In August 2009 I had a tubal ligation after we found out that another pregnancy would kill me (literally.) About a month after that surgery, I found myself in constant pain. I was having constant, sharp, shooting cramps, like menstrual cramps, mostly on my left side but occasionally my right. My OBGYN had no real solution other than exercise (insert eye roll), shots in my stomach (insert squeal of terror) and a prescription painkiller. Ultram, or Tramadol.
Tramadol is more powerful than Ibuprofen, less powerful than Vicodin or other hydrocodone medications. It mimics an opiate, but it's not a true opiate. A few weeks after taking Tramadol daily, I found that my severe social anxiety was gone. I was able to function in normal society, I could go to church without panic attacks, and I could go to the grocery store without breaking down in hysteria on aisle 12.
My general practitioner, who is awesome, was pleased that we'd finally found something that worked with both my depression and anxiety. And thus I found myself with a prescription for Tramadol. I took 2 pills (about 100 mg) in the morning, and then the pain was gone and I was able to function. Well, in December of 2010, I started worrying that I was an addict. A counselor I was seeing was convinced that I was addicted and not happy about it. One day I came down with pneumonia and got a concussion, and since I was miserable anyway, quit the Tramadol cold turkey. It worked, until I mentioned a few weeks later to my GP that I was still having headaches and he told me to go the freak back on the Tramadol. Rats.
Basically, I arranged to have the hysterectomy for two reasons. First, so I wasn't in pain daily, and second, so I could go off the Tramadol forever. The last time I took Tramadol was the day before the surgery. I weaned off slowly.
The last two months have been horrible. I know I'm not detoxing, because the chemicals are out of my system. But I have proven to myself that I still have severe anxiety. I can barely leave my house. I can barely leave my couch. Every single day I wake up miserable and wanting to die. My very social son terrifies me - I stopped taking him to the park and playdates because I knew I would have to talk to people, and I can't. By the time my husband gets home from work, I am shot. It is absolutely miraculous that Sparrow has survived this time, and even more miraculous that I have survived.
Two weeks ago I decided that I really need help. If I have to be on Tramadol every day for in order to function and be a GOOD PERSON, then I will take it every day for the rest of my life. (This is where I don't believe I am addicted - I don't WANT to take this drug, but I will in order to be a good human being and a good parent.) I'm not going to kill my kid, but I hate that I have zero patience for him. I can't do anything but sit around my house and feel awful that I have nothing to offer him. I am not functioning.
One of the worst parts of this story is, my general practitioner has quit the medical business after a near-death experience. I am working with another doctor from his practice, but I doubt I will be prescribed Tramadol again.
So currently I am weaning off an SSRI (Zoloft, which I have been on for 2 years) in order to try Effexor, which binds to brain chemicals differently and may, hopefully, mimic the Tramadol.
Truly, I don't care. I don't care what medications I have to take. I realize that I will likely be on some sort of depression medication for the rest of my life and that doesn't bother me - it is a disease that I have been afflicted with since I was at least eight years old. My childhood and teenagehood were overall miserable because I never got the help I needed and I am determined that my 20s and 30s and on will be better.
I just wish I felt better. I wish I was a better parent without medication. I wish that I felt motivated to do anything other than sit on my couch. My house is a mess, my child is bored, my friends are neglected, I haven't been to church in over a month, all because I just. can't. do. it.
I miss being able to function.