I am going to pull back the curtain and reveal the unfiltered hell that I have been living through these past few months. I am no stranger to medication changes, withdrawals and side effects as I have been treated for various medical conditions off and on since childhood. These experiences have been irritating, uncomfortable, yet mostly tolerable. In January 2018, I transferred to a new health insurance, Kaiser Permanente, because the medical facility I had been treated at since I was born was giving me a hell of a time in regards to getting me the medications and treatments that I needed; doctors would bounce in and out of network DURING a healthcare election and then I could not afford it or afford the medications. There will be a whole post dedicated to that later. Prior to Kaiser, I was administered a medication known as Lyrica for fibromyalgia and it was doing the trick. You probably have seen the dramatic commercials about Lyrica on TV – think of me the next time you see it lol. Well Kaiser Permanente doesn’t carry it because it is formulary and I had two options: being taken off of it or pay astronomical amounts of money which I don’t have (trust me – I am no stranger to paying astronomical amounts of money for medication while have NO MONEY – I am in a lot of debt). Long story short, they took me off of Lyrica and now there is absolutely ZERO medication standing between me and fibromyalgia except daily Motrin and healthy lifestyle. That is where Cymbalta, the spawn of Satan, and Effexor, Satan himself, enter the scene. I was on Cymbalta for about a week or two on the lowest dosage and was SO SICK. I have NEVER experienced nausea of that magnitude before, and I have been through A LOT in my life. So my doctor promptly took me off of it, while I was weaning myself off of Lyrica and another medication. So now she wanted me to take Effexor, starting at the lowest dosage and increasing to 150 mg by the fourth week. Readers… I BARELY got past week one. Keep in mind at this time, I am ALSO experiencing withdrawal symptoms for three other medications and recovering from side effects from one of those three. I can’t even remember the severe side effects at this point because the withdrawal symptoms are hell on earth!! Although, I do recall the severe side effects being similar to the withdrawals. Lets talk about the Effexor withdrawal symptoms shall we. Buckle your seatbelt folks – this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness. NO JOKE!!!! The nausea experienced from Cymbalta was CHILD’S PLAY. The nausea and flu like symptoms from Effexor withdrawals was knock you off your feet, blind side you, one step away from throwing up all day every day that you carry a trash bag with you like Linus and his blanket. I was and still am on a nausea rollercoaster – it is tolerable and then BAM, you are going through a corkscrew and praying you survive. I cannot even EXPLAIN IN WORDS how HORRIFIC it is!!! All at the same time, I felt like I was on my time of the month, pregnant and on menopause. I have been hot, cold, hot, cold. The temperature in the house is bipolar because of me, and my boyfriend has endured it. He loves the AC turned down to penguin temperature as we call it. Well I turned it down to a point that he said HE WAS COLD – you know things are serious when he is cold. Well at least my boyfriend is getting early training and exposure now. I could barely eat even toast and plain rice. I could barely get out of bed and still am a zombie. I laid on the couch with an ice pack under my head, a heating pad on my stomach, Benadryl and Motrin in my system, peppermint oil applied to my stomach and diffusing in a diffuser – I just laid there and full on sobbed for days. I barely slept and I barely ate. I just prayed the pain would go away. Another SEVERELY IRRITATING side effect was what I lovingly call “nerve itching” on hands, feet, and extremities. The type of itching where scratching does NOT WORK!!!! And readers, this is when Benadryl became my BFF and visited me every, single day. Little did I know – others who experienced Effexor withdrawals took a Benadryl a day to *TRY* to keep the Effexor withdrawal symptoms away. *Disclaimer: I want my readers to know that I am responsible with both my prescriptions and over-the-counter medication – so please bear this in mind as you continue reading.* *Back to the regularly scheduled program.* Once I passed the first phase of hell, a sinus infection/allergy type symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks. This is the current phase I am in right now. Sinus infections seem to be a regular visitor as of late – Hmmm. I am also no stranger to allergies, but these allergy symptoms are a BEAST!!! Here are the symptoms: itchy, watery eyes; itchy, runny nose; annoying tickle in your throat in addition to a sore throat; AND A NEW DEVELOPMENT – my teeth and gums are experiencing a sensation like they itch and are sore – hard to describe. This whole teeth itching situation needs to pack its bags and leave me alone. All of this itchiness is driving me up one wall and down another. The kicker – the Benadryl, Motrin, throat spray and essential oils are BARELY taking the edge off. I have literally tried standing on my head, so to speak, to get relief without much luck. In addition, I am dizzy and feel like I am spinning when I am standing still. I am very sensitive to light. My boyfriend has endured eating and living in dim lighting. I had to wear sunglasses in the store because the overhead lighting was too bright. I was channeling my inner celebrity. I am very weak like you feel after you have had the flu. I don’t remember the last time I slept through the night. I don’t really sleep anymore – I take about 3 hour naps a day and that’s the extent of my sleeping. Its either the itchiness, nausea, running to pee every 5 seconds (literally) or fibromyalgia pain keeping me awake. I have also had other gastrointestinal issues, which I will not bore or gross you out with in this blog. My other constant companion is headaches, but we are old friends and used to it. This has had such a huge impact on my life and there has been a lot of fall out. My boyfriend and I scheduled a very overdue housewarming party, but we had to cancel it because of my poor medical state as well as just quitting the job where my boss was treating me poorly, which negatively impacted my health. I have been a recluse and only see my boyfriend and my parents (as much as possible). I have blown off my friends, and I feel completely horrible about doing that. I just hate letting people down, and then I end up making things worse by cancelling last minute, not cancelling in a respectful fashion, and/or committing to something I can’t keep. I don’t