At 1am Thursday morning, someone posted tragic news to one of my CRPS support groups. Yet, another of my fellow sufferers succeeded in committing suicide. Several things ran through my brain. Could I have done more? Was he a victim of the war on opiates? Or was it something else.
This is the third time in 2 years, I’ve experienced a CRPS victim commit suicide. We are talking about a disease with a suicide rate of 95% or higher in the first 10 years of symptoms showing up. Sometimes, I have to remind myself it’s been 25 years, since my symptoms first reared their ugly head. I think I’m doing pretty well most of the time.
And as we all expressed our grief, an announcement was added regarding the suicide: they were on Gabapentin and they left a note. I complain about Lyrica a lot and my time on it. But Gabapentin was worse.
I started it full time – 900mgs a day in March 2017. I was tapered off in November 2017. I don’t remember much about those months and I was originally put on it, not for CRPS, but for an unexplained nerve pain in my lower legs. Mostly, I remember I cried a lot and wished I were dead a lot. Whenever one of my fellow sufferers decides to call it quits, I spend some time pondering; was it the pain, the hopelessness, or the meds?
I tolerate the opiates fairly well. But I didn’t handle the gabapentin well. Every day, I faced the possibility of committing suicide on it. And the scariest part, it wasn’t always a conscious decision. I was taken off the drug, when I was interrupted counting every prescription pill I was on. A full bottle of clonazepam (Klonopin), a more than half full bottle of gabapentin (Neurontin), a partial bottle of hydrocodone, and a partial bottle of butalbital/acetaminophen (Fioricet).
I can’t say in all certainty that I intended to take all those meds. But I think it’s likely, I can think of no other reason for me to count them out. There was enough… If I hadn’t been interrupted, I would probably be a statistic. I got lucky. The 60 tablets of .5mg clonazepam would have done the trick without the more than 45 gabapentin, 20 hydrocodone, and 15 Fioricet.
The incident disturbed me enough, that I wrote it down in my migraine/pain journal – including the amounts. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to suicide. Two years later, it still haunts me. The date was October 21, 2017. I actually had trouble getting in to see my pain management doctor after it. And I am the one that began to taper myself off the gabapentin the next day, October 22. One of the nephew’s birthdays.
And so, I begin today with a heavy heart. My migraine has returned in full force. There are 226,000 people with CRPS in the world. And in two years, 3 of those in my support groups have killed themselves. The world continues to turn and those that are left, continue to push forward… until we can’t. Some succumb to the pain. Others to the meds, like I nearly did. And the rest, the depression that comes with knowing these tattered shreds are all that’s left of our life and it won’t get much better, no matter how hard we try. We have to find something we can cling to. For me, it’s work and family. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t write. God knows, I felt like I was going insane while I was on Lyrica.
Now, I prepare to try something else and let me tell you… If things were different; if I could function on Lyrica, Gabapentin, or Cymbalta, and war hadn’t been declared on opiates for the abuse of the masses and the corporate greed that drives our healthcare system in the US. I wouldn’t be considering this at all. Because no matter how we word it, it is possible that those titanium electrodes in my spinal column will cause anaphylaxis and kill me. Or, the same thing that happens when I pierce my ears, will happen to the spots around those electrodes and the area will become engorged with pus – I have trouble believing that would go well. But these are my options; I can agree to the trial or I can do nothing and hope my doctor doesn’t remove the only thing that does work for me.