So, Roughly 9 months to the day since my hip replacement, I took off my last patch.
Since 2009 there’s not been a period where I’ve not been on some form of opiate, be it tablet/patch/liquid. I decided pretty soon after I had my right hip replaced last year that as soon as I could, I was going to get off the opiates. By September last year i was off long acting morphine tablets, and it’s taken me since then to get off patches. Granted I’ve dislocated my shoulder and had major issues with some other joints in between, and it’s a lot harder to reduce patches because the doses linger in your system for longer so once you take off one patch, you still technically get that dose for about 12 hours afterwards. You also can only reduce them in bigger drops. Fentanyl patches come in 100, 75, 50, 25 and 12mcg/hr patches. So you have to do it much slower than you do with MST/Zomorph which I did in drops of ten a week/ten days.
I don’t think people realise just how much strong painkillers can mess with so many of your day to day activities. I didn’t realise until I was off Zomorph just how tired it had made me. I noticed I was able to stay more alert during the day and didn’t need to nap for as long as I had or as often. I decided in March though that the time was right to start reducing my patch. And although it took me longer than anticipated, it was amazing when I took my last patch off. This time last year I was on 100mcg/hr of fentanyl, 60mg of Zomorph twice a day and was taking anything between 5-20mgs of oramorph every 4 hours. It soon adds up and makes you feel rather dopey after a while! Now I’m taking between 10-20mg of oramorph at night and if I’m in pain during the day. It’s nothing in comparison and it’s a lot easier to get off oramorph than long acting painkillers because they don’t linger in your body as long.
I’m chuffed pink that I’ve finally managed it though, it’s a big deal for me and it’s taken me a long time and a lot of pain to get to this point.
This is a day of the life of Vicky in meds. I take 6 salbutamol nebulisers, which is equivalent to 30mg of salbutamol. That’s not with the extra ones I need. 4 Atrovent .500mcg nebs, 2 puffs of Seretide 500 twice a day, 10mg of Oramorph twice a day, 1 NaCl neb twice a day, 4mls of Bupivicaine .25% nebulised twice a day, Ondansetron 4mg melt at night, GlucoTabs for hypos, generally about 6am then all the tablets I take aswell. I wouldn’t put things like this up, but I was reading earlier about someone saying they had really severe asthma and had been in hospital with a tube down their throat “so many times I’ve lost count.” But when I ask what meds they take, I get “I take two inhalers. they’re blue. One says salamol and one says ventolin” It makes me wonder how different people perceive their asthma. I know mine’s severe, but I wouldn’t say that it’s to the point of being life threatening. I know some others think otherwise, but I’ve been lucky with my asthma. Yes, I’ve been to ICU, but apart from a fair bit of NIV (Non-Invasive Ventilation) I’ve never been intubated. So am I severe? I know friends who are attached to a pump 24hrs a day, and have been intubated a lot for their asthma. But at the same time, with asthma comes other things. The side effects of the medications we take, can sometimes be worse than the condition itself. Because of steroids for my asthma, I needed my hip replaced. Because of that I’m now on a lot of painkillers, take calcium and am soon going to be starting a monthly IV medication for bone protection to stop my other hip getting any worse. I still walk with crutches and there’s days I can’t get out of bed. But I’m lucky. I have a fantastic team of Dr’s, Nurses and everyone else involved in my care who look after me. I have an amazing support network of family and friends. Even though my family don’t live near, my friends make up for that. And my family are always there for me, to ring at 4am, or to fly the whole way here from Tenerife because I’m scared. So yea, I take a lot of medication, and things can be shit. But the way I look at it? I’m alive, and I’m happy. And I’ll take happiness any day, even if that means taking enough pills to make me rattle.
Keep smiling folks, there’s always someone who cares.