Starting a New Medication – A Lyrica Warning!

Before starting any new medication, you need to read this.

After the first pills, the pain vanished. My hands, my arms, my back. I felt magnificent. I recall sitting on the bed and watching the muscles leaping and twitching in my arm. The involuntary movements were entertaining, at first. My fingers twitched and leaped. My arm jerked. My shoulder twitched as the electric pulsing ran down my arm. It didn’t hurt. In fact, nothing hurt. The nerve pain in my hands and arms, gone. The nerve pain in my feet, gone. My back pain, neck pain, leg pain, sciatica…GONE!

I felt energized. Creative. I started a bullet journal. Over the course of 3 days I completed over 30 pages of charted notes, lists, extensive drawings and paper collages. I created spreads that I shared all over my social media. All hours of the night, I had paper, scissors, stickers, and containers of markers, ink pens, gel pens, colored pencils. I went through several glue sticks and rolls of tape and needed more.

I felt funny walking. Light-footed, wobbly, like the world was leaning and I was trying to make my feet cling to it. I wasn’t sure I was walking straight. I bumped into things. It was kind of funny, I thought.

Things were appearing in my hands. People appearing in front of me, waiting for my response. Had I been talking?

I was sitting in the bathtub. I don’t remember getting in the bathtub. The water was cold. My head felt foggy as I tried very hard to force memory. What day was it?

I woke up with my face on the stove. I was boiling water. I don’t know why I was boiling water. My family members were staring at me.

I was outside. The rooster was missing in the woods. I was amazed that I was walking on all the sticks and rocks and it didn’t hurt my feet at all! How amazing! I stared at my bare feet with fascination as I tromped through the field, across the gravel driveway, and through the woods. I was crying, very hard, but I wasn’t sure why. I was laughing that I was crying. (I later remember we hadn’t had that rooster for several years, as he had been killed by a predator, while fighting honorably to protect his hens.)

I woke up and I was sitting on the couch writing a letter. The scribbles on the paper were unintelligible for the most part. Other words were terrifying and rambling. One letter was enveloped and stamped and hanging on the “outgoing mail” clip by the door. Inside of the envelope, more ramblings I didn’t remember writing. Was I sleepwalking? I remember talking to someone.

My boyfriend was mad at me. This was very unusual. I didn’t know why. I sobbed on the couch to my 14-year-old daughter that he didn’t love me even though I was having a stroke. She consoled me. What was happening to me? I sobbed on, not knowing why or how I could allow myself to be pouring out myself in such horrible manner to my child, my CHILD!

I became increasingly belligerent. I made a lot of phone calls.

I don’t feel right, I kept telling people. I told the pharmacist, again. I don’t know how many times I called Joe the pharmacist, but the last time I called he called me by name as soon as he got on the phone. The “hold” song from the doctor’s office phone was playing on a loop in my head. How many times had I called them?

Something was wrong, very wrong. I hadn’t slept for days. What day was it?

When I finally reached my doctor on Monday morning, sobbing, feeling excited, creative, fantastic, terrible, and terrified, all at the same time. My arm still jerking, my fingers having a mind of their own.

You are having an allergic reaction ma’am. Don’t take any more of the Lyrica pills.

When I stopped taking the medication, the first day was like a fog lifting out of me, a sobering up, a making amends to the people I had tormented while I was in a medicated stupor. A great sigh of relief, and the return of pain. My feet had cuts all over them. My heels were deeply cracked and painful.

It took nearly 6 months after my 3-day experience with an allergic reaction to Lyrica, a medication my doctor prescribed to me to try to treat my chronic pain, for my arm to stop twitching. My fingers twitched, sometimes uncontrollably, for nearly a year. I still have cracks in my heels. The fear of the experience will never leave me. My family did not know what was happening as a lot of what I was experiencing while taking the medication, was not expressed to them, at least not in any way that made sense. I must say honestly, that it ranks high as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I wanted to share my experience as a reminder to check all new medications for side effects before you start the taking it, so that you can watch out for those symptoms. Have a trusted loved one know this information as well. If my family had known what to look for, they may have intervened on my behalf. Medications can affect your mental health in terribly destructive ways, and you need to be informed. While this medication is a life-saver to many, it is now on my list of “do not take” medications with my doctor, even listed as a medication allergy.

Lyrica (pregabalin) is an anti-epileptic drug medication used to treat neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia, for treating partial onset seizures in adults, and fibromyalgia. Common side effects include:

Dizziness
Drowsiness
loss of balance or coordination
Dry Mouth
Constipation
Edema
Breast swelling
Tremors
Blurred vision
Weight gain
Problems with memory or concentration

Medications can change your life but be very careful HOW you administer a new medication, and be informed, very informed, about the risks. I hope that sharing this experience with you will be a reminder of this, and to pay attention, as well, to family members under your care when they start a new medication. If you or someone you love are experiencing unusual symptoms or behavior while taking a new medication, or at any time you are on a course of medication, please call your doctor to discuss your concerns.

