Monday, 10 March 2014
This post was written and uploaded to the Blog by Kath
I do not take drugs. I take thyroxine for my thyroid, which is a life-long medicine. I do not class it as a drug as such. I guess I make the distinction between drugs and medication. I am not talking about illegal drugs, I mean painkillers. This kind of drug use and abuse is a touchy subject with me - I hate them. Too many addictive prescription drugs are given out these days without proper explanation. If the consequences were known there would be a whole lot less suffering. I know that from experience.
Many people take a drug such as codeine, which is so readily available, and then stop taking it and don't realise they are addicted until its too late. Recovery is nasty. Codeine is found in cold and flu tablets – this is only a band-aid and I don't think it fixes the cold.
I take Echinacea supplements with vitamin c, zinc and garlic to prevent getting a cold or flu. When I worked in the mines, flus were common in winter amongst night shift workers. The young guys would take codral - and get a legal high. I cured many a team member with my specialty Echinacea. I always had them handy, and a spare bottle in my crib bag. Once flu got to one member of the team, it would spread through the heating systems in the crib huts like wildfire. Whoever had the flu would be disliked. We would always be told if you have flu stay at camp. The bus was a major source of infection too. As soon as I picked up on it I would give the latest patient 4 Echinacea then another 4 at both smokos and another 12 for the next day to take at 4-hour intervals. I tell you the next night they would be much better. It works! It became a big bill to keep the supply up, but I was making good money and it was keeping us healthy. I saved many a shutdown at a mine from running over the time allocated by keeping my crew healthy and fit for work.
The reason I am anti codeine is because after my hit and run accident, I became addicted to it. Now, when I have operations I cannot take painkillers. The morphine has bad enough side effects on me for days. Shaking and jitters and stomach cramps.
When I left the hospital after my hit and run I was prescribed panadeine forte and valium. I soon became immune to them and was taking a packet of each per day. I also drank alcohol, the three combined was the only way I could be pain free. No-one had told me they were addictive. I was naive to drugs, I never thought to question what I was given until one morning I woke up shaking so bad that I dropped my pills down the sink. I simply could not hold them.
I knew something was wrong.. I didn't know what was going on so I raced to my doctor. I told him what I did to the last of the tablets. He said "Did you get a tool and try to undo the sink - after all you are a junkie." I was lost for words. I had been his patient for years and was seeing him most days. I slapped him and said, "How dare you." I reported him. Since then he has been disqualified. Pill doctors are a lower class of human. I was then put on the codeine registrar. I had to go to the chemist every morning to get my hit. It was a disgusting feeling.
I would be waiting for the Chemist to open shaking and crying - withdrawals make you cry a lot. They would usher me in and give me 30mg codeine. And I would have to go back every 4 hours get another dose and one for the evening. By the morning I would be in withdrawal state. It was terrible.
I couldn't handle it I didn't know what was going on. I had no idea. I was suffering from Valium withdrawal too. I just didn't put two and two together. I was as skinny as a rake. When I see photos now of that time, I can't believe it was me.
One night I went out and my drink was spiked with Rohypnol. The man who did it has since been jailed. He was drugging girls and raping them. I was lucky I was strong and didn't pass out so he could do what he planned. I felt funny and got a taxi home. The taxi driver knew me well, he said "big night Kath?" and I replied "Must have been." He helped me inside. I fell into bed.
I woke up vomiting. I was choking and gasping for breath. I tried to stand up and I hit the floor. I slid myself to the phone and rang 000. I was out cold when the ambulance got there. They smashed my door in and took me to hospital. In emergency they tested me and found the drug in my system. My blood-sugar level was dangerously low too. I weighed 42 kilos and I'm normally 68 in a good year.
A kind nurse cared for me and told me I was addicted to codeine. She explained that I would be admitted to detox and cured. I was shocked - me a druggie, a junkie - no way. When she saw the look on my face she said "You have no idea have you dear?" I was crying, I said no. She cuddled me and said its ok we will help you. I agreed to be admitted.
