Not all dangerous side effect to medications happen all at once. It's the ones no one sees coming that have a never-ending impact and leave the ones left behind asking what they should have done to change things. For more information on Suicide prevention, go to: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048 or visit https://www.crisistextline.org/suicide?msclkid=0daddf69499314c9934c826b1ed2d53b
My story began Sixteen months ago. My husband decided that it was time to purchase a new sectional, and I agreed. Our old sectional was really much too big to our living room and had survived somehow five Alaskan Malamute puppies, with some minor repairs.
We had gone looking at several stores until he found the one he wanted. It a chase lounge for me, a lazy boy for him, and plenty of places for butts in between. We loaded it in the beast, and we were on our way home.
Once we got home, that is when things got interesting. We used to have a narrow arch that led into our living room. It turned out to be to narrow for the couches to go through, and after a little brainstorming, we came to the conclusion that we would have to take the sliding glass doors off the tracks and bring the couches over the wall and through the back yard.
So my son and I walked the couches out into the front yard, and over to the wall. Elijah, my son, is much taller than I am and so I had him put his end on top of the wall and walk through the house and into the yard, where he would take his end of the couch and wait for me to come to get mine.
To be tall enough to hold the couch level, I stepped onto railroad ties our neighbor used to divide our front yards. Not knowing at the time that he had not secured them to the ground. As I stood on the railroad tie with a couch above my head, I suddenly felt the tie rock. I was able to keep the upper portion of my body straight and did not drop the sofa, but the lower half of my body rolled side to side, and of the tie.
To say that I was startled would be an understatement. I was in so much pain, and new that something wasn't right when burning sharp pains started shooting down my legs. Elijah made it to the other side of the wall, and when he lifted his end, I pushed my end over the fence and balanced it. I walked into the house, every step more painful than the next, becoming almost unbearable. When I saw Elijah carrying the couch on his own, I was worried about his safety but also thankful that he didn't wait for me.
I fell to the floor in tears as he walked into the house. "Where do you want it, ma?"
Elijah gently set the couch down and came over to me. "Are you okay ma?" My son Elijah is Autistic, and I have a terrible habit of telling him I am okay even when I am not. And this was one of those time.
"Please just gently slide it over there." Around this time, my husband came home. Seeing me in tears, trying to stand up so I could screw the legs onto the couch was too much for him. I gave Elijah the drill, and my husband put me to bed, while he and Elijah finished putting the sofa together, and the doors back on the track. My daughter Genevieve brought me a heating pad and a glass of water. She laid next to me until and gave me tissues to wipe the tears of pain streaming down my face.
"I'm not going to lie babe. I really did it this time." My husband standing at the foot of the bed didn't know what to do. He wanted to take me to the ER, but I am one of those people who don't go the ER unless it's ripped off, or you're dying. Everything else can wait for the morning when the doctor's office is open or urgent care is accessible. Besides, I wasn't going to go anywhere fast. I could barely get up on the side of the bed, not to mention the six steps from my bed to my bathroom.
The next day I did go in to see my doctor. She prescribed me a Baclofen and Gabapentin, and an MRI. I had never heard of Gabapentin before, but I was hopeful that it would take the pain away and be a safe medication because my doctor said it was a non-habit-forming alternative to opioid prescriptions. I was sold. Non-habit-forming drugs are essential to me. I come from a genetic line of Alcoholics and other addictions, and because of this knowledge, I am very cautious about what I put in my body.
A few days had passed, and I was on the couch. I was barely able to move because of the pain, and the medications I was given took the pain away for the most part but also made me so tired that I couldn't function. So I slept, if that is what you call it, for almost a month while my body adjusted to the new chemicals in it. I had also started noticing strange things were happening. For example, I was dropping things all the time. It was as if my hand would just open, and the object I was holding would jump out. I was becoming more clumsy, and sometimes words I was trying to say wouldn't come out, of my mouth.
