Tag Archives: healthy living

Ativan 

So here is part two of my addiction story….

During my many chemo sessions, it became apparent to not only myself, but to all of the nurses working in oncology, that I was developing MAJOR anxiety before even stepping foot into the clinic. My oncologist wrote me a prescription for a drug called Ativan (also known as Lorazepam) and told me to put two under my tongue an hour before each appointment. Well I did, and they did nothing. I kept the bottle in my cupboard at home and thought nothing of them. 

Before each and every surgery the same thing would happen – I would have a major anxiety attack. After the first major blow out I was also prescribed Ativan to be taken 30 minutes before being called into the operating room. Just like with the chemo anxiety, they did nothing. 

All I ever knew about this drug was that is was to help with my anxiety. From my experiences I thought it just didn’t work for me. 

While packing in March to head on my Thailand and Australian adventure, I was taking out the Advil bottle and noticed the bottle of Ativan. “Perfect find!”, I thought to myself. Just in case I have an anxiety attack while away, I will have something to help calm me down. I made an appointment with my family doctor before leaving, and told him that I had a bottle of Ativan and it never worked for me before. He then prescribed me a bottle of Clonazepam, and said they might work better for me. 

Both Lorazepam and Clonazepam belong to the drug class known as benzodiazepines. They act on the brain and nerves and produce a calming effect. 

While on the 17 hour flight to Hong Kong, my panic set in. So I popped a Clonazepam and low and behold, I felt nothing. 

Great. My anxiety levels are too high for these drugs apparently. 

A few days later, finally in Thailand, I was having some anxiety before bed and thought I would try just one of the Ativans. 

The following day I woke up and could not believe it – I actually had a full nights rest! 

I have not slept through the night since I don’t even remember. With my multiple keloids on the body, and the anxiety and pressure from this cancer world, I toss and turn throughout the night. But now, I feel rested and AMAZING. Well, this is a miracle. 

I decided right then and there, I would take one each night to help me sleep. They did not make me groggy or even put me to sleep. But what they did do is KEEP me asleep. Which was the best thing I had experienced in a long while. 

In May I went for my consultation with my surgeron for my upcoming surgery, and I told him about how Ativan has helped me, and if he could right me another prescription. He did, but only for 3 months because he said he wasn’t allowed to write one for longer than that. Well that’s annoying, but I thought nothing of it. 

I dropped off my scrip and when I went to pick it up the next day, the pharmacist let me know that I was NOT allowed to get my next 30 day refill till the actual day it was due. Ok, sure lady. Again, I thought nothing of it. 

Now in August, I made an appoint with my family doctor again to have my pre-op for my colonoscopy. During our talk he saw I wrote down that I was taking Ativan. That reminded me, my three month prescription was almost up. So I asked him to write me a new one. 

“Are you addicted?” He quickly asked. 

“Um no. You know me I hate taking drugs. This I just use to help keep me asleep. No big deal.”

“Ok. You are a special case. With everything you’ve been through I can understand if these help you.”

I was so confused. Why was he being so weird? 

“Are these super addictive or something?”

“YES. Very much so. But you are different than most people and I know you wouldn’t be taking something unless you truly needed it.”

He wrote the prescription and told me to just have the pharmacy fax him every three months for a new one. 

I went home and spoke to Chris about my conversation with my doctor. He and I agreed that if it was helping me right now, then it’s ok. 

Later that night I got into bed, took my pill, and then began googling “How bad is Ativan?” – oh the things that came up. So many blog posts about people who were given it in the hospital, and it took them months and sometimes YEARS to get over the withdrawal. It explained how it is the most additive drug and that you should start with a low dose of 0.25mg. 

Holy crap I was taking 1mg! 

The next day I woke up and said, “Nope, I’m never taking that again.” 

The following day I woke up, and was instantly in withdrawal. My skin was crawling, my heart was beating out of my chest, I felt super anxious and couldn’t stop crying. Just a complete mess. I didn’t know what to do. If I took a pill to stop it, I would still have to take one at night – so then I would be taking two pills in one day. That wasn’t the answer. I called my doctor but he wasn’t in that day, and I was told he would call me on Monday – this was Friday. 

