Oct 03, 2011
This blog from our recent patient addresses so many issues that I discuss in this forum that I just had to share it with my readers here. It touches on such issues as Tramadol abuse and addiction, Suboxone dependency and of course the process or rapid detox. Here it is, so judge for yourselves:
To Ann, Dr. George, Dr. Julia (Aharonov), Asher, Mallory, Katie, and Elaine, I owe my life. From the first phone call to MDS I knew that I had found what I had been looking for. I feel it very important to share my story with those who still suffer with opiate addiction and to let you know that there is hope!
After several years sobriety from opiate addiction in the ‘90’s, I made the very bad judgment call and begin taking Tramadol (Ultram) that was prescribed to me by a physician for “migraine headaches”. I had been given this drug several years prior in a treatment facility in order to detox from Oxycontin dependency. I cannot say that I was totally innocent as to the effect I would receive from this drug and, as with any opiate, as the effects began to wear off, I took more and more until I was completely and helplessly hooked with no way out.
After about 2 years of going from doctor to doctor to get enough Tramadol to make it through each day, I found out about the “wonder drug”, Suboxone. I did all the research I could find on this medication and, after 2 years on Tramadol (and anything else that would get me through to my next prescription), I located a psychiatrist who was more than willing to prescribe a high dose of Suboxone. I thought I had found utopia! Not only was I no longer having to work every day to get more of my drug of choice, but it was totally legal and he was totally willing to prescribe the pills every month without question. Little did I know that I had just switched to another opiate and that it would be close to two more years before I could find a solution.
The Suboxone worked well. It kept me at a level that I could continue my daily life with and I dutifully went to each of my very expensive psychiatry visits to get my prescription. However, now in my early 50’s, I began to lose all my zest for life. My libido was at an all time bottom; I was depressed, and sincerely thought that all of this was due to menopause! I went to doctors and no one could help. In fact, I cannot recall, until recently, the last time I had real joy or laughter.
In all fairness, my psychiatrist is a precious man. Sadly, though, he really had no idea how addicting the Suboxone is and, although we weaned me down to 1/3 of a 2 mg strip daily, I could not go any lower and still get out of bed and function. Any lower dose brought me into a deep depression and the only thing I could do to get out of it was to begin to raise my dose again. My doctor just could not understand why I couldn’t just go ahead and quit at such a low dose. He was prescribing 8 strips (2mg) monthly and I still could not completely stop. I reached my deepest despair and began to think I would never be able to do this without a lengthy and expensive drug rehab. Sadly, that was not an option because I had kept all of this secret from my family and friends and could not chance the repercussions of them finding out, especially in the job that I work.
That’s when I believe with all my heart that God (my higher power) led me to MDS. I researched rapid drug detox facilities for over a year but so many of them were so extremely expensive there was really no question as to my ability to do this. Eventually, about a month ago, I located one of the rapid detox programs in Michigan and called. At first, it seemed like I had found what I had been looking for. I scheduled an appointment and began to make arrangements to have the time off work and go to this facility. Because I feel it important for each person to make his or her own decisions, I will not say anything other than the fact that I believe I was led, just a few days before departing for this facility, to call the number on the MDS website. I had been especially attracted to a blog that the anesthesiologist, Dr. Julia, had posted on the site. That changed everything.
From the moment I made that call, I knew that I had found what I was looking for. Ann was my contact person and she was an absolute angel. She answered my questions, helped me come up with solutions, and told me every step of what I needed to expect. We spoke on numerous occasions and there was never a time that she was upset or too busy to speak to me. Confidentiality was of utmost importance and we texted several times as well. This was a huge decision for me and I had my fears and doubts. Ann put every fear I had to rest and from that point I never turned back. I promptly cancelled my other appointment and scheduled my procedure with MDS for the following week.
I took the plunge and eventually decided to talk to my 25 year old son about what was going on and, although I felt a great deal of shame, he embraced me and told me that, without a doubt, he would be going with me to Michigan and that he would see me through the entire process. Funny how I was so afraid to tell anyone that I had a problem and this actually brought him and me closer in the process!
