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KN3 01-05-2006 04:38 AM

Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
I've had chronic pain from a bad car accident for years, which really started acting up again this past February/March (2004). I went to see a pain management doctor, who then put me on Percocet 7.5 and Zanaflex (muscle relaxers). They helped in the beginning, but over time they just didn't work anymore. I've had two epidurals and one radio frequency (all seperate procedures) on my lower back and one epidural and one radio frequency on my neck. None helped, even after assurances from my pain management doctor that they would. In fact, I feel like I'm in more pain now than I was before.

After the last radio frequency on my neck (which was on 12/01/05), my doctor put me on a two week supply of 20mg. Oxycontins, twice a day, and told me to take a 5mg. of Percocet halfway through. This was only supposed to be for two weeks, until the procedure had time to "work." At the end of the two week period and I was still in a lot of pain, he asked me to give it two more weeks and refilled both the Oxycontin and the Percocet (for another two weeks). I went to him two days ago for another follow-up, and he gave me even more Oxycontin and more Percocet.

I have never taken more than prescribed (although I have taken 10mgs. of Percocet, with my doctor's recommendation, when the pain is bad) .... before the Oxycontin, I was taking one 7.5 mgs. Percocet three times a day.

I need to get off this stuff because I want to have another baby (I have a 21 month old son). I have fertility problems and can't get pregnant without the aid of fertility drugs. To do that, and maintain the pregnancy, I need to discontinue the use of the narcotics and muscle relaxers.

After my initial car accident 16 years ago, I was on Percocet for three years and just stopped taking it at once. I had no problems whatsoever, except for insomnia which gradually went away.

This time, since my doses were higher, I started tapering off yesterday. I took one 7.5 at noon and then 10 mgs. at bedtime (yesterday was the first day I didn't take any Oxycontin), along with my muscle relaxers. I was extremely anxious all day yesterday and was almost freaking out at bedtime (very restless and over-anxious), until the muscle relaxers started working and knocked me out. My sleep was choppy, at best. Yesterday evening, I went to the doctor for a bad cold I've been trying to kick for days, which has now settled in my ears, and my blood pressure was really high, which was scary ... and from the feel of it now, hasn't gone down any.

Last night, I did a google search on narcotic withdrawal and got even more scared. While I am no where near the dose (not even close) as most of the people that were posting on the site I was reading, it's clear I'm having withdrawal symptoms.

I'm sitting here crying because I just can't believe the predicament I'm in. I have serious chronic pain, but what do you do when life needs to go on and in order to do that, you need to stop taking pain meds? I want to be completely off pain meds and most of the muscle relaxers (which are actually worse for a fetus than narcotics) within a month. I'd like to start doing fertility treatments in March or April.

Can someone please tell me how I should take my dose down? I *really* need to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms as I need to take care of my baby all day. Should I expect much symptoms since I'm not really taking *that* much of it (compared to most others I have read about)? And how do you control the pain once you're off the meds? I think that's what I'm most scared about ... the pain I'm inevitably going to be in. I still have plenty of Percocet (and 30 Oxycontin that I haven't filled yet) to be able to just keep tapering down, but I really need advice on what my dosage should be. I do not want to get either my pain management doctor or my regular doctor involved in this. My husband knows about it and is supportive ... he's also on painkillers, but only takes maybe two or three all week. My willpower is strong ... even if it's in the house, I don't *need* to take it just because it's there, I just took it regularly daily to keep the pain at bay.

On another note, I hate the way I'm feeling right now. I feel ashamed that in order to alleviate my pain, I took pills that I now need to wean myself off of to get on with my life. I never craved the pills, but just took them regularly like my doctor prescribed. I already have mild panic disorder (unmedicated), so the super anxiety is not helping matters. And now I'm scared that the high blood pressure will cause me to have a stroke or something ... which I'm supposed to go back to my regular doctor in two weeks for a pressure check.

I'm just a stay-at-home mom to a beautiful boy. My husband makes really good money and because of that, I am very thankful that I get to be a housewife. I'm just so disgusted at the thought that I am having withdrawal symptoms. I hate this extreme anxiousness, and I want it to go away.