I cried and cried to Chris – I was so mad at myself for getting into this predicament. I started reading online how hard it was to come off of this drug, and that got me even more scared. Chris was amazing and calmed me down. He let me know that I am not a drug addict, that my case is different. If I needed this to help me get to sleep then so be it. 

I, on the other hand, did not agree. I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I was taking a drug that was highly addictive. I think it would cause me more stress. From all of my readings it seemed like the best way to get off of it was to slowly drop your dose down. So Friday night I took a pill, and then I decided Saturday I would not. When it came time for Sunday I though, hell I will roll the dice and just not take one tonight either. On the Monday I felt the withdrawal, but it wasn’t overwhelming as it was on Friday. When my doctor finally called I told him my predicament and he said very firmly, “Do not go off of this drug cold turkey. You have to gradually take it out of your system.” 

Well as we all know by now, I rarely listen to doctors. 

So I decided to push myself, and if it got too bad at any point I would give myself permission to take a pill. 

It took about two weeks, but I finally began to feel back to normal. Now, here is the craziest part. My depression also has seemed to have left. I no longer feel as though I am living in this dark hole. I truly believe that has to do with being off of the drug. I still have my days obviously, but they are not a constant anymore. 

My sleeping is back to being scattered, but now I am looking for more natural remedies to help with this. 

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Addiction 

I avoid drugs. I know how easy it is to become addicted to pain killers, so I was always scared to take them. Since I have always been vocal about this to all of my doctors, they are never worried about me and always tell me, “Don’t be a hero and just take the drugs if you need to”. (Well ok they do not use the term “hero”, that’s my ad lib 😉) 

After my second surgery in 2014, I saw first hand how easy it was for my body to become addicted to drugs. Even though my mind wanted nothing to do with it, my body began going through extreme withdrawal when I tried to stop taking the Oxycodones. My skin felt like it was crawling, I was sweaty but shivering, and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I was forced to continue to take them and gradually reduce the dose. Since then I have refused to take anything other than just regular ole Advil – well until recently. 

I was in a lot of pain and discomfort after my recent lung surgery, and when I went in for my post-op, my surgeon told me to just take even a single pill if I think it might help. After discussing it with Chris, we both decided that I will have to try it as the Advil did not seem to be doing the job this time. So I cut the oxycodone in half and took it at 6:00pm. At 9:30pm I still felt no relief so I took the other half. By 10:00pm my whole body was numb and I felt drunk. No joke. I had to put myself to bed. 

The following day I had plans in the morning so I woke up and felt groggy, but I figured that was only because it was 8:00am. It wasn’t until I was half way to my destination that I realized, “holy crap I am SO high right now and should NOT be driving”. I pulled into a parking lot and had my friend pick me up. This feeling lasted till the mid afternoon! 

When I got home I looked at the bottle, my original prescription was 1-2 every four hours!! WHO COULD SURVIVE THAT?! 

Never again – I went back to just suffering through the pain. 

So, this story is not even the main reason for this post…. I will have to write an “addiction part two” tomorrow. 

But to finish off our discussion about oxycodone – or just any pain reducing drug for that matter. BE CAREFUL. The doctor will prescribe you what is the standard dose, but LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Do not just read the label and pop away, see what works for you. I am not advocating to never take a pain pill. Tolerances for pain are different for each individual, and if you are in too much pain then that will actually harm your healing process. All I want to make known is just to be aware of the problems that can come from taking pain killers. It may help with your pain but it may be hurting you in some other way. These drugs are strong so please use with caution. 

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Finding The Word

Crying has become a part of my everyday life. It is just something that happens and I am almost getting used to it. During my most recent therapy session, my therapist wanted to know why. She wanted me to seek the reason as to why I cry. It started with me describing the memories that like to pop up in my mind daily. All of the ones of me in the hospital, getting poked and pulled and crying out for help. So then the question was, why are these memories the most prominent? What was the common thread that linked these together? I couldn’t figure it out, so we moved on. She then asked, if you could use one word to describe why you cry, what would that be? I had no idea which made the tears come even harder.