When we got the results of the MRI, it showed that there was severe swelling and bruising on my spinal cord. I was told that because of degenerative discs, my vertebrae actually knocked into the spinal cord causing the damage. I was told I was fortunate that my spinal cord wasn't cut, but that there was apparent harm done. However, until the bruising and swelling went down, we wouldn't know for sure to what extent.
So I was sent to physical therapy. My doctor increased my Gabapentin, added Tramadol, and increased the mg on my Baclofen. My body tried so hard to adjust and keep me on a regular routine, but in the end, it succeeded to the effects of the medication, and in the end, my body once again adjusted to my new life, with a foggy brain. Every time I would complain, I was told that it would take my body some time to adapt, but in the end, everything will balance out, and be perfect.
After a year of this, I gave up. I threw my hands in the air and told the people around me to include my doctor that I had grown tired of it all and I would try anything to of the medications, and back to my healthy life again. The Dr. suggested that I try a procedure called a transforaminal epidural injection. My first major mistake was I agreed to a process I knew little to nothing about. I have always had a fear of people shoving objects into my spine, which is why I didn't bother to have to an epidural.
I know what you all thinking, but "You have two children Dana, two children that adore you and have turned out so to be good children, how can you be afraid of them sticking needles in your spine?" To which I would say, I had two children with zero pain medication. After doing research, and talking to several doctors, I made the choice not to have an epidural because even though adverse reactions are rare they do happen, and there are some very dangerous, and life-threatening possible side effects that more people need to research for themselves before saying yes, I want it without a doubt.
The morning of my first injection was a whirlwind. Everything went so fast, and every time I would try to get the people to talk to me, they would avoid conversations, or give me short answers. When I get nervous, I chat about anything. I was taken to a room, and when my shy bladder kicked in, I asked if I could use the bathroom, and a very annoyed young woman reluctantly said yes.
I came back into the room and was instructed to lay on the table face down. The Dr. came in and stood on my side and introduced himself. I couldn't see his face, and still can't remember his name. I was relieved that the Dr. would talk to me while he worked. I felt when he threaded the needle into my back and knew what happened when I felt a sharp pain immediately followed by my foot twitching, and my leg to lock almost like a leg cramp. Once the procedure was finished I was helped up and placed into a wheelchair, and taken into a lobby like an area, and sat there while my paperwork was completed, and my husband was located and told where to bring our vehicle, so I wouldn't have to walk at all.
While I was sitting in this lobby like area, I began to feel strange. My head began to feel as if I were sitting at the bottom of the deep end of a swimming pool. The more pressure I began to feel the voices of the people around me began to sound muffled, my body began to feel heavy, and it was hard for me to keep my eyes open. The medical staff all assumed it was due to the sedation I was given for the procedure. But I wasn't given sedation, because I chose not to have sedation. I was loaded into my vehicle, and my husband and I began driving towards home.
On our drive home, I began telling him what I was feeling. My husband wanted to get me home quickly and put me to bed, so I could sleep off whatever was happening to me. I did I went to bed, sleeping for about an hour. When I woke up, I could barely get out of bed. Once I did get to the side of the bed, I stood up and quickly sat back down. I texted my husband for help, and when he came in, I told him that I couldn't walk, I needed to pee, and I felt like I was going to die.
First things first, he helped me to the bathroom, I ended up falling asleep, and had no idea how long I had been there when he back in, and asked me if I was okay. He helped me to bed and got his blood pressure machine out to make sure I was okay. 145/105. That is what my blood pressure was that day. I called the Dr and waited for a callback.
It was decided that when the needle went into my body, it knicked the nerve, and when the medication was injected my body saw it as a poison, a hurt full drug that it was desperately trying to get rid of. My medications were adjusted again, and I was sent home to allow my body to heal its self. My second injections pushed back three weeks, and away we went back to my house, where I would lay in bed sleeping for six weeks.
