The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

Aug 28, 2017 by

The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

There is an opioid crisis in America. Since June of 2016, I’ve been plagued by it. I was hurt after a visit to a chiropractor in Mesquite, Texas May 13, 2016. My primary care physician put me on hydrocodone in mid-June 2016 and I was on either it or Percocet, or Percocet with fentanyl patches, until late April 2017.

That stretch of time messed with my brain. A recent CT scan shows no physical damage to my brain, but until this past week, my sleep pattern was totally messed up. 

What fixed it?

The jury is still out, but it’s a combination of 100 MGs of Trokendi and 3600 MGs per day of Gabapentin. What I finally had to do was take 1:1:2 and 2 of 6– MGs of Gabapentin a day in order to not sleep 15 hours or more a day. And this past week I finally reached the sustained dose of Trokendi. It took four weeks to reach it having done seven days of 25, seven more of 50, and seven more of 75 Mgs, respectively.

Opioids Are Dangerous

Make no mistake about it, opioids are dangerous. I am one of the rare ones who find the way to get off them. There are scores of people one can read about who find themselves on heroin after using prescription opioids. Then there are those who run out of med and want more and do wild things like smash their hands with hammers so they need medical attention and more opioids to relieve the pain.

Dr. Britt Daniel of Medical City of Dallas

I went to see Dr. Britt Daniel earlier this month. He’s a neurologist and the one who put me on Trokendi and put me on the maximum legal amount of Gabapentin per day.

Within the first five minutes of talking to him, Dr. Daniel said I suffered from a condition he calls Medication Overuse Headache.

It’s the International Classification of Headache III. The old name for it was Rebound Headache. It is a syndrome related to overrating. Dr. Daniel’s paper says that 80-90 percent of new patients seen in specialty headache clinics have MOH.

MOH may come from overtreating with simple pain killers like caffeine, Tylenol or Advil, opioid narcotics, pain killers with barbiturates, or triptans. Patients typically rotate drugs and take many drugs at the same time that may cause MOH. After awhile, the pre-existing headache problem, which is usually migraine, becomes transformed from and intermittent to chronic headache problem. It is like what happens to the person who drinks coffee every day and then gets a headache when they don’t. They the brain becomes sensitizes to these drugs repeat dosing cause neurologist-inflamatorry chemicals to be released in the brain which keeps the headache going.

This is what has been happening with me the past couple of months.

I’ve been working to lose weight so I’ve been cutting all kinds of things from my diet. And I’ve cut the meds. So my body was going nuts trying to figure out where everything had gone at one time. And I spiraled downward with headaches galore.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel, I think, praise God, I’m finally on the right track.

 

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Finding Water

Aug 28, 2017 by

Finding Water

I’m in Week Seven of Julia Cameron’s book, Finding Water.

Julia Cameron’s Finding Water.

This makes 19-straight weeks of following in her teachings, coupled with an equally invigorating study of my NIV Bible. Today I’m on the last pages of a second $0.50 college rule Walmart notebook. In fact, Chandler, my daughter, about fell over last week when I showed her the two-foot high stack of them in my closet.  Every three weeks now, I fill a notebook with handwritten Morning Pages. It’s the best form of prayer and therapy I’ve encountered in almost 52 years.

Friday

Friday was a crummy day and if it weren’t for my growing faith in God–thanks to Julia Cameron’s teachings, my daily study, and the confidence I’ve been building because of my Morning Pages, my weekly artist’s dates, and daily walks, (ones that have been trimmed the past month for medical reasons and the oppressive Texas heat) I’d probably be on a balcony somewhere ready and willing to jump.

Transportation issues presented themselves. Issues with a video project popped up. Issues with my ex reared their ugly head. Another video and web project presented issues. And worst of all, the book project with SMU, the one I’ve worked so hard on since 2014, well, I was not one of the 14 selected to go to New York in November.

And That’s Okay

All off it. It’s okay. At some point, mechanics will figure out what’s wrong with my car. There are always difficulties when you shoot a video project. You work them one or two at a time. They get solved and then you fix the next two or three that come along until the project is complete. Website and video editing problems you deal with. You use your creativity and you fix.

The Writer’s Path at SMU

I am grateful for what I’ve learned through the Writer’s Path at SMU. I would not trade the experience for anything. It’s honed my writing. The past year and a half I’ve been wigged out on opioids.

I am happy for the 14 authors selected. Julia Cameron teaches us in Finding Water to celebrate the accomplishment of other artists. They worked hard. I’ve worked hard, too. And now I’m free to follow my own path.

That’s what I’m going to do on my book, too. I don’t have to worry the next few months how I’m going to pay for a trip to New York in November. Things are tight enough around here as they are. I can now get into the feel of my book now that the opioids are having less of an effect on my brain. I can query to my heart’s desire. My brain is in a different place than it was in late June and throughout July. God wanted it that way. You can read my post from last night to read just how. Again, this is okay. God has me on a different path to getting published.

Even the sermon Sunday spoke to this very topic. With God, nothing is impossible. He has a plan. There was a reason I got hurt. There was a reason it took so long for me to get back on my feet and off the pain meds. There was a reason for all the bad things that happened Friday. I believe that. And most of all, I am okay with it. All of it.