Chronic Pain: Just DEAL With It??? 10 Ways HOW

 

A friend of mine recently said to me while we were discussing my experiences in living with chronic pain and how difficult it can be for others to understand, “well, it is a “thing.” Yes, chronic pain is a “thing,” and it is something many of us live with daily. Maybe you power through and keep on working, or you find yourself parked on the couch day after day, feeling like life is simply passing you by.

Life does not have to just pass you by.

We all do our best to “just deal with it,” a phrase we hear more often than comfortable. And in the throes of a nationwide opiod epidemic, some of us do so without medications that would have been a standard treatment. Other medications, not necessarily pain medications, are often prescribed, counseling or physical therapy recommended, or occasional steroid treatments.

 

The source of chronic pain often goes undiagnosed, which can lead to anxiety and unease. “What is wrong with me?” becomes a dominating thought.

There is hope.

But managing chronic pain is more than doctors, pills and therapy. It is developing a support system and a lifestyle that allows you to continue living your life to the fullest that you are able and having people around you that love you in spite of your limits. Here are a few tips to managing the pain and living life off the couch of despair.

 

 

Managing Your Pain

 

  • Yes, see your doctors and follow their advice. It is not a final solution to what you are going through, but they can offer medications, therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, or possibly surgical options. Do not carry a shame or guilt about pursuing these options. You are taking care of your health the same as you would any other disease or condition. Understand that they may not be able to cure you of your condition.

 

  • Be honest with your family and friends. Let them know you are struggling with pain and that it is affecting how you go about your daily activities, how you participate in social engagements, and how you feel from day to day. Try to understand that they cannot feel what you are going through and some skepticism is understandable. Be careful not to burden them with complaints, but he honest. If there are people in your life who criticize you, berate you, or abuse you for what you are going through, perhaps it is time to distance yourself or burn a bridge with those people. You need a supportive community, not one that makes you feel less of a person for what you are going through.

 

  • Develop healthy coping skills. This is not the time to abuse alcohol, pain killers, or other unhealthy means of dealing with your pain. Self-abusive activities will only worsen what your body is already trying to manage. Find things that alleviate your pain and listen to your body. Understand that our approach may have to be alleviating or tolerating your pain, not ending it. Chronic pain is just that, chronic. If walking helps the pain in your hips, then make the time to do it. If Epsom salt baths or using your TENS unit bring you relief, then make the time to do it Taking care of yourself is crucial to living a more comfortable life.

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up over your limitations. Pain changes people. You realize you have limits, but this does NOT mean that you do not have purpose, value, and deserve to live proudly. While your pain may limit you, it does not define you. Try to focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t.

 

  • Ask for help. This may seem wimple, but some people try to do everything they used to do and make living with the pain much harder than it could be. Let some things go if need be and ask others to pitch in a little more and lighten the load where it is most cumbersome.

 

  • Find joy wherever you can. Joy, smiling, laughter, even in small doses can help you to feel alive, content, and change your perspective on having a bad day. Embrace these moments and cling to them!

 

  • Try to accept that there will be good days and bad days. Maximize on your good days and be patient with yourself on the difficult ones. You didn’t ask to be in this position, and you may have no control over the circumstances, but you do have control over how you respond to it, how much mental attention you give it, and how you can stay positive.

 

  • Listen to your body and respond to it with kindness. Sometimes pain signals are for us to slow down, stop using that are of our body and let it rest and heal, or the signals are simply misfirings that will fade on it’s own. Do not ruminate or inflate problems that may be temporary. Focus on something else the best you can until it passes.

 

  • Say NO. There are times you just, cannot. It is ok to be present when you can, but you know that you can’t always be at that meeting, or that party, or get-together. It is ok to be absent, without guilt. If you were sick, you’d have to bow out and this is no different. Sometimes you just can’t be there…and this is OK.

 

  • Finally, if someone tells you to “just deal with it,” tell them: I AM.

 

It’s Time to Take Back Your Life
Life can be difficult, but it does not mean it is impossible.

 

Living with chronic pain can be difficult, isolating, embarrassing, and debilitating. If you know someone experiencing this, try not to judge or be unkind, or worse, to gossip about them to others. We ALL have our burdens to bear and we handle them in vastly different ways, the best that we can. And again, to those of you living with this condition: Stay positive, you have VALUE, and your pain does not define who you are.

AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE.