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OxyNorm Reduction Update: Week 17

Current Dosage: 80mg

It’s now week 17 of the OxyNorm reduction plan and as you can see from my current dosage, things haven’t gone to plan at all in the past three weeks. (I should be on 65mg!).
(Clicking on the graph opens up a new window with a larger version)

wk17 OxyNorm Reduction Progress

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The ‘correct’ way to reduce your Morphine medication

Before I say any more, this post is based on information given to me by medical staff trained in the field of drug and medication addiction.  You should not attempt any of the steps or stages I mention during this post, nor should you attempt to stop taking any medication without first consulting your own physician/consultant (or some other fully qualified medical professional).

My own reasons for quitting my morphine medication was based primarily on the number of side effects I was suffering along with the fact it did not really help with alleviating my pain. Contrary to popular belief, morphine cannot and does not reduce a patients pain, it simply masks it.  It is not an anti-inflammatory type drug, it is narcotic based. When you have an injury that is causing acute pain, drugs such as anti-inflammatory NSAID‘s can be used to reduce inflammation which in turn can alleviate acute pain.
When you have a headache and take paracetamol/acetaminophen, this again reduces the effects of acute pain.
With chronic pain, morphine has no ‘healing effect’ and being narcotic based, simply induces a state of euphoria, the amount which is dependant on the dosage and the persons tolerance level (which increases over time).
In my case, I simply get a slight “buzz” 40mins (almost to the second) after taking a dose of OxyNorm.  The pain is still there, I just don’t give a damn about it for the duration of “the buzz”.  And there in lies the first problem.

Narcotic based drugs are in-effective in the treatment of long term Chronic Pain.  They are can be fine for the treatment of acute pain because that would indicate a short term usage, but there is a fine line between ‘short period’ and being effective.  The longer you take the drug, the more chance you have of becoming addicted to it, and the harder it will be to stop taking it without side effects.
Over a period of time, the body builds up a tolerance to the morphine, so in order to induce the same level of “buzz”, you constantly need to increase the dosage.  There are always side-effects with narcotic based drugs, and especially with morphine, so the more you increase the dosage, the more these side effects become apparent. (The side effects effect different people in different ways. Some are lucky in that they don’t even notice the side effects but because of the chemical make up of morphine, they will always be there).

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Finally: Is this the first real sign of progress?

A successful day. My first real one since finishing the INPUT pain management course.
Everything worked today:

  • Completed a full stretch program.
  • Started ramping back up to baselines on circuits
  • No more withdrawal symptoms from Tuesday drop
  • No stomach complaints (as a result of the drop)
  • Had a full active day*
  • Pacing seemed to work.

So all in all, a success (especially when you base it upon the past few months).

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OxyNorm Reduction Update: Week 14

Current Dosage: 80mg

It’s now week 14 of my OxyNorm reduction plan.
That’s over 3months now in trying to come off the OxyNorm and it seems to be
dragging on for ever.  Mind you, you’ll notice the slight “hiccup” in
this latest update of the graph.
(Clicking on the graph opens up a new window
with a larger version)


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INPUT + 5 days

Ever since coming back from INPUT, I’ve been in agony with increased pain from my back.  It did get quite hectic in the last few days of the course, and at first I thought that the travelling back from INPUT had caused me to jar my back. (I did have my “holdall-on-wheels with everything but the kitchen sink in it” with me on the way back, but apart from the short steps at the entrance to Waterloo station, I didn’t carry it at all).

I’ve still been doing my stretch exercises daily, but laid off the circuits.  I was already on a ‘set-back plan’ and due to the increase in regular activity since I’ve been home, I didn’t really need the extra exercise.  (I will however be starting them again today, but I’m still on my recovery plan and hoping to hit full circuits by the end of the week).

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INPUT at St Thomas’ | Week 1 | Day 3

Nightmare of all nightmares.  Let me just say that day 3 and 4 didn’t quite happen.

I’m writing this from home having arrived back from London at 2pm this afternoon.  I ended up spending from 9pm last night (Tuesday 11th November) through to 11am in casualty at St. Thomas’.  When I eventually got back to INPUT I was in no fit state to continue the course and they sent me home for an early weekend break with the hope I would be recovered in time to continue again on the following Monday.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was feeling pretty rough with some sort of stomach bug that I had probably caught from my two sons before arriving at INPUT.  I’d got back to the room after yesterdays course, and had a snooze for an hour after which myself and two of the other guys decided to go out and grab something to eat. (The two guys being “Bernard”* and “Robert”* (the horse whisperer from Alderney.))

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INPUT at St Thomas’ | Week 1 | Day 2

Sleep was most definitely not an option last night.  All in all I think I managed about two hours sleep tops. I was suffering with the stomach bug, and it’s severely affecting the absorption  of the OxyNorm so I was getting withdrawal type symptoms on top of everything else.  But on a more positive note, my back had not reacted to yesterdays activities as much as I had expected.

For day two, we had the following to look forward to:

  • An introduction to circuit training (the last time I had done circuits was back in 1999 during my rugby days with Calne RFC.
  • Talks on Medication and a review of my medication.
  • Making Changes
  • An introduction to “pacing”

We were scheduled for a 5pm finish, but I was feeling so rough I doubted whether I would make it through the whole day. I decided to go for a cooked breakfast over at Toms with two of the other guys and just hoped that I could keep it down (and in !!).  Tom’s is the name of the restaurant attached to St. Thomas’ Hospital and apparently serves the same food as served to the patients.

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INPUT at St Thomas’ | Week 1 | Day 1

Well so far things haven’t gone too well.  The two boys were off school last week with a tummy bug and I’m sure they’ve given it to me as a going away present.  I feel dog rough and I’m sitting on the train heading towards London Waterloo at 7.30 in the morning.

Having made it to INPUT, I met with all the group.  Looks like I have a great bunch of people on my course so that in itself is a relief.  I won’t be using anyone’s real names in my posts but I’m sure a few ‘nick’/’pet’ names will creep in.

The morning consisted of filling out questionnaires and a PT assessment.  My back actually felt quite good today so I kept wondering if they were looking at me thinking “what can be wrong with him?” Having said that, my back didn’t take too kindly to the ‘stand-ups’ and is already beginning to get painful.

We were also given the keys to our rooms.  Seems to be tidy and ‘functional’ and everything you’d want.  Not too sure about the view from the room. My room is overlooking the new hotel being built on what appears to be the worlds busiest roundabout.  Judging by the number of ambulances that went past during the first 10mins I was in the room, the entrance to the A&E department isn’t too far away either.  At least I’m not looking at “Big Ben“, but you can still hear the chimes quite clearly. I suspect that will make it fun trying to get to sleep.

We had our first “relaxation” session today.  Lying on a mat, on the floor, in pain, isn’t the best way to get into a relaxed mode.  We already have called these sessions “story time” and today’s was something to do with a “log cabin on a mountain”. For some daft reason, I couldn’t get an image of Julie Andrews out of my head along with the theme from “The Sound of Music“. All in all, not very relaxing at all.

Spent quite a lot of time in the lounge whilst we were all ‘assessed’ and discussed our medications.  Since I am already quitting the OxyContin/OxyNorm, mine was straight forward.

Am back in my room after the first day and I feel as rough as a badgers bum.  My stomach is going mental and I don’t think any of my meds were being absorbed. So on top of the bug, I’m getting withdrawal symptoms just to complicate things further. 

It’s gone midnight and yes, you can hear “Big Ben” and yes, A&E is very close.  Between 11 and midnight, I just counted 42 emergency vehicles. Somehow I don’t think sleep will be an option tonight.

Major Withdrawal Problems

Absolutely typical… (Well for me anyway…)
Perhaps changing from the OxyContin (The timed release OxyCodone Hydrochloride) was a bad idea.
The bowel problems I was having before I changed to the Fentanyl patches is now worse than ever and I am suffering from major withdrawal symptoms nearly every other day. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern as to when the OxyContin is being absorbed or not. I’m taking the tablets as prescribed and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t… It just doesn’t make sense.

My doc has taken me off the OxyContin and placed me on the equivalent dosage of OxyNorm (The quick acting, short term version of OxyCodone). After speaking with a specialist who deals with chemical dependancy, it transpires that there has been a big increase in people reporting problems with OxyCodone (specifically OxyContin and OxyNorm). Apparently after prolonged usage and occaisionally after changing the dosage, the body for some reason starts to react to the drug.

My GP has converted the amount of OxyContin into the equivalent amount of OxyNorm and I now have to take the quick release version every 4 hours. That is going to really mess my sleep patterns up for the next few months.

What it has done though is make my mind up. I’ve had more issues with the “pain medication” that I have had with the back pain. I’d rather deal with the back pain than all the hassles that the drugs are causing…
So to that end, I am going to start reducing down the amount of OxyCodone. I have an appointment with a “drug” specialist next week and we’ll see what they have to say.

It might be a while before I get round to publishing a new post until I get a handle on things. I’ve been feeling as sick as a pig for the past few days/weeks and the side effects don’t appear to be easing off any just yet.

Round and Round, Up and Down, Highs and Lows.

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know if it was just the bad timing of my son being taken into hospital causing a lack of sleep (and an increase in stress), but switching back to tablets again caused massive problems for me today. I felt like a complete jibbering wreck when I got home from the hospital at 10.30am this morning having spent the night at the hospital.
I did grab an hour or so’s sleep on a camp bed next to my son after they finished the last test/examination of him around 3.15am and I was awake from around 6.40.  It was far too light in the room to go back to sleep so I sat reading a book.

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