And that’s what puts me further ahead than many.

dc.

 

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Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry

Aug 24, 2017 by

Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry.

 

I am in Week Six of Julia Cameron’s Finding Water. Now 18 weeks into her writings, she professes somewhere along the way that we do not celebrate enough the work of other artists who are brave enough to be themselves. I must do that here with the work of Ólafur Arnalds and a piece called 1440.

The piece is sublime, intoxicating, and contrite, all in the course of it’s six-minute fifty-six-second life.

I breathe, I whisper, I cry, I dream, I remember, I pray, I hope, I long for what was and what still will be in this song’s life.

I know nothing of his intent in writing this piece, but the Piano Channel of Apple TV plays it once or twice daily of late and when I hear it, I stop what I’m doing and close my eyes and enter the world of the music.

This is what music is made for, to take us somewhere. To our own place. Not the one the composer designed, but to the place only we can share with God. And that’s what happens when I am enjoined with the sounds of this piece.

The song is available on iTunes.

Here’s one video interpretation. I’m not sure of the video’s point. I can’t determine the storyline but the work is good.

Regardless, a salute to Ólafur Arnalds for this fine song. It has a special place in my heart. Thank you.

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Test Message

Aug 22, 2017 by

This is Ronald Reagan, I have just ordered the launching of all our ICBM missiles at Russia. The countdown begins in 30 seconds. That is all.

 

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Last Friday of July 2017

Jul 28, 2017 by

It’s the last Friday of July 2017.

The eighth month of the year is upon us. Where did the first seven go?

Sunset over Mesquite, Texas, July 27, 2017.

Last night three GOP senators killed a chance to repeal Obamacare. My premium is $821.55 a month already. It will be higher next year.

My neurosurgeon wants to send me to a neurologist. He made a referral Wednesday. Thursday I talked to Dr. Duc Tran’s office. They don’t take my “wonderful” Obamacare HMO that all these wonderful Americans who love Obamacare so much don’t want to change.

Thanks for that, Sen. John McCain. I’ll start sending you and your to partners in shame my monthly bills. You probably won’t be able to afford it or pay it either.

Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci is not an unusual presence from what I have experienced in Washington politics. People like him are the reason politics has such a bad name. There are operatives like him on both sides. If they’re not telling you to F off, you can tell they’re thinking it.

My Friend Jeff Sessions

The president this week has been on a Scaramucci-style attack on my friend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump, this action is no dumber than the Scaramucci rant to The New Yorker.

Jeff Sessions is a good and honorable man. There should be more like him in your organization and none like Mr. Scaramucci.

The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club

I turn in my first 15 pages and synopsis of my book to the SMU program by noon on Monday. Whether I get selected as an author to go to NYC in November at this point doesn’t matter to me. I’ve learned so much about myself, my writing, and who I am and want to be more like from this experience. Yes, I want to have my books published. But I want to do it the right way, too. When my work is ready for the world. If that’s not now, I’ll keep working on it.

My Leg Pain

My leg pain is back this past week and a half. Almost like I don’t even have the pain stimulator working in my spinal cavity. I made a request three days ago now to go in and have it retuned but the person from Abbott has yet to contact me. The gizmo is set to 15 right now. It was originally set to 11. It hurts just as much now as it did before I got it put in. I’m just not going to take the meds again. My neurosurgeon suggested going back on Gabbapentin, but I was once at 900 mgs per day and wasn’t getting any relief, so I’m not going to start that again. Plus it made me want to sleep again all the time. I’m doing that enough because of the erratic sleep schedule. So, no thanks.

Grateful List

Each day I add a little bit to a list I keep of the things I’m grateful for. There are now more than 600 items. This list keeps me focused on what’s going right in my world instead of letting all the bad and wrong that’s going on throughout the world consume my heart. Someone asked me on Facebook this morning if I thought someone like Scaramucci would ever understand what an ugly person he really is. Not for me to worry about but I have my doubts.

Obamacare has become something of a Democratic entitlement. Republicans should have seen that. Once you’re giving something away to the populace, you can almost never put that Jennie in the bottle.

A friend of mine repeats to me often that “Insurance companies rule the world.” It’d be interesting to know how much Blue Cross Blue Shield and all the others have given to members on either side of the aisle. But that would require reporters doing reporting instead of chasing phantom stories about the Russians.

Why don’t you guys leave that to me in my book and focus on real news for a change? Yeah, I didn’t think you’d be willing to do that either….

 

 

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Overcoming 10.5 Months of Opioids is Not Easy

Jul 17, 2017 by

Overcoming 10.5 Months of Opioids is Not Easy

As a result of a chiropractic injury, I spent 10.5 months on opioids and the results of having been off them for almost four months now still afflict me.

On Friday the 13th, May, 2016, I went to what was then an unlicensed chiropractor operating in Mesquite, Texas. I did not know this at the time of treatment. I went in complaining of upper back pain. The man noted that my SI joint was out, too, and said he was going to make adjustments to my upper, middle and lower back. The next day, I was in so much pain, I could not drive to my daughter’s mother’s house to take pictures of the twins in their prom dresses. I returned on Monday, May 16 thinking my SI was out again and the pain was from that. It was not. The problem was from the treatments to my lower back.

