Let Go My Norco

On Friday, January 25, 2013, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted 19 to 10 to recommend moving hydrocodone combination drugs, such as Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco to the schedule II category of controlled substances. If the FDA follows the panel’s recommendation and moves hydrocodone combination drugs from their current schedule III to schedule II, prescribing practices would be more restricted. … [original article here]

Like many of you, I deal with pain on a 24/7 basis. When I am talking, laughing, smiling, or queening out, believe it or not, I am in pain. Here is an inside scope on those who live with pain— we have a high tolerance to it and we are incredibly strong. It is only when the pain is so unbearable that you can see it on our face.

Now each person has their own way of coping with daily pain. Many do the healthy-living (i.e., eating well, doing yoga, etc–check out these great posts). Overall, the majority try to keep themselves occupied so to not focus on the pain. What do I do? I keep my mind busy with some activity (i.e., work, watching some sitcom marathon on some ridiculous network [thank you, CLOO for the 3-day Psych marathon!!]) AND I rely heavily on my drugs, especially my precious Norco (hyrdrocodone/acetaminophen)– the cooler, pot-smoking cousin of Vicodin. Dr. Lupus prescribed a 180-count per month prescription, and I am expected to take one-pill every 4 to 6 hours. But as we all may have experienced, pain is not a uniform symptom. I have good days that I can take my 1-pill every 4 hours. But most likely, I will have days where I am taking 2-3 pills as needed (i.e., whenever I feel like it to keep my sanity). Why? Because- WHEN IN PAIN, I NEED MORE THAN JUST ONE MEASLY PILL TO QUIET THE PAIN. I have been taking Norco for over 3 years now. At first taste, one pill did the trick, but as time went by, I was needing more and more.  Taking hydrocodone is a vicious cycle- because users can form a tolerance towards these opiate drugs, which means you need more of it to have an effect. Personally, I am OK with that. As you read this, you are probably thinking that I have a major dependence on the drug. If you don’t think that, well, keep reading, because if I haven’t convinced you yet… I think I will do a stand-up job in the next couple of paragraphs.

Before I left the office today, I received an email notification that my prescription was ready for pick-up. Just as I was reading it, I smiled, swallowed the last four Norco pills and made a mental note to stop the pharmacy before crashing into my bed. Perfect timing. You see, after 3+ years of experience with the Texas Controlled Substance Act, I have picked-up a few tips and managed to never be without opiates and always with a “comfortable” supply (for those bad days). One day, I will disclose those tips. Unfortunately, during the past month, I had to dip into my “Norco” savings, and by dipping, I mean DIVING IN. I left nothing (oops). So, I was desperately relying on today’s pick-up.

At my neighborhood pharmacy, of which my hard-earned funds go to, I was told “it is too soon” to pick-up my Norco prescription and to “come back on April 4th”. I decided to not panic right away and pleasantly state that there may be a mistake because I was notified via email that my prescription was ready. Now, the following is the dialogue that occurred at the Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Sugar Land, Texas. Because I am so talented, I played the role of the classy diva, sarcastic diva, raving queen, and Diva Licious Jones (my tranny name).

The silly pharmacist continues to speak with me with some stick up her ass: “Did you take more than what you were suppose to?”

Classy Diva: “Fuck yes I did, how else am I able to walk, stand and have this heated conversation with you about my painkillers?”

Crap-pharmacist: “You are allotted 4-6 pills a day for pain”

Sarcastic Diva: “Oh sorry. Let me give that message to my body that is being attacked by its own immune system. I am sure it didn’t get the memo.”

Pharmacist: “The controlled substance law states…”

Raving-Queen: “I am going to stop you there. How about this. Why don’t you go get hit by a truck, or get cancer, or suffer from some painful disease like arthritis or lupus, and then, tell me if you give a damn what the controlled substance law says. It is OK, I will wait.”

Dumb-bitch who still doesn’t get it: “There is no need for that. You are just going to have to come back in 7 days. You will not get your painkillers”

Diva Licious Jones: “That is where you are wrong” [pulls the around-the-world-snap and struts out of Walgreen’s] *side bar- I strutted like a true diva but that shit hurt*

What was my next move. PANIC! First, I called my fellow-lupus warrior to bitch about what had happened and to see if I could bum a few painkillers. Second, I called my long-time buddy-past-lover/druggie to score drugs off the streets. How dare that pharmacist refuse my drugs! She was clueless to say that I would not get them today. I know it is possible to score outside the pharmacy, because the older classy ladies at my infusion clinic speak of this all the time. For fuck-sake, I buy weed from a 68-year-old diva (gotta love the pain-community)! So, I left my sure-thing-slam-dunk-move for last. I called in the same prescription at the Walgreen’s in the neighboring town… AND WON! #Rulesweremadetobebroken.

What is the bottom-line? Am I dependent on opiates? Maybe. Will I do anything to have a steady stash? Hell Yes. Like I said before, each person has their own way of coping with pain. I don’t judge anyone for eating grass, going to acupuncture, smoking pot, drinking pure lemon juice or etc.

Here is your Diva’s Note: I think at this point, fans, we need to do what makes us happy AND feel good. We just have to remember that every action has a consequence. I will smoke a doobie, sprinkle Norco on my ice cream, and drink glasses of vino until I can peacefully pass-out pain-free. We already go through so much that no one would ever understand, so why not make the most of it?