It was suggested that my body saw the medication as a poison and fought against it. I didn't understand half the things that were being said to me, I only realized that when I walked into the clinic that day I could walk, my pain was manageable, and when I left I couldn't walk, my pain was unbearable, and I began to slowly lose faith in the idea that would recover from this mess.
I went in to see my Dr. again after a month, we talked about how studies have shown that the second shot wouldn't be as bad as the first, in fact, it would seem I should be out of pain and start living my life again with the second shot. And so I agreed, set the appointment and returned to my home, that was beginning to feel more like a prison than a house.
I have always been a positive person. I can find the smallest ray of sunshine in the darkest event, but day by day it was getting harder and harder to find anything worth being happy about. Day by day, I slowly stopped going outside, I was not able to go to the store, walking even down my hallway had become so painful that I gradually stopped doing that too. But I was determined not to give up everything. I continued my live streams. I needed to keep up with my streams and my writing, and everything else would fall into place. But as life moved forward, the things I loved to do every day started becoming more of a chore, and less enjoyable. And by the middle of April, I had given up on trying to write my new WIP and started missing live streams, by the beginning of May I had withdrawn nearly wholly, no longer taking phones calls, refusing visitors, and I stopped writing altogether.
The people around me didn't think anything of it. The fact that I wasn't feeling well was a good enough reason not to question why I wasn't working. I wasn't sleeping, the pain was far too intense for sleep, it was more like a dozing. I could hear what was going on around me but didn't have the strength to move, or the desire to do so. I kept telling myself, if I can make it through the second shot I will be okay, my life will be given back to me, and I can finally put this nightmare behind me. And then it was here, the day that would change everything.
I woke up that morning full of energy, and positive thinking had returned. I told my husband that the nightmare was soon going to be over and that I would have my boots on the mountain in no time. We had gone into the clinic, everything was going much more smoothly than the first time. The staff was talking to me and joking about how I had to take a drug test before they could do the procedure. I came out and laughed about how I was off schedule because of the unexpected UA, I had my blood pressure done, and it was 145/105. Both women looked at each other confused, and the one said to the other.
"Stay here, and I am going to talk to the Dr." She came back and changed the position of my arm then retook my blood pressure. 135/95, still high, but not high enough to cancel the procedure. I shook it off as nerves, fear from the last shot, and what it did to me. Unsure how this shot would affect me. Despite all this, I went ahead and had the procedure done, and couldn't wait to get out of there and get home.
But things didn't go as I had hoped, and I found myself back in bed, and again in more pain after the procedure than I was before the injection. Though I can say that the adverse side effects were not as harmful the second time around, they were still miserable. I found myself not sleeping again. I have always cycled through phases of sleeping well, and not sleeping well. I didn't think much of it until I got to the point where I not only couldn't sleep at night, but I couldn't sleep during the day either.
I was also starting watching the people around me, and every little gesture would cause paranoia, that somehow that person was out to get me, or had bad intentions. I became increasingly agitated, losing my temper quickly, and speaking harshly to my family. My body ached as if I was sick, I had migraine symptoms, but that migraine never came. I disconnected from most of my friends, and nearly my extended family, and when they did come around, I didn't want them to touch me, or be in my personal space. I just wanted to be with my family in my home. The world outside was too big, and for the first time in my life I didn't want to touch my laptop, I didn't want to be on the internet, because the internet, had become another doorway for the outside world to get in, and poison my safe pace. And so in an attempt to show the people watching that everything was Fine because everything was fine, everything is fine, we are FINE, I AM FINE…. Until I wasn't
I remember waking up at 2am. I remember waking up and feeling my clothes, were damp, and my hair was wet. I sat up at the edge of the bed and looked around the room, confused as to where I was. I stood up, and that is when I . "woke up." I shook my head in frustration for being so simple and walked into the bathroom. I shut the door and didn't turn on the light, I never do because I didn't want to wake up my husband. I closed my eyes and turned around to find the toilet when I realized that once again, I become lost in my bathroom. This wasn't the first time since starting the Gabapentin that I have gotten lost in my bathroom, and I was sure it wouldn't be my last. My bathroom is literally 5' X 5', but I was able to get lost in it. And I didn't want to call out for help, because I didn't want to wake my husband, I didn't want him to know how bad my head had gotten.