A few weeks later, barely able to walk more than 20 yards without being in excruciating pain that required me to stop walking, I went to my PCP. She put me on hydrocodone and muscle relaxers. Nothing worked. I did PT. After three visits, the therapist said not to come back until after I’d had an epidural. This meant getting an MRI, seeing a spine surgeon, and a pain management doctor. The pain guy switched me off hydrocodone onto Nucynta. It didn’t work either. A month later I had a three-level laminectomy in my lower lumbar. This led to more meds and instead of stopping the pain, made it manifest in both legs, not just one.

My Sleep Cycle app graph from last night. After four months being off opioids, my brain is still affected.

My spine doctor wanted to do a fusion. But I also had a hernia he wanted repaired before he would operate again. In September 2016, I had two hernias fixed. Seeking a second opinion about spinal surgery, I went to a neurosurgeon who didn’t want me to have one and instead said we should test other options. This led to my being on Percocet and other meds.

Finally, in March of this year, the neurosurgeon put in a pain stimulator in my spinal column and buried a battery pack in my right hip.

In April, I took my last Percocet, having weaned from three per day to one-half.

It’s now mid-July and I’m still suffering the consequences of having been on mind-altering drugs for almost 11 months.

My sleep schedule is so erratic I have a hard time functioning. The Sleep Cycle app shows that my sleep is a mess. Naps are part of my day because I’m so tired constantly. Even with walking and a proper diet, I’m struggling to function.

I understand the need for opioids or pain-relieving drugs. The pain I’ve endured the past 14 months has been horrific. But the long-term impact of the meds is something I did not expect. I would like to be able to get a sound night of sleep. I would like to be fully functional again at normal hours of the day. But that’s not happening. When I saw my sleep doctor back in April he said it could take months for my brain to recalibrate. MONTHS. He was not kidding.

I have been walking in the mornings to get my brain used to seeing sunlight first thing in the day. By noon, most days, however, I am asleep again, sleeping more soundly than I did all night. This is a vicious cycle and I post this so that others can see the impact it can have.

I was lucky. I was determined to not become an addict of opioids. There are thousands of others who are not as strong-willed and who succumb to the need for meds. Some people are known to do dumb things so that doctors will be compelled to give them more—have you heard of these people who break bones in their hand with a hammer so they can get more opioids?

I cannot imagine getting to that point, but what I do know is what I continue to experience having been on these meds for so long. They have an impact on your mind that does not go away overnight. The opioid epidemic is real and it’s a problem that many people face.

And at this writing, I have yet to find an answer for the impact it has had on my brain.

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Zelda Fitzgerald’s Parents’ Graves–The Sayre Graves

Jul 15, 2017 by

Zelda Fitzgerald’s Parents’ Graves–The Sayre Graves

The graves of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s parents are in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama.

The grave site of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s parents and family members in Montgomery, AL.

They are marked as #28.

They are not easy to find unless you know what you’re looking for.

How To Find The Sayre Graves

Oakwood Cemetery section. How to find the Sayre graves, the parents of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.

Heading east on Upper Wetumpka Road in Montgomery, go past the Montgomery Police Department and down the hill toward Alabama Public Television and Paterson Field.

The last three entrances to the cemetery are important. The third one leads to Hank Williams’ grave on top of the hill.

The first one, St. Ann’s Street, is the entrance to the section leading to the Sayres.

Once you pull in at St. Ann’s, take the first left onto Stella Street. At the first right, turn north on Clarmont Ave. and go up the hill. The first right near the top of the hill is also Clarmont, but go straight another 20 or 30 yards. Then stop.

Off to your left, three rows in, follow the path of Clarmont to the west. You will see several tall and full trees, and there are two obelisk-like markers to the west in the next row of the Sayre resting place.

Once you are three rows deep, turn to your right and the Sayre site should be to your left.

Clearly marked at the front of the site is a memorial marker to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who are not buried there.

Photos of the Site

I’ve included photos of Minnie Sayre’s grave, as well as Anthony D. Sayre Sr’s resting spots. Minnie is buried on the far left and Judge Sayre is three graves to her right. Zelda’s brother Anthony Sayre Jr lies immediately to the left of the Judge.

Marker for F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in Montgomery, AL

The grave of Minnie M. Sayre, the mother of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Close up of the tombstone of Minnie M. Sayre, the mother of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, who was born in Montgomery, AL

The tomb of Judge Anthony D Sayre, the father of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, in Montgomery, AL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zelda, Almost Home

In June 2017, I made a short film about Zelda. The premise, what if Zelda returned to her hometown Montgomery as a ghost?

Thing is, the more I learned about Zelda and her haunts in Montgomery, the more it seems she actually does return to the city quite often.

July 24, 2017 will mark the 117th anniversary of her birth in the Capital City of Alabama.

Here is Zelda, Almost Home, available on YouTube. Music courtesy of Moby.

 

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