep going. I finished frying the last piece of battered fish, and went upstairs to shower without even pretending to clean up the huge mess I’d left in the kitchen.  In the shower, I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair. I tried lying down just to give my poor back a rest, but I couldn’t find any position that offered relief.

When the guests started showing up I forced myself out of bed, put on some comfortable and stretchy clothes, and did my best to brush my extremely knotty hair. All this time, my core was tensed up to keep me upright.  The meal was a success, and even though I tried to recruit guests to carry ‘heavy’ things like platters of food around, I still ended up having to do a fair bit of weight bearing, which was making the pain worse all along.

To make a long story short (this was supposed to be an aside), I found myself later in the evening wearing a waist support belt (which I use to improve my posture when sitting at my desk) after a couple of shots of lemoncello, two advil, a menthol patch, and Voltaren cream, which is a topical pain reliever.  I somehow got through the evening but then woke up from pain halfway through the night and slept fitfully. DH, finding me zombie-like in the morning, convinced me to take some more Advil.  And so began my day, made possible by analgesics.

I must admit, on the rare occasions that I do try pain relievers, I am always amazed at how well they work. I mean, they take the pain away. How crazy is that?  They make me really functional.  What more can you ask for?  I am so grateful to live in a world where a simple, sugar coated pill can make you feel so much better so quickly.

That being said, I still prefer to do everything I can to function as the person I want to be without medication. For pain I wait it out, or do targeted breathing. I use a hot water bottle or ice, or sometimes a band aid will do the trick, even though I’m over seven years old.  As I mentioned in my last post, I also managed to manage my life before ADD meds– for better or for worse, and that is where this blog post was intended to begin.

I was going to use this post to write about my journey from med virgin to drug-dependent desperado, but  I guess that will have to wait until next post because this one is getting too long. So much for my aside.

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