On arrival to the area on the day before my procedure, I underwent an extensive battery of tests to assure that I was in utmost health and that the procedure would be safe for me. I had a stress echo by a cardiologist and went from there directly to the MDS center. Elaine, the receptionist, was kind and very helpful when we arrived. Then, I met Dr. George. What a guy! Extremely professional, yet caring and kind, I knew he was going to take good care of me. I had blood work, a psychological examination from a psychiatrist, and a complete medical workup by Dr. George. I think that one of the most important steps that put me totally at ease was that Ann, “my angel”, came to the center to meet me. I will never forget that selfless act from her because she certainly didn’t have to do that. I met Mallory (I’ll talk more about her in a moment), and with everything looking good, we left for our hotel room that MDS had reserved for us.
Let me say one thing. I followed every single instruction I was given by Ann and Dr. George. I was instructed to drink a bottle of Mag Citrate (a not-so-wonderful-tasting laxative) on Monday night prior to the procedure on Wednesday, followed by another bottle 4 hours later. Trust me, I did not want to do this, but I was determined to take my life back so I did precisely that. It didn’t make for the most pleasant plane ride in history but most of the effects were gone by late morning anyway. Also, I was asked to remain on a clear liquid diet on Tuesday, which I grudgingly did because I was starving!
The day of the procedure, my son took me to MDS and left me in capable hands. He came in and everyone assured him that he could return to the hotel and that I would be well cared for. I was then escorted to a very well established hospital/surgical area and prepared for my procedure. Naturally, I was apprehensive, but the staff at MDS put all my fears to rest. The remainder of “my” angels included Mallory (who I mentioned earlier), Asher, Katie, and Dr. Julia, who came and introduced herself and presented as a very professional woman who deeply cared about the path I was on. Although that was the only time I consciously saw her, I know that I was in very capable hands and that she took very seriously the fact that she held my life in her hands.
Now, about my other angels. Mallory is a complete doll. I have not seen anyone love their job as much as this young woman does in some time. Her bright smile, her confidence and poise were contagious. I had no fears. She assured my son that she would be coming back to the hotel to be with him for the first few hours after my release from the MDS center and she did just that. Asher, an astoundingly knowledgeable and intuitive young man was my paramedic who started my IV and gave me more information about what my recovery would be like. Katie was a new employee and I know they made a very good choice in choosing her as well because she is very eager to learn and was very caring and compassionate as well. The last thing I recall was Asher telling me I would be getting sleepy and evidently he was right because the next thing I knew I was waking up after the procedure.
Now, let me be very blunt here. I am not writing this blog to sell anything so my intent is to tell about my experience with this process. So, I will be as honest as I can possibly be and tell the events that followed as accurately as I possibly can. Naturally, I was under light anesthesia for the procedure. However, I did awake in a very nice recovery area, surrounded by the staff members who were there for my every need. Honestly, my first two hours seemed like something had gone terribly wrong. I recall a horrible case of restless legs, arms, body, and was unable to be still in the bed. The knowing staff did everything possible to alleviate these symptoms but this was just part of the process I was to endure. I lay there and recalled reading a testimonial of someone who had said they had had 8 hours of restless leg after their procedure so I kept thinking, “OK, I can do anything for just 8 hours”, over and over. Thank God, this was over in about 2 hours and I’ve only gotten better since that time.
As to their word, Mallory and Katie both returned to the hotel with my son and me. They assisted me to the bed where I slept for hours. I had fits of sneezing (3-4 big sneezes which I was told are part of the withdrawals) but, other than that, I did not have a single problem. They remained with my son and offered him support for several hours and I will never forget their kindness. I knew they had lives and families to get to but their dedication to what they are doing was insurmountable. I will never forget them for the comfort they provided my son who feared that he would not know what to do to care for his mother.
The next day, and for the next two days, just as we were told, Dr. George came by to check on me each morning, followed shortly by a visit from Asher. We had their personal phone numbers and there was never a time that we called that they didn’t promptly answer with words of wisdom and comfort. I am still astounded by Asher’s understanding of the addiction process and he offered a great deal of comfort to my son. Although I was feeling better by the hour (exactly as Asher told me I would), it was very nice to see their faces and hear how well I was doing.