Vulnerable. I cry because I feel so vulnerable now.

No, that’s not it.

Independence. I cry for my loss of independence.

No, that doesn’t work either.

Misunderstood. I cry because no one really understands me.

Nope.

Grief. I cry as I am grieving the life I once had.

Dammit that’s not it either.

Then I thought about the hospital, and the memories that haunted me the most. The ones that like to creep into my thoughts and distract me from all of the positive. What was the common link?

No one was there.

When I was having anxiety attacks on operating room tables. I was crying and begging them to stop because I was scared. They would hold me down as I struggled and I would look up the bright light and wish it would all be over.

When my blood pressure spiked and my heart felt like it was coming out of my chest. I kept fading in and out of consciousness and thought I was dying.

When I was told they had to pull my liver drain out at my bedside and they would not wait for my family to come to hold my hand.

When I was struggling to stand and I had to call the nurse to wipe me after the washroom.

When they stabbed my arms and held me down trying to insert a picc line.

Nurses and doctors were there, sure. For the most part they were so friendly and helpful, but they are not family. I also fully understand it is impossible for family to be in the hospital 24/7, so I don’t blame anybody.

So now that we have figured out the common link, is that the reason I cry so often? What is the word that I feel would best describe my feelings in general?

Alone. That’s the word.

No matter how much I explain, no matter who was there for what, no one has been there for it all. No one is in my head having to live with these thoughts, and the ones described above are just a handful of them.

Alone does not only describe those moments, but so many others. I have met a lot of wonderful people who can better understand my experiences, but no one fully can. No one I have met has had 6 surgeries. No one I have met has been told twice that they are inoperable.

So now that I have named it, I have to work on accepting it. There will never be anyone who will fully understand other than myself. So that is the next step. I am working on it, alone.

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Oh She Glows – Apple Bake

First off – For those of you who have read my post from a few months back about how I am was going to start cooking everyday, and you are sitting around and laughing at my lies – I would just like to say, it’s been harder than you think.

I had good intentions, but then I went through a major slump. I was depressed, eating still fairly healthy, but not perfect. Most days I didn’t want to do much of anything. I also was stressed over planning for my wedding – which I will post about on a later date.

Now – back to the good stuff!

This oatmeal apple bake found in the Oh She Glows cookbook is AMAZING. I have actually already made it twice. It is so easy once you figure it out for the first time.


Here is a picture of all of the ingredients I used the first time around. I try to stay as healthy and organic as possible. The Simply Organic products are my absolute favourite.


And there is the beautiful finished product. I transferred it to a few containers as it keeps really well in the fridge – I continued to eat it up to 4-5 days later. I am also sure it freezes really well in case you have too many leftovers.

After doing it the second time around I changed a few things. For starters, as you can see I did not add pears. I am not the biggest fan of baked pears. I also included 4 apples and did not skin them. The first time I made this I found skinning every apple to be tedious and I just didn’t want to do it again. It honestly tastes the exact same.

Highly recommended!!

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Healthy Weight Loss

As I have written about many times – I have body issues. My scars funny enough do not bother me in the slightest – it is more of the gained weight over the past year and nine months. By the way – how crazy is it that it is has been that long? Unbelievable. Although it feels like it has been my life forever truthfully. 

I went from 155 in April ’14 to 135 in September ’14 (back to back surgeries will do that) to 180 in January ’15 – and have been that weight ever since. The swelling from the steriods went down, but I still did not feel like myself. It wasn’t until I began to eat clean and healthy that I began seeing amazing results. I was never doing it for weight loss. That is the truth. It was just a happy side effect to eating as clean as I have been. It has been 5 weeks since my healthy lifestyle started and I have lost a total of 15 pounds. Before you begin to judge – no I am not weighing myself. Before each chemo I have to weigh in so they can make sure the dose is appropriate for my weight. I don’t even care about the scale. It is the way I feel in my clothes now. The way my face looks in the mirror. Slimmer and healthy. When you start eating clean you stop watching how much you are eating. Just the other day I finished an entire container of fresh hummus and veggies in just two sittings. No regrets because it is not a bag of chips. I eat as much as I want, whenever I want. It is a glorious thing. My stomach will never be flat again due to my scar tissue build up, and I may never return to my original 155 pounds – but that’s ok. I am happy and healthy. 

