25 April 2012

Rocks and Hard Places

My rheumatologist is a genuinely funny man. Hes decided to scrap the drug therapies we were trying to go in an entirely different route. He knows I don't like taking drugs so when I asked him, "And what are the potential side effects to this drug vs. the potential benefits?" He was ready. After a long pause and with a pensive look on his face he said; "Side effects? You mean besides the third leg you'll sprout and the way your skin turns green? Nothing that wouldn't seem normal to you. You *are* from California, right? Yeah anything that happens shouldn't alarm you."

His theory is that my pain isn't caused as much by my arthritis as it is by nerve damage that decades of untreated pernicious anemia has caused. He wants to try a drug that works by disrupting my neurons abilities to deliver pain messages. I am becoming so sedentary I am willing to try anything that will get me back into life. Less pain? I am in. Let the disruption begin!

The downsides to the medication are being drowsy. Chin on chest snoring drowsy. Stop moving, fall asleep drowsy. I'm talking take two shots of Revv coffee, several B-complex supplements and a B12 shot and still fall asleep if you stop moving kind of drowsy. He told me it would take a couple weeks to get acclimated. I take one pill at night before bed. When I can do that and remain conscious, I'll add a second pill during the day. I am still on the one pill regimen. Last night I was in bed by 10pm and didn't rouse until 8am. Getting sleep is a blessing and that alone is enough to help me feel better. I haven't slept like that in years.

I am finding that the drug works. I have been able to get out and accomplish some things. The pain is letting up and that is wonderful. I have a dilemma though. Unfortunately drowsiness is not the only potential side effect. As the pain decreases I am noticing depression is on the rise. I am fighting it with all my being but it's there. It's here. It's everywhere. It's trying to smother me. Not all the time, it comes in waves. One moment I am right as rain and the next I am in that place where I question my faith, the meaning of life, whether God exists. If He does, do I want anything to do with Him? I am certain that hope is a four letter word. Right now they are fleeting moments of depression. If the moments increase to hours... then I am in trouble. I am still in the trial period of seeing if I can tolerate the drug...but it hasn't escaped my notice that I may have to make a really difficult choice.

Live with pain or choose to be pain free and depressed....

Counseling yourself isn't as easy as counseling others. What would I tell someone else in these circumstances? Probably to wait a bit and see if things even out and if they don't to keep looking for ways to manage the pain. If pain is the price you pay to keep faith and hope alive, so be it. Easy words to say....when the pain isn't yours.

I read Psalm 71 today. I may read it over several times before this day is through.

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