A couple of weeks ago, I wrote here on the blog about how I’ve been living (some days, just existing) with chronic pain. The pain specialist I saw prescribed a medication to determine if the pain is neurological. The good news is, the meds have kicked in. The bad news is—you guessed it—the meds have kicked in.
The first dose left me slightly nauseated and a little dizzy, so I responded to the cues and went to bed early. When I awoke the next morning, a medicine-head haze settled over me, and I continued to be cautious during physical activity throughout the day. I took another dose at bedtime.
Day two, I woke up without back pain. The doctor had mentioned that my back soreness was likely related to the nerve issue, but I had been skeptical.
Guy with the medical degrees and years of experience treating individuals with pain complications…1.
Loud-mouthed, know-it-all, Google-searching, time-draining patient….0.
As I began my daily routine that second day, something didn’t seem right. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I greeted the kids as they awoke, began packing school lunches, and fielded Baby #4’s demands for juice, milk, grapes, going pantless, etc…
It was then I realized my chest was not nearly as sore as it had been. As I poked around my rib cage, I was still tender and uncomfortable, but not like before. A wave of optimism washed over me.
“Look outside!” Baby #2 said excitedly. “I think there are 15 deer in the field.”
As all of the children hustled to the back windows, I did what any normal mother would do: I broke into a rather loud and proud rendition of The Sound of Music’s “Do-Re-Mi.”
“Doe, a deer, a female deer….”
It was only as I began the third verse that I realized the kids were not impressed with my vocal talent or my dance moves. Not even my Julie Andrews, wide-armed spinning was garnering praise. Each of the kids was staring at me, silent and potentially concerned.
“Mommy,” Baby #3 asked, “did you have beer with breakfast?”
I laughed, rather manically. “No, I did not. I just feel great. Like, really great! Like, really, really–”
“Great,” he finished as he shook his head.
I was full of energy, full of life, full of vigor, and full of medication.
As the day wore on, I swung on a pendulum between witty zingers and word-finding difficulties. I moved between impulsively blurting out my thoughts (however random) to hesitating to answer direct questions. At times I felt sluggish; at others, exuberant.
In other words…drunk.
And it didn’t stop there. Since I began taking this medication, I have:
- Had major giggle fits, when even my kids are telling me to shut up,
- Had losses of appetite and then periods of binge eating snack food,
- Thought my lipstick looked sexy when it was smeared across my face,
- Danced to Rob Base in my leggings and Uggs at a party,
- Left my phone in the fridge multiple times and had to dial my own number to locate it,
- Argued about Donald Duck’s voice and pronunciation with a three year old,
- Attended Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws despite the obvious risks, and
- Dared to Black Friday shop.
This medication was causing me some mental fuzziness but there were two trade-offs to that. One was I became the life of the party wherever I was. The other was the true fact that, as the week had gone on, there was a significant decrease in the pain I was experiencing. The doctor’s assertion that the majority of my issue was related to nerve damage appeared to be correct.
When I was a pill away from being through the doctor’s samples, I recognized I would need to have the prescription he had given me filled. I marched myself into the pharmacy and handed it over.
“Hmmmm,” said the woman at the register.
“It isn’t a narcotic,” I nervously told her, “even though it makes me seem a little loopy.” I twirled a finger in the air in front of my ear.
“This will need prior approval in order to be filled,” she said, without even cracking a smile at my hilariousness.
“But it’s Sunday, and I need this filled for tomorrow night. The doctor didn’t say anything about needing authorization.”
Maybe it was my new-found air of spontaneous fun that brought the pharmacist over, or the sudden panic in my voice when I said “My suspicion is that going cold turkey with this stuff is going to be a bad thing.”
The pharmacist explained that it was likely the doctor didn’t know the prescription would need prior authorization.
“Well, tomorrow is Monday. How long will it take to have the prescription filled?”
She shifted her weight a bit from one foot to another. “It depends on your insurance company. It can take up to 5 days.”
We both waited a minute while that statement made its way through the medicinal fog surrounding my brain to hit my processing center.
“Five days?! But it will not only be completely out of my system by then, but I will also be back to square one with the pain!”
I won’t bore you with the details of the colorful language that then lit up the health and beauty department of my local Target store. Just believe me that the fear and loathing of having to experience the physical torment of the past few months all over again inspired a torrent of crudeness to spew from my mouth. In a tip of the hat to the pharmacist, I suspect she wasn’t witnessing a tirade against this bureaucratic injustice for the first time. She remained calm, smiled sympathetically, and did not call store security.
“I know, I know,” she replied, “but we can sell you some pills to hold you over.”
Here is the sweet irony, folks: she was able to do just that. So the same medicine that I need authorization in the name of safety and reason to purchase, I am actually able to purchase outright. Yes, that means without my insurance’s prescription plan, so I pay a lot per pill, but I can still buy them.
That was Sunday, and I bought five pills. I went back to the pharmacy on Tuesday and bought six more. Now I have paid double my copay for eleven pills, which brings me to $50, and it is Thursday morning. That copay, by the way, is from a prescription enrollment plan that the DOCTOR gave me. I have yet to learn how much the insurance company expects me to pay for a 30 day supply.
The doctor’s office submitted the authorization earlier this week, but the insurance company hasn’t “processed” it yet. I will need to go back to the pharmacy today to purchase more pills out of pocket before 7:00 PM if my paperwork isn’t pushed through by then. If I wasn’t so dazed and confused right now, I’d be furious.
I meet with the doctor next week, and the likely result of that appointment will be me agreeing to a nerve block implantation underneath my ribs. I certainly do not want to continue taking this medication considering how it impairs my functionality. I can’t afford to take it, anyway, with how the system is set up. Maybe I’ll be able to find another way to alleviate the pain and still be on the hunt for a good time.
As long as I avoid singing karaoke, I think all of us will be okay.