Every holiday a headache

Tramadol/Ultram was fairly new back then. Marketed as non-habit forming. Most definitely a wonder drug.

Rather than making Dave groggy, like other pain medications, it helped him just be there.

With three small children at that time, this drug was a miracle to me.

Prior to taking tramadol, migraines meant Dave had a pillow over his head in a dark room . . . sometimes for days.

It was lonely. And stressful. Every holiday. Every birth. Every birthday. Every weekend. Migraines.

After six years of unsuccessful experimental drug treatments, he was finally referred to UCLA’s pain clinic.

“Non-habit forming.”

I operated under that assumption for years. Even when we had to pay for it out of pocket because insurance only covered a certain number of pills, I didn’t catch on.

Looking back, we realize that at some point the migraines had actually turned into “rebound headaches.” Which meant for Dave that going without the drug for a few days created more pain. Often worse than the original headache. Not sure either of us knew the difference. Pain was pain.

Part of my blindness was because doctors kept prescribing it. They didn’t know either. 

You’d be amazed how hard it was 7 years ago to convince doctors that a. Dave was addicted to tramadol, and b. they were fueling his addiction.[by 2003, there were many doctors .  . . but I’ll save that for another post]

Back then we heard things like, “Does it help your migraines?” “Yes.” “Well, then? What’s the problem?” And “You don’t have an addictive personality.” And, “Ultram? Really? That can’t be right. It’s not a class 2 drug.”

I had to call the doctors and tell them. TELL them. Read the insert in the samples. In fine print, doctor, it’s there. . .

Strangely enough, in the past 3 1/2 years,  Dave’s only had a handful of migraines. Maybe five.

* * * * *

Yesterday was truly lovely.

So lovely that I almost forget how painful holidays used to be.

Praise God.

I owe it to Oprah

I never knew an addict. At least, not one who admitted it to me.

The only time I ever heard about addiction was in a testimony: what someone was like before they became a Christian.

I didn’t think it was possible for a Christian to have an addiction problem.

And I didn’t know the signs.

What I did know, back in 2003, was that we had serious financial trouble. And we fought a lot. And Dave would go out to get something and be gone a long time. And he was failing in seminary. And he’d have a migraine a few days out of every week. And he had insomnia.

I accused him of everything under the sun. From irresponsibility to having an affair.

I was completely blind.

At some point late in 2003, while the kids were napping, I turned on the tv to watch Oprah.

I was only half paying attention. Folding laundry. Enjoying the quiet house. And then . . . stunned.  As a man talked about his wife, everything — I mean everything he said could have been said about Dave.

And then . . . the revelation: the real problem — she was addicted to a prescription medication . . . I don’t even recall what it was.

But I ran to the computer to look up the side effects of tramadol and could not believe what I was reading. This drug, which was not regulated or classified as a narcotic, and which had been touted to be non-habit forming, had a very, very serious side-effect: Addiction. As powerful as heroin.

Oprah changed everything. And though I’ve hardly watched an episode since, I’ve been tempted many, many times, to write and tell her what she did for me. It would have been a good year to do that . . .

So, thanks Oprah. I needed you.



And so it begins…

…welcome to enduring and after. A blog about going through hard things and getting your life back together afterward.

For us, it was prescription drug addiction and all the mess that accompanies it.

My husband, Dave, battled with addiction to tramadol (Ultram) for almost a decade before he — and I — hit rock bottom.

Through those years, we were actively involved in church ministry and Christian leadership. No one I knew had the kinds of struggles we had. I didn’t know where to go for help except to God.

I journaled like a crazy woman during those years. It helped me survive. And I learned a lot about practical help you couldn’t find in our church. But I felt very much alone. And I know my husband did, too. It’s truly a miracle that we are still married.

Part of that miracle for us was finding a Christian 12 Step recovery group. 

For the past five years, my husband and I have been involved in Celebrate Recovery, and it’s changed our lives.

Dave’s been “clean and sober” for 3 1/2 years now, and we’ve had the privilege of starting a Celebrate Recovery program at the church that has walked with us through this journey, Cornerstone Alliance Church.

We’ve been pondering the idea of getting this out on the internet, because that’s where we turned for help. But we knew needed to be farther down the road of recovery first.  

My hope is that this blog will attract readers who are dealing with addiction in their family, and that as I reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now, they’ll be encouraged.

Even if it’s just to know they are not alone.