I was able to find my way out of the bathroom. I walked back over to the side of my bed, hoping that I would be ready to go back to sleep. I raised my hands over my head, and let the cold night air blow over me covering me like a crisp cotton sheet, I laid back down and closed my eyes hoping the soothing sound of the fan would help me sleep, and give me some much-needed sleep. But that was not what happened. I ended up tossing and turning, and because I didn't want to wake up my husband, I decided I should get up.
3 am. I collected my things and quietly walked out to the living. I sat for a while in the dark. I had brought the fan out of my office and was listening to the white noise of the fan with eyes shut, hoping to find comfort, and perhaps a few more hours of sleep. Sitting with my eyes closed, blanked by darkness, hoping for rest, I sat, trying hard to block the thoughts of the world out, but they crept in like aunts through thru the concrete foundation of a home.
With no warning, or understanding of why thoughts began to flood my mind. I sat in the dark, telling myself that my book is no good. That my time is being wasted, that no one really likes me, that my family is all against me, that my life isn't right, but the worst one was hearing myself say that I was poisoning my family and all the reasons why they would be so much better if I just disappeared. As this thoughts rolled into my minds like a tsunami of toxic sludge, killing all the right things a firey hot tear burned my face as it moved slowly down, alone in the dark hopeless, not knowing what to do, convinced to just jump in my truck and disappear into the darkness of the night. When my phone lit up and distracted me.
"What the hell are you doing up?"
I looked down and saw the message. I laughed through tears, and thought to myself, yeah, what the hell am I doing up, right?
"I can't sleep." We started having a conversation about random things, and eventually, I started making a list of the reasons why I need to be where I am. I looked at the positive feedback on my book, stood next to my daughter while I slept thinking of what a blessing it has been being her momma. I found some old videos and pictures of my babes when they were small, and when the sunlight started to raise the song, Jesus paid it all started playing randomly on my music playlist. I sat with the cat in the front yard, still texting with my friend, watching the sunrise. And I remembered a line from my book.
Mina tells Cassius, "You are the sun in the sky that warms me on the coldest day, and I will be your moon to light even the darkest night." I smiled, watching the sunrise in the sky growing higher, and higher, restoring my hope and chasing away the darkness that was consuming me.
My husband woke up and asked me what was going on. I told him what happened during the night, and he went right into the bedroom and destroyed the medication that was changing me to the point of being unrecognizable. I called my doctor and made an appointment. I told him what had happened. I explained that I had literally looked in the mirror and could hardly recognize myself. Then I told him about the thoughts about wanting to end everything. He said I was lucky that not everyone has people in their lives to bring them back. He told me that most people don't even notice the changes until it's too late, and most of them don't also see it when the change happens.
He agreed that it was good that I stopped taking the medication. He asked me why I chose the Gabapentin, and I explained that my sister had taken it, and had a bad experience with it and that my husband was the one who came up with it was Gabapentin. I was more like trial and error, but because he knew I wasn't well, he could keep a close eye on me until we figured everything out.
Please don't ever ignore the thoughts and feelings that fester deep inside of you. Even subtle changes in beliefs and habits can be a sign of danger. Dr and Pharmacists don't really talk in depth about what to look for, and most people are looking for signs like one day I was laughing and the next I wasn't, when in fact it started off feeling like I was getting sick, exhausted because I wasn't sleeping, cranky, the list goes on and on. Talk to your doctor, family, friends, let them know what medications you are taking, don't be afraid to tell them about what you are feeling, what your body is going through, and how it is affecting you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Suicide is preventable. Get free help now.
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For immediate help
If you think you may attempt suicide, get help now:
Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.Call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime of day. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:
Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation Increasing use of alcohol or drugs Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there's no other logical explanation for doing this Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
Warning signs aren't always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.