I was given an array of medications with explicit instructions (to my son) to help me through any imaginable problem that may arise. I did take medication to help with a little restlessness for the first few nights, but at this point have stopped all the meds. I have them available if I need them but it feels so wonderful to “feel” again, I’m hesitant to take anything and am beginning to feel human again. My son and I left on Saturday morning as scheduled. I did not want to get out of bed because, as Newton’s law suggests, “ An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion” (more or less). So, I knew that the only way I was going to get moving was to get up and get moving. My son packed our bags and we headed to the airport.
At this point, I am 5 days post procedure. I awoke at 5 am (haven’t done that in years) and am dressed and ready to go. I ate breakfast (oh, one thing I did forget to mention was that I had zero appetite for the first 4 days but it is gradually returning and food tastes good again), and am now ready to go out and do errands. I am fortunate that I have a few more days off work because I still feel a little weak and am working through that on a daily basis by getting up and moving. My body is alive again and I spent last evening laughing, literally belly laughing, with another of my sons – something I haven’t done in a very long time. Happily, just as Dr. George also wisely suggested, my libido has returned with a vengeance and I’m 54 years old! YAY!
I had the wonderful privilege of meeting another patient who underwent the same rapid detox procedure on the same day and he came and visited my son and me on the 3rd day after our procedure. He also did extremely well and I was a little envious that he was up and around before me, which gave me that much more incentive to get up and get moving. He was a great guy, someone I would never have met under any other circumstances. He had been on what he described as massive doses of opiates, too numerous to count, and was a little surprised that a drug like Tramadol could have grabbed me like it did. What I want to say to anyone who still suffers, is that it does not matter what form of opiate you are having a problem with. Opiates are insidious, extremely addicting, and in too many cases in our world today, lethal. If you are like me and cannot stop, please understand that you are not weak, immoral, or lack motivation. Opiates have a physical mechanism that allows them to attach to brain receptors. You face one of a few options. One is that of placing yourself in a room without access out for up to 2 months to go through the withdrawal process. But, if you are like me, once the withdrawals get too bad, you’ll be out of that room in a flash trying to find something to make you feel “normal” again, and the addiction continues to rage. Next, you can continue to try to wean off the medications. The problem with that is that the brain receptors do not easily let go of the opiates and I was never able to get past the lower dosages. You can also continue to use, destroy your life and those around you and end up either in jail or, worse, in the cemetery. Or, you can make the call to Ann at MDS and find your angels like I found mine.
I will continue to add to this as time goes on. Like I said, I still feel a little weak, but not much and this is only day 5. I’m going shopping and plan to clean house later – if I choose to. You see, today I have choices that I didn’t have a week ago and I am grateful to God for this opportunity. I plan to seek out a meeting of some sort this evening – oh, and I went to church right by myself yesterday! I’m going to do every single thing Dr. George tells me I should do. He has answered every phone call I’ve made to him and I have every reason to believe he will be there as time goes on. I have a Naltrexone implant but am taking Naltrexone by mouth for a few days until that kicks in. I’m not messing with this addiction – hopefully, ever again. Not sure if I’ll be able to return for new implants every few months, but that is certainly an option. If not the implant, I will take the Naltrexone pills again for as long as I need. Asher made a little funny on his last visit to me; he said, “yeah, this is your chance at a drug-free life – unless you have a few thousand dollars you wanna throw around again”! I have decided that I don’t want to go that route again and, for that reason, am extremely grateful to the caring staff at MDS for giving me my life back and will follow every bit of advice they give me.
I am filled with gratitude today and apologize for the length of this blog. But then again, it’s my blog so I guess it can be as long as I want. My goal was to share my complete experience with the wonderful people at MDS and my prayers for those of you who still suffer with this disease. If you are waiting for the right time, maybe it is now. Ann is the angel of mercy you will speak to and I believe you will never turn back!