Detox is a terrible place full of a lot of people who don't want to be helped. The druggies save their dole money whilst they are in there, and when they get out they are cashed up to buy more drugs. Well the ones I saw were anyway.
I was sat down to watch a video on codeine. Did you know codeine can take up to four years to get out of your system? Heroin is a cleaner drug apparently and doesn't take that long to get out of your system. It's crazy. I was shocked.
I couldn't handle it in detox, so after discussing my options with they let me go home after 3 days. They explained how hard it was going to be, that I would get horror stomach cramps, nightmares and diarrhea. I knew I could do it. I could go back into the detox unit if I couldn't handle it at home. I really didn't want to be in that place - it was hell. The next 3 months was a nightmare. I had the sweats, when I drifted off to sleep. Many a sheet was dirtied - it was disgusting. The blue nurses would pop in everyday to see if I was ok - god bless them. I was determined. I managed to do it - yahoo. I felt so good, so clean I had eliminated that evil from my body. I started to gain weight and eat again - it felt good. So ever since I won't, can't and don't touch codeine or addictive substances. Please let this be a warning next time you reach for a pill.
After my last operation on my elbow I told the staff that I could not take codeine. I slept all afternoon in the day surgery. This hospital trip turned into an overnighter and cost me another $200. I was groggy after the operation and the nurse asked about my level of pain on a scale of one to ten. I said 10 and she sat me up and slipped 2 pills in my mouth I found out they were endones. Not a good idea if they wanted me out that night. The nurses were trying to wake me up and throw me out as they do in day surgery. I refused kept on going back to sleep. Eventually when I found out endones I got quite angry with them. I said leave me alone I am a private patient ok. Let me sleep. They tried to get me up and I couldn't not stand up. Just kept dozing off. Eventually they realised they were not going to get rid of me and moved me to a private room. They could not understand why I was so groggy. I said because of the morphine and endones geez. They didn't believe me and tested me. Two nursed helped me up to a wheelie toilet and tested my urine. They honestly thought that I was taking drugs and couldn't believe it when it came back clear only the endones. The effect on any drugs is major on me my body simply cant take it much more. When I had my hit and run they were injecting morphine into me every few hours. My stomach was so bruised and eventually they had to use other places. It hurt to turn over my arm was sort of slinged up and I was broken so they started injecting between my toes and on my feet Not a nice feeling. So now after I have a operation the after affects are not nice. I shake for days and get after affects like depression anxiety etc.
After the operation on my arm and in my car my thyroid tablets were off. They are supposed to be kept in the fridge and my car fridge broke down. I was tired, had no money and I was living in my car. I became suicidal. The police brought me to hospital. The hospital couldn't fit me in, so they put me in a psych ward to recover. There, I was filled up with pills - but I didn't know. I hate those places.That was my first and last time in a psych ward. It was a bed, the food was great, I needed rest. I was thrown out on my next centrelink payday because I am sane and didn’t need to be there according to the doctors.
I didn't realise until after I left how much I was addicted again and I had a horror week. I rang up the police and they took me back to the hospital but I was not admitted since there was nothing wrong with me. I was told by the nurse "if you're going to commit suicide don't hurt anyone. If you cut your wrists you will be bandaged up, if you overdose you will go to detox horror show - so don't bother. Others need the bed she said." I sat out in front of the hospital in tears feeling so alone.
I had to catch the bus to my car. I slept on the bus, shaking with bad stomach cramps and needing to go to the toilet. Nightmare. I got back to my car got onto twitter and did a @homelessinmelbourne guest spot. It kept me going … as the telling of my stories on the blog does now. Telling people about homelessness has made me strong. I'm sure the nurse said what she said to me on purpose - to give me fight. It was the wrong thing to say to me when I was so distraught, but it worked.