want to commit to absolutely anything anymore because I am absolutely terrified I will just have to cancel and sometimes cancelling last minute has consequences. This is the unfortunate part of the disease – I don’t look sick; It is HIGHLY unpredictable from day to day so its like Russian roulette (will I feel well or will I not feel well); If I do fulfill this commitment, will I suddenly feel so sick that I will need to leave and possibly feel so awful that I will have trouble getting home, i.e. unsafe to drive home (I absolutely HATE being an inconvenience); I am constantly reminding myself that it is hard for people to understand the hell I go through, especially since I try to slap a smile on my face and hide it. I also feel like I annoy those around me because I talk about my medical condition so much. Every decision I make has to include my medical conditions to set my day up for success so I am always thinking about my medical conditions. I feel like I am missing out on so much. I was not able to support my best friend and attend a theater production she was working backstage for – shocker: I had to cancel last minute. I don’t want to start crying – but I can’t attend my sister’s graduation in Texas because I don’t have the money now to fly out and see her. I can no longer endure long car rides, even driving to my parents house an hour and a half away is hard, and so I have to fly everywhere or I will be very sick once I reach my destination. Then, the vacation is over before it even had a chance to begin. I used to LOVE car rides. My boyfriend always travels with me, especially out of state, because he knows how to take care of me if anything related to my medical condition goes sideways, like the situation I am in now. I can’t hold down a job at this point with being so sick and all my nonexistent money goes to all my medical bills and to medications that make me miserable and can no longer user. I will insert positivity here to brag on my sister. I had the pleasure of standing by her side at her wedding as her maid of honor a year ago. I missed her graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree because I was apart of opening some Entertainment offerings for the Disneyland 60th Diamond Celebration. She is graduating again this May from an accelerated program at Texas Tech where she earns her Doctorate Degree right after her Bachelor’s Degree. I wanted to be there to witness it in person, but I will be cheering for her in California. Sometimes I just feel like such a failure not being able to hold down a job, pull my weight at home, at times not being able to lift my own dogs, being the best girlfriend for my boyfriend or daughter for my parents, as well as constantly cancelling on my friends. No – I am not trying to have a pity party. It is the honest truth. Fibromyalgia has imposed boundaries on how much I can do, and for now, I have to respect that until I find a solution. I have tried pushing past those boundaries, and lets just say that didn’t go so well. I wanted SO BAD to have the open house to see everyone, attend my best friend’s theater production because that is WHO I AM and fly to Texas to see my sister graduate! I want to still be at my dream job as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, with my boyfriend, my second family, and all of the show casts. I want to see those guests light up after watching our show or meeting the characters or creating magical moments. I worked my entire life for that and fought to have an unconventional career because that was my passion. I fought SO HARD, but in the end, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life and walk away from that dream job. It stings now when my dad wears one of his many Disney t-shirts and hats because he is my biggest cheerleader, and he can’t really brag that his daughter works at Disney anymore. I feel like I let my father down. When I wear a jacket from one of the Disney shows that I worked on or see people who don’t know I have stepped away from that role, it is just so hard and stings when people ask about the job I no longer do. More on that later. BUT I am grateful that I was able to live out that dream at all and end up meeting my boyfriend in the process. I love my family and friends. I want to bless them and shower them with love, kindness and gifts. I just love blessing people and seeing people happy. I am a sentimental gift giving kind of girl. I know – random tangent. I want to earn my own money. I want to work. I want to have a busy schedule and be productive. I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE asking for money from my parents or Philip, but they are always willing to help because that is the type of people they are, and I am in a desperate situation. I don’t know if I can ever pay them back. I don’t take their kindness for granted. I remember being happy getting a job at Disney because it meant that one day I would have the means to spoil my parents and one day take my Dad on that trip to Hawaii that he has never been on or a Disney Cruise to Alaska (obviously my mom would come too – my dad is the only one in our family who hasn’t been to Hawaii – no my mom and I didnt go to Hawaii without him either lol). Now I don’t think I will ever get to do that. Another upcoming blog will be about marriage. I am constantly thinking about my boyfriend and marriage. Why? Well proposing and marriage is already a nerve-racking commitment as it is. This boyfriend of mine would also be committing to a lifetime with a woman who will have serious medical conditions until her dying day, which is a HUGE undertaking and commitment physically, mentally, and financially for him. I know without a doubt he loves me and is so patient and understanding with all of it. But that is a LOT OF COMMITMENT for a man. Honestly, in my insecurity at times, I fear I may never hear those wedding bells or wear the shiny ring that symbolizes such a major commitment. I am a girl my dear readers – we have had wedding on the brain since we could think. But there is no sense in worrying about that now. I have an amazing boyfriend of almost four years (yes he has put up with me for that long lol), my puppies, and most importantly my parents who have literally endured it all and still love me. Thank you for that. Well folks – this has definitely been more of an emotional post than I thought. I may or may not have had silent tears leak out my eye balls. Sometimes my heart just starts talking and will keep talking until it is finished. The next post will be less serious, I promise. Pinky swear. Thank you for reading! It means more to me than you know. This blog allows me to connect to people from the comfort and safety of my own home and PJs.
-The Dramatic Ginger