STAY FABULOUS!

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Resolving the Energy Crisis

As many as 80 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue. Lupus Foundation of America

What is your biggest complaint of lupus? Pain? Lupus fog? Fatigue? All are crappy symptoms that we must deal with daily–sometimes gracefully and not-so-gracefully at other times. Today, I plan to queen out about FATIGUE. Lately, my conversations have been going something like this:

Regular female: Hi! How are you? How are you feeling?

Diva: I’m OK (lying through my teeth).

Regular female:  Well, you cannot believe the day I had! I blah blah blah blah, and then blah blah blah.  So, do you want to join the girls and I  to do stupid-girl things? I plan on spending 2 hours in getting ready, so to lure a shady man to buy one drink for me. And then, I am going to hopelessly fall in instant love with him- because he buys me that one drink- but then, I will be super upset because he will never call. Are you sure you are OK? You look a little beat.

Diva: Yes, I am fine (lying through teeth). I am a little tired (lying through teeth… full exhaustion and headache setting in) so I am just going to call it a night and drug myself to sleep. Have fun tonight (rolling eyes).

After dealing with fatigue for who-knows-how-long, it finally dawns on me:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have an ENERGY CRISIS on our hands!

An energy crisis is any great bottleneck (or price rise) in the supply of energy resources to an economy. -from the experts at Wikipedia 😉 (…i have no idea what this means…)

Fatigue is no stranger to me, and it has become a blasted-barrier in my life. I have tried several recommendations to help win against fatigue, but I still find myself fighting that battle. Here are some easy tips from the Lupus Foundation of America:

Tips to Help You Manage Fatigue

  • Alternate activities with periods of rest throughout the day.
  • Establish good sleep patterns.
  • Plan ahead; for example, shop for gifts throughout the year.
  • Prepare meals in advance.
  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke.

Because of lupus and its adorable symptoms (i.e., including extreme fatigue), I have cut down from full-time to part-time status at work. Fatigue has really affected my productivity at work, and performing 150% 5 days a week was becoming less and less doable. Today on my day off, I proposed a plan to resolve My energy crisis. Before revealing my plan, let me break down my day to demonstrate the amount of thought and detail that went to such a logical plan.

1. Opened eyes from a 12-hour coma and crawled out of bed at 11 am (don’t judge it was my day-off) still feeling exhausted.

2. Perform my daily rituals of coffee, steroids, pain-killers, vitamins, and dulce de leche on a slice of toast (very Argentine of me ;))

3. Realized that I had a prescription of Norco (a painkiller) ready for me at the pharmacy. This was enough motivation for me to get out of bed… Showered at 1 pm. (again- don’t you dare judge!)

4. While at pharmacy, stumbled onto the vitamin and supplement aisle and noticed the following product: GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy and Metabolism Multivitamin. These timed-release caplets provide a gradual release of vital nutrients.

5. I read the product information:

Clinically studied multivitamin

  • With 1600 IU of vitamin D-3 for breast+ and bone health*
  • Calorie burning support*
  • Boosts energy and metabolism*
  • Supports mental focus*

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 112 healthy volunteers, subjects taking the GNC vitamin and mineral blend in this product for six weeks experienced statistically significant improvements in markers of B vitamin and antioxidant status, as well as improvements in SF-36 Vitality and Mental Health scores compared to those taking a placebo

Advanced Nutritional Support

  • Includes 1600 IU of vitamin D-3. +Emerging research suggests that adequate daily vitamin D intake may play a role in supporting breast and colon health.*
  • Supplies B-vitamins that are essential for energy production and metabolism.*
  • Provides important bone-strengthening nutrients including 500mg of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D-3 that are essential in the development of healthy bones and teeth.* Adequate calcium and vitamin D in a healthy diet throughout life may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Calorie Burning Support

  • Features an energy and metabolism blend that helps boost energy and metabolism and support calorie burning.* The components in this blend also help support mental focus.*

Antioxidant Protection

  • Contains a premium blend of antioxidants including selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E to aid in supporting the body’s immunity.*
  • Combines lutein and zeazanthin to support eye health with lycopene, an antioxidant from tomatoes to support cardiovascular health.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy and Metabolism Multivitamin Label

5. Decided to give these pills a try. I am in need of vitamin B and D supplements and will benefit from the extra boost of energy (and metabolism– this diva is getting jiggggggly). Also, I would not mind the boost in mental focus.

6. Swallowed one (2 pills are recommended per day) at 4:30 pm. I already noticed one thing: these pills smell funny.

7. Today marks Day 1/2 of resolving my energy crisis with this multivitamin supplement. I plan on tracking my status every 2-3 days.

I know what you are thinking “Diva, you sure thought this through.”

Fans, don’t be too jealous of my well-laid-out plan (haha!). I did make a note in my trusty notebook about my new purchase, because I will be visiting with Dr. Lupus on Friday and want to make sure he knows of my new plan to resolve my energy crisis.

Diva note: Always tell your doc of all the medications (including vitamins) that you put into your body.

Stay Tuned… AND 

Stay Fabulous!