It doesn’t take much.
A week ago, I was in Hawaii with my best friend, enjoying the sun, the beach and each other’s company. The flight home was a red eye, and I did not think to set an alarm or prepare in anyway for the fact that my medications, taken diligently every single night at bed time, would be required, regardless that I would not be sleeping. I carry my medication with me on all planes, in case of an emergency or a lost suitcase, but I did not think of the feeling of emergency that would be 48 hours without my fibromyalgia, hashimoto’s, migraine and anxiety medications.
After my 24 hour trip home, meds safely in my carry on, I proceeded to collapse into bed of exhaustion, thereby missing my second doses of medication. The next morning, I rose early, to get to work after a week away, without a thought to the medications, as morning is not medication time in my world. I was happy to be at work and functioning at a normal level, when I became mildly dizzy. Deciding it must be hunger, and jet lag, I took a late lunch break. This did nothing to assuage my dizziness and lightheadedness. I am sure I am not the only chronic illness sufferer who begins to feel a wave of panic when their bodies suddenly take over their brains. After work, I walked to the train, realizing that I was having trouble finding my footing. Vertigo and anxiety do not make good bedfellows and I felt the nausea and fear take over. I sat through the train ride, willing myself to function, willing my vision to clear and my mind to resume normal capacity, when it occurred to me that I had gone cold turkey, unwittingly, for 52 hours, off Cymbalta, Amytriptaline, Synthroid, and my various supplements, none of which is safe. Every medication I consume requires a doctor-supervised weaning, not an immediate stoppage. I was entering withdrawal from medications I had no desire to stop taking. By the time the train arrived at my stop an hour later, I was confused, disoriented, nauseated, panicked and absolutely in no condition to drive. I called my husband, who came to take me home, and immediately took all the chemicals and synthetic hormones that my body needs to function at a level even remotely similar to what a healthy person’s is naturally. After a few hours, my brain began to de-fog, my head steadied, my panic subsided. I felt better.
But it doesn’t take much.
A few days later, I feel my depression like a worn housecoat; I feel the pain in my joints; I feel the fatigue which gnaws at me; I see a blur in my vision. I am better, but not. I am back to the beginning, and know it will be days, if not weeks, before I regain the sense of calm and health that have taken years and medications to achieve. And I cannot be angry with my flawed body, as I had the keys to avoid this in my bag. I took for granted the feeling of wellness provided by my pharmaceuticals and my learned doctors, and pushed myself into a setback.
And clearly, it doesn’t take much.