If you've read this far, thank you. If you have any advice or words of encouragement, I'd be so grateful.

bevann26 01-05-2006 05:49 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
i have been physically disabled for 30 yrs now. i have been on the same combo of drugs as you, plus different ones at times. when i had hip and knee replacement or other surgeries, i did take them every day as prescribed by my doc. when my pain got less, i took less. now i take something for pain only when i get pain flareups that put me in bed. the most pills i ever take at those times is 2 a day. sometimes only need them for 2 days, sometimes more. if you are concerned that you are hooked on them, then tapering is your best way. also for your sleep problems, any of the otc meds should help you. you do need your sleep to care for a baby all day :)
best of luck to you, and keep in touch with your progress....bevann

BeginAgain 01-05-2006 05:57 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
After reading your story my humble opinion is that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Because of the complication of your legitimate pain issues, elevated blood pressure and the fact that you want to have another child - I really feel like you need your doctors help. I really don't know why you would feel afraid or ashamed to ask them for help - you have done nothing wrong. It is not as if you were drug seeking, taking more med's than prescribed or getting med's from multiple doctors.

There is a difference in being an addict and in becoming physically dependent on pain medication. An addict seeks, craves, goes to extremes to find and use their drug of choice, becomes obsessed and develops overwhelming compulsion to continue regardless of the consequences. The withdrawl you are having is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of - you do not sound like "an addict" - you sound like someone who has been on medication for a long time for legitimate pain who's mind & body has become chemically dependent.

I doubt very seriously that your physician will pass any judgement whatsoever. In fact, if they regularly prescribe these types of med's to their patients (like with a pain management doc) they are used to helping people wean safely off of medication. I strongly suggest that you talk to your doctor and get his assistance in doing this in the safest and most comfortable way possible. You have done nothing wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You state in your post that you have plenty of Percocet and a prescription for Oxy that you haven't filled yet - no addict I've ever known could say that - you are not "addicted" to your medication - your body has become dependent and you just need a little help and advice from your doc to help you find the best way to wean off.

Good luck.

tina76 01-05-2006 06:41 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
I agree, you have nothing to feel bad about! When you are on these types of meds long-term there is a definite chance of becoming physically dependent, which it sounds like you are. That is SO much different than being an addict. My advice would be to go to your doctor and tell them that you want to start weaning off of these drugs because you want to have another baby. They will help you set up a taper plan and make sure that you have everything you need in the meantime (in case you need help sleeping etc...). You have nothing to be ashamed of when talking to them. This is to be expected on these types of meds. Good luck! :)

KN3 01-05-2006 09:12 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Well, it's been since 10 pm last night since I took a dose (10 mgs.) and I *am* counting the minutes until I will "allow" myself another Percocet (I'm hoping to last at least until 2 pm). I am in pain, for sure, and very anxious, but I'm wondering if I really am craving it now that I cut my dose in more than half. I'm a little restless right now, but not at all like last night. Last night at around 9 pm and until after my dose at 10 pm took affect, I was overly anxious and extremely restless. Oh, and I'm yawning a lot ... does that make sense? Can somebody please tell me how quickly I should be lowering my dose? Am I doing it too fast?

And just to clarify, I never had high blood pressure problems before until last evening when I was at the doctor. So it's definitely something new.

Also, what other withdrawal symptoms do I have to look forward to? Do you think mine will be less and not as severe because of the relatively low dose I take daily?

tina76 01-05-2006 09:29 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Thre is no set amount for everyone to use when tapering... It's mostly what is right for YOU. If you are looking to not have a lot of physical w/d symptoms then you want to make sure that you are tapering slowly. In that case, cutting the oxy's out completely might ahve been a bad idea since your body was used to 4mg of oxycontin a day and now has nothing but hte perc's which are not nearly as strong. You could try dropping to 1 oxy per day and then a couple perc's here and there and see how that makes you feel? It really does depend from person to person. But I do feel if you completely cut the oxy out you are definitely goign to start feelign it in a copule of days..... maybe I'm wrong...

BeginAgain 01-05-2006 09:41 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
High blood pressure is nothing to fool around with. Yes it is common during withdrawl for blood pressure to fluctuate - but I really do think you would be much safer getting medical advice. We can only offer advice on our personal experience with recovery and addiction.

I don't know if anyone here can give you a taper schedule...that would be a medical decision and like Tina said in her varies depending on the person, circumstances and health status of the person. You have a sweet baby boy at home and I really think it would be best if you talked with your doctor about the best and medically safest way to handle this. There is no way we know for sure how mild or extreme your withdrawl will be or what your symptoms will be.

tina76 01-05-2006 09:53 AM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
And being that you are using these meds exactly as prescribed and for a legitimate pain problem, you have no reason to NOT go to your doctor for help. They are trained in this exact thing... helping patients wean off meds in a way that will be as comfortable as possible for them. If I were you, I would ask my doctor to help me set up the taper plan.

KN3 01-05-2006 12:01 PM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Well, I called my long time doctor (who is an internist) and explained to him the situation. He was very understanding and told me that I'm cutting my dose way too quick. I said that I was having severe anxiety and on the verge of a panic attack at all times. Several years ago (around 2002), I was diagnosed with mild panic disorder when I was freaking myself out trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA in college. I still do have a 4.0 GPA, but had to drop out of college because I was going through fertility treatments and my fertility specialist didn't want *any* stress on me that would cause me to have a panic attack .... you can't take Xanax when you're pregnant. My regular doctor only gave me a script for 20 pills and I still have 4 left from all those years ago. When I talked to him today, he told me that it's fine to take one of them now, even though they are so old, just to get over the anxiety. He's calling in a "fresh" script now for me.

I think the reason I was so resistant to call my doctor was that I didn't want to be labeled an addict (no offense to ANYONE that is, seriously). I didn't want to call my pain management doctor because I'm tired of getting the procedures that don't seem to work, AND I'm tired of all the pain meds .... both of which seem to be his answer for everything. They aren't working anymore and I do NOT want to become an addict by increasing my dose and taking them more frequently. I want another baby so badly and I need to be in the best possible shape for my son.

Anyway, my primary doctor told me that I am just cutting them back too quickly and I need some help to get over the anxiety, especially since I'm prone to it anyway. I told him that I was afraid he'd be disappointed in me (I have an extremely long history with him, not addiction or anything, but serious health issues I've had and he literally saved my mother's life by diagnosing an extremely rare and heriditary disease that can be fatal which dozens of other doctors couldn't diagnose). He said even if you take pain meds as they've been prescribed for any length of time over a month or two, your body needs time to realize that it doesn't need it anymore and that doesn't mean I'm an addict. If he was here right now, I'd kiss him. :) Suddenly, my anxiety level is cut in half ... which is what I've always known ... I can make myself have an anxiety attack just by dwelling on my fears.

Thank you guys for helping me see that there is no shame. I hope you don't mind if I come back if I need to with more questions. Thanks again.

Stillcraze 01-05-2006 12:12 PM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Sounds like you just got all the good advice you need.
You are not a drug addict from what I have read in your post.
Tina is right, you should fill the oxycontin and taper so you don't have trouble with the blood presure. Ask your Doctor about clonidine. A lot of doctors prescribe it just for withdrawls. Keeps the presure in check.
As far as dealing with your pain, there are a lot of different ways to do it with out drugs, meditation, visulazation and certain stretching exercises. I know of these technics (sp) and I need to start practicing them myself because I am a drug addict and I don't have any choice if I am to stay clean. I have had 2 back surgeries and a lot of epidurals.
Talk to your doctor and tell him what you have told us here.

KN3 01-05-2006 06:00 PM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Well, I tried to hold off on the Xanax until tonight, but I almost had a panic attack. I don't like crying in front of my baby boy, so my husband told me I *needed* the Xanax, so just take it. After about 40 minutes, I started panicking again because it seemed to be not helping AT ALL. Sure enough, at 45 minutes almost to the dot, it kicked in hard and I have almost no anxiety. I'm pretty sure it's a low dose too (.25), so I'm happy that I have this much relief from that small a dose. I've only taken one 7.5 mgs. Percocet today, and other than the severe anxiety and restlessness, I'm doing good. The pain, however, is not doing well at all. Right now I have a lidacain patch on my lower back, and it's doing a LITTLE, but not enough really. It just sucks because I think I'm stressing over the pain more than anything. I'm not craving Percocet at all and still have quite a bit of it (as well as the two scripts for Oxycontin and more Percocet that I haven't filled yet). Thanks for all your support. It truly means a lot to me.

KN3 01-05-2006 06:04 PM

Re: Newbie -- Percocet weaning/withdrawal?
Oh, and one more thing ... while I was in the midst of my almost-panic attack earlier, my husband took my blood pressure with a medical grade machine and it was fine. 127/77 ... still a little on the high side for me, but definitely an improvement from yesterday. We'll keep monitoring it for the length that it takes me to wean off the meds, especially if I feel more anxiety. :)

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