Saturday, July 2, 2011

Retirement Medications - No Longer Vicodin Virgin

News flash! I am no longer a Vicodin Virgin. I think every one in my circle of friends and relations has taken that pain management medication at some point, but until yesterday, I had not.

My back and neck had been bothering me off and on lately. I attributed it to all the hefting and hauling of stuff from the upper floors to the basement in preparation for putting the house on the market. The house was finally listed on Thursday, and that’s the day my body gave out. It’s as if it knew all the work was done and it was finally okay to fall apart.

With the holiday weekend coming up, I didn’t want to risk a visit to an ER if things didn’t improve. I’ve spent enough holidays there with friends and family members. My own doctor was taking a long weekend, so I saw another doctor in his practice. She diagnosed severe muscle spasms, said she could actually see the swelling in my neck area on the right side. I left with prescriptions for hydrocodon and acetaminophen (generic of Vicodin) and cyclobenzaprine (generic of Flexeril.)

Since I’d never taken either of these medications before, I decided to carefully read the paperwork that came with them. By the time I finished, I concluded that I might as well spend the next few days in bed.

The medication for my muscle spasm advised me: “If your condition does not improve in 2-3 weeks, contact your doctor.” I have news for them. If my condition doesn’t improve in 2-3 days I will have killed myself or I’ll be in jail for attempting to kill someone else.

I noticed that both meds list drowsiness and dizziness as side effects. What they really mean is you are so tired you sleep most of the day. And night. This is actually a good thing. My neck and back pain were so severe that I couldn’t find a position that would enable me to sleep, so I can use a few days rest. As for the dizziness, have you ever been on the Tilt-A-Whirl at an amusement park? If you remember how you felt when you first stepped off that ride, you know how you feel on these meds. So much for driving.

Both meds indicate constipation among the possible side effects. I suppose if it’s strong enough to stop the spasm in my back muscle it could pretty much shut down all the muscle activity in the body. But wouldn’t that lead to diarrhea? I decided I don’t really want to know.

Both also warn: “Don’t… do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.” There’s not a heck of lot that I do that doesn’t require alertness. Even this post, for example, requires me to coordinate my fingers on the keyboard so I hit the right letters. Which pretty much gets me back to sleeping. Or maybe watching TV.

Hydrocodon can cause nausea. Once again, I’m befuddled. My pain was so severe at one point that I actually thought I was going to throw up. I was looking forward to having the pain medication help me get rid of that symptom, not cause it.

Cyclobenzaprine notes dry mouth as a possible side effect. They should have warned that you’ll get so thirsty you’d fight the dog to drink out of the toilet, if you had a dog.

My favorite part of this reading material is the long list of possible drug interactions. I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that I can’t have wine while I’m taking this stuff. You can learn a lot by reading about the drugs that are contraindicated. I had no idea there was a class of drugs called “narcotic antagonists.” What does that mean? Does morphine smack acetaminophen in the face and taunt: “C’mon, sissy pants. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m going upstairs to take my evening dose of both meds and then I’m going to bed. Again. But first I’m going to put a large pitcher of water on the night table.

No comments: