Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mother's Little Helper

This is going to be a very personal story that I'm going to tell you.  I tell it as a cautionary tale in the hopes that what I've been going through will help at least one person.  You may wonder what this has to do with getting the most from your money and your life but I think that you will understand as I share my journey through prescription meds and the effect they have had on my life.

It all began when I was going through a very painful divorce from my favorite ex husband way back in 1994.  The dark ages.  A very kind and concerned doctor was worried about the grief that I was going through and the fact that I was just not handling it very well, so he prescribed Klonopin for me.  It was magic for my state of mind and helped pull me out of that crazy time.  And I continued taking it for 18 years.

One of my goals for retirement was to leave Klonopin behind with my old life, so I sought out the help from a therapist and my current physician.  They worked out a tapering schedule between them and I've been doing the work, so if you notice that I have been grumpy...well, I have been.  I feel that I need to make this very clear that these prescription drugs are not like cocaine or heroin, where you detox and feel really crappy for several days, but that if you do not taper properly, you can actually die!!  And the taper takes a long time, so you have to be committed.  And it has been rough.

When I first began taking Klonopin, one of the first side effects was a mean gnawing in my stomach that felt like hunger, but wasn't because I had just eaten, but could only be relieved by eating.  I mentioned this to my doctor at the time and he was not concerned.  So I ate to sooth my stomach and you can probably guess where this is going.  I began to quickly gain weight (50 pounds the first year) and get really depressed.  More drugs.

Then I got bad heartburn.  I'd never been troubled with heartburn before and if I should have so much as a touch, I knew that I was eating the wrong foods and too much, so would scale back and that would be that, but I was now feeding the wild animal in my stomach and couldn't stop and didn't really care.  More drugs.

The thing about the Prilosec for heartburn was that it worked beautifully and I became addicted to not having heartburn.  Insurance paid for this so I continued on blissfully until insurance quit paying for it.  I was shocked!! at the cost, so tried to taper off.  Talk about your beast!!  My stomach is so out of whack from years of Prilosec that within 26 hours of not taking it I'm in real agony.  I've heard that getting off of that stuff is next to impossible.  I believe it, but when I'm cooled off after the Klonopin taper I'm going to go after it next.

As you read this I hope that you realize that I am not really a drug fiend but someone who didn't educate herself about the drugs I was being prescribed and didn't question why I was being given them and for how long I should take them.  Those days have changed for me and I hope for you, too.  We have to be our own patient advocate when we go to the doctor and if you feel yours doesn't have time to really inform you, then find a new doctor.  There's lots of them out there, for crying out loud.

In our current economic climate, health care and prescriptions are horribly expensive, so it really pays to shop around and get the best deal - health wise and financially.  We don't want to be like the sad people who have to choose between cat food for dinner, prescriptions or having the heat on during a cold snap.

Me??  That bad old beast has come back to haunt my stomach, not wanting to give up it's hold on me.  It has not been fun but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I hope this helps.

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