Here is a progress picture. Ignore that itsy bitsy bathing suit – it was a pre-cancer purchase. I’m not dumb I obviously know it no longer fits. 

April ’15 – July ’15 – December ’15 

   

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Living With Disease

That is the new category I fall into now. During my first visit with my naturopath she said something to me that changed my whole perspective on my life moving forward. I was trying to hold it together while going over with her my history in the past year and a half. While my guard was down, through my tears I asked the question we are told to never ask, “How long do you think I have?” This was her answer:

“You are living with disease. A disease we call cancer. Unfortunately in our society the word “cancer” always has people instantly thinking of death. That does not have to be the case. There are many people out there who are also living with disease. People with alzheimers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis. You can live with your disease as long as you are getting the correct support in order to help you MANAGE that disease.”

YES. Just because I have stage 4 cancer should not mean my life is over. I just have to work harder than most people in order to sustain my life. But that does not mean there isn’t a strong possibility that my life can be sustained for years on end. I have built around me an amazing support team including family, friends and doctors – and my team is still being built. Adding the new addition of a naturopath is only going to make my team stronger. Positive energy and positive thinking can bring great things. 

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Labels

The past few weeks my eating habits have been consistantly healthy. Why? Well there are many reasons, but I think the main one is that I am not labelling myself. I do not consider myself a vegan, gluten-free, juicer,  anything. If I label, then I have an opportunity for failure. So I am taking failure out of the equation. Let me explain: my everyday eating habits are now mainly vegan and gluten free – however – there have been 1 or 2 meals that are not. For example: I was recently at an auction that went on much longer than I originally anticipated. I was not prepared and did not bring enough healthy snacks. It was lunch time and I was STARVING. The only relatively healthy option they had past the donuts, chips, chocolate and burgers were egg salad on brown bread. So that is what I had, and I did not feel bad about it. It is still a healthy choice. If I labelled myself I would have been a “cheater” which would make me feel horrible. The mind games would have started where I thought, “well if I cheated today, then tomorrow it’s ok if I eat a small turkey sub.” That is how sick my brain is when it comes to food. Without the label I allow myself to be flexible to a degree. Technically, I am a vegetarian. I will not eat meat no matter how hungry I am. I will also not drink a glass of milk or add cheese to my salad. Now I am not saying that I now add eggs to my salads, but I choose to eat over starving my body. With the amount of drugs pumping through my system the fatigue level for me is very high. I do not want my body to feel weak at any moment in the day. So I was desperate and ate the egg. 

I am now on day 16 of healthy eating. Although 16 days may not seem like a long time – it sure feels like it. I compare it to quitting smoking. To others, 16 days is nothing – but to the person who is quitting, 16 days feels like 16 months. I have tried eating healthy in the past and the pattern always turned out to be the same. I would be great the first few days, and then some one would have something that I shouldn’t eat – and I would just have a bite. No harm in a small bite of something bad right? Well then the next time I was out, a friend would say “Oh go on and get dessert – we’ll split it.” Well ok. Splitting a piece of cake is not that bad. I’m still eating healthy and ok. But then that split dessert would turn into my own next time, and that bag of chips at the grocery store is now ok because it’s Friday. Slowly but surely I am right back into my old eating habits. So I changed the way I look at things. Having that bite of chocolate is like an ex-smoker having a drag of a cigarette. Are they smoking again? Can they still count their quit date or do they have to start over? Works the same in my case now. If day 16 feels like it has taken forever to get to, I do not want to start back at day 1 because I said ok to cheesecake. 

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