Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Full Story

JS's comment yesterday made me realize that I never actually said what exactly happened to me. Probably because it's kind of hard to articulate, and I don't fully understand it myself. My pain had been getting steadily worse for several days, and when I got up Saturday it just seemed so entirely unbearable that I started having all those terrible thoughts I used to have about what life would mean to be hurting like this forever. Haven't felt like that in a long time, but it all came back really quickly.

So, I pulled out the stash of Vicodin left over from my wisdom tooth surgery and swallowed just about the entire bottle. Not exactly sure how many pills—more than 10 and less than 20. And I'm not exactly sure what my intention was; I remember thinking that I just wanted to sleep that awful day away and wake up when I felt better. But I did want to wake up.

After a couple of hours, my dad called. I missed it because I was slipping in and out of sleep, but happened to look at my phone and see his name. By this point, I was getting scared. I called him back and told him what happened. He hung up to call 911 and within ten minutes, the paramedics were there.

My time in the hospital was a blur. The ICU was exhausting - no privacy and no quiet, since the rooms aren't really rooms, and are only separated from the main part of the floor by curtains. There were nurses coming in every five minutes to check vitals, draw blood, help me pee (because they were IV-ing gallons of fluids to flush my kidneys...), and lecture me about how everything would be all right and how much I scared everyone. I had needles everywhere, sticky EKG thingies stuck all over my chest and stomach, compression stockings around my calves, and got shots of Heparin in my stomach twice a day to prevent clotting.

I tried to tell everyone what my thinking had been, that I wasn't really trying to hurt myself—and I don't think I was—but of course no one really took me seriously and I classified as a suicide attempt and put on watch. I had a "sitter" assigned to me—that's literally a person who got hired to sit in my room 24 hours a day, even when my parents were there. They removed all trash cans, plastic bags, tables, and anything with sharp edges from the room. It was humbling and mortifying and exhausting. Felt like I was outside myself, watching this happen to someone else.

A psychiatrist came in to evaluate me and determined, thank God, that they didn't need to put me on a 3-day psychiatric hold. So I got to go home as soon as they determined I was medically stable and that my liver wasn't going to disintegrate from the acetaminophen. It took a few days for the horrible nausea to subside, and for my legs to feel stable enough to hold me up. The whole episode seemed to set off another migraine, which has been under control with ibuprofen (imagine that, they wouldn't give me Tylenol...) but it still just won't go away.

I don't really have the energy to fill in everything that has happened since I got home. Basically my parents are here, driving me insane, insisting on accompanying me to all the appointments we made this week, talking about me like my life isn't my own anymore, and generally making me feel like I'm stuck in a tiny glass bubble.

I feel dumb. It was so impulsive. The most impulsive thing I've ever done. I don't want people to think I'm crazy. I'm even nervous about writing about it here, but didn't want to keep everyone in the dark.

I'll write more soon about the appointments I had this week, the good and the bad, and where I'm going to go from here. School starts in a week, and at the moment I'm planning to be there.


  1. Ooof, chronic pain is the worst. Tangentially-- my ortho gives oxy sans tylenol, bc when patients are overwhelmed w pain taking extra oxy won't kill you but tylenol will. I'm glad you were able to call your dad and tht you are ok, an i really hope that your pain issues can be better managed soon. I just had surgery that fixed an imobilizing level of pain & oh man, the relied. Chronic pain is so insidious- have you thought at all abt alternative medicine? I'm sure you are way zonked, but i hope this can maybe get you to someone who can help w the pain.

    1. so glad the surgery helped you! I've been told it's probably not an option for me, given the location/nature of the pain, but I may start asking more questions about that. Also looking into things like nerve blocks and CNS drugs. Problem is my pain is primarily pelvic, which means that no one wants to go near it except gyns, but the gyns don't know much about pain mechanisms. The last doctor felt very strongly that I should go back on some type of neuropathic med like lyrica, but of course I'm too freaked out about gaining weight to consider it. Hard to describe that internal conflict: pain that would make me desperate enough to try anything versus the ongoing intense fear of weight gain. Also, I may be in denial but I don't think we've really exhausted all the possible differential medical causes for the pain, and I'm not fully convinced that we can just throw up our hands and assume it's intractable nerve pain just yet. I suppose the only silver lining of all this is that everyone - my parents, doctors, psych, etc. - are taking the pain very, very seriously and understand the extent to which I am not functioning with it. Thanks as always for your kind words.

    2. Yeah, I've no idea what your pain situation is, but I mentioned the surgery mostly to say-- wow, pain was affecting my life in sooo many ways that I didn't realize until it went away. I really hope you can have that experience of relief sometime soon.

      I get the reluctance to try things like lyrica et al, but really-- you know that you can't get well/be yourself at all if you're in this level of desperation inducing pain all the time. And while you feel like you couldn't be yourself at a marginally higher weight, I have to say that's probably just not true. What about tramadol? Totally different class [works on serotonin as well as pain receptors, vague mechanism of action on serotonin, NE, opoid receptors, not a controlled substance, no likely to cause addictions].

      And I agree- the assumption of intractable nerve pain is, IMO, never a good idea. I mean how can you, as a young person especially, feel okay with that as an answer? I'm glad your docs are taking your pain seriously.

      Be well, and good luck with your upcoming appointments.

  2. You are not crazy, and I think it's totally plausible that someone suffering from chronic, oppressive pain would do something like that without suicidal intent. I can imagine that dealing with the medical aspect of that incident would have been stressful enough without also fielding so much suspicion about your motives. I am so sorry for every aspect of what you had to go through. Hang in there, things WILL get better, and know that you have tons of support during the process.