At the end of July, I got a new medication from my doctor that hugely reduces the pain in my spine. It has been a long time since I was able to do much of anything. I had taken this medication before, but only occasionally and not in such a high dose. It worked well.

With winter coming on, my doctor, who is a really great doctor, thought if I could tolerate the medication daily, it would help me get through the cold, damp winter months and maybe I’d still be human when the warm weather arrived.

I am not supposed to take NSAIDs. This includes aspirin and ibuprofen as well as no-longer-available medicines like Vioxx and Celebrex and a wide selection of other NSAIDs. All are dangerous to what remains of my stomach and can cause internal bleeding and a return of the ulcers that tried to kill me.

They all make me sick. I’ve lost my stomach twice to ulcers and I’m pretty sure the NSAIDs had a lot to do with it.

Vioxx worked well except it was killing people, so it was taken off the market. I moved on to Celebrex which didn’t work as well as Vioxx, but was pretty good — until they took that away too. It was also killing people, just more slowly. I think they took it away right before the second time they removed my stomach for ulcers. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time on Tramadol (Ultram) which is sort of like a narcotic but isn’t. It doesn’t work as well as either Celebrex, Vioxx, or (now) Sulindac — but it doesn’t make me sick or try to bore holes in my stomach.

I took demerol for a few years until they stopped making it. It’s a chemical narcotic. An opioid (sort of), but mild. It couldn’t compete with the more powerful opioids on the market. After they stopped using it in hospitals, very few people used it. Everyone preferred the really powerful stuff which is why we have such a massive addiction problem, but I digress.

Demerol was the only narcotic I could tolerate. It wasn’t great, but it helped. It didn’t remove the pain, but it gentled it down. In the end, there was only one manufacturer — and they quit making it. So when my doctor said that Sulindac might help me, I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose. Sure enough, it’s a NSAID — the category of medication I’m not supposed to take and the only type that works,

Taken at the full dose, it made me ill yet eliminated almost all the pain. I started taking it at the end of July. I struggled with it for months. I was also struggling with a pretty serious case of anemia, so it was hard to figure out which thing was causing what.

The doctor said to give it up. It was clearly not good for me. I compromised and cut the amount in half. And the result? It takes away about half the pain. All things being equal, losing half the pain is not half bad. The iron infusions (so far so good) dealt with the anemia. How long will they continue to work? I don’t know.

So now I take one Sulindac, cut in half, early morning and after dinner. I don’t dare take it if my stomach is empty. This medication is my last hope of being able keep moving like a reasonably normal (old) person.

The medicine is not kind to my stomach. I have to watch out for signs of internal bleeding. Because remember those ulcers? This is a medication that could bring them back. I’m not sure I have any more stomach to lose. It’s my choice. My decision. I can give up and return to being a calcified lump OR I can keep taking it at half the dose and hope it doesn’t burn another hole in my stomach.

Sometimes, there isn’t a good answer. All solutions have negative side effects. Maybe they’ll invent something new, but right now, there’s nothing else that makes the pain go away. Narcotics make me even sicker.

There must be a Murphy’s Law about this. If not, how about this?

The one medication that works will be
the one that makes you sick.

Categories: #Health, Anecdote, Arthritis, medication

Tags: , ,

19 replies

  1. Good’ol Murphy!
    Couldn’t agree more with him on this.


  2. HI Marilyn, I am so sorry about your pain and the risk of ulcers with the medication. My husband is on blood thinners and so is my father. They have both had blood clots. They take a medication to protect the stomach called Lansoloc with contains lansoprazole. You may have tried something like this and it may not work long term, but I thought I’d mentioned it.


  3. Yes, we get to the point on the quality/quantity life scale where quality really matters. I’m glad you are getting sufficient pain relief to both do more and rest better. Best wishes for it continuing!


    • I began to feel as if I would never be able to do much of anything other than sit with a computer. I’m not extremely active, but I’d like to be able to at least take a walk with a camera. I can do that now. I can even stand up with having to push myself up — and even climb a few stairs. It’s risky. I know it, the doctor knows it, but I think it’s a reasonable risk — especially at my age. I’m just glad that it is working reasonably well. The best part of NSAIDs is that they keep working. You don’t need more and more of them. You can even stop taking them for short periods if you need to. Beats out narcotics by a LOT.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel for you. I hate taking medication, but as you indicate here, it may be the only option in order to lead a comfortable life. I hope this works for you and does not introduce any further problems.


    • So far, while my tummy would be happier without it, its objections are relatively mild and the pain relief is HUGE. I can walk around — almost like a normal person (of my age). It didn’t make me young (wouldn’t THAT be a lovely side effect!), but it has made me a lot more able to manage.


  5. I am sure that David used to take Celebrex, he had arthritic knees, the pain was pretty bad. I looked it up, it’s still being sold here and is even still on the PBS so must have government approval.


    • They took it off the shelves here. I was actually very upset when they did that because there wasn’t anything else to take at the time. Since then, there are more NSAIDS on the market. They are all very abrasive to everyone’s stomach, but they are also — to date — the only things that really work. AND they are not addictive except insofar as relief from pain is addictive!

      Without them, we are left with REALLY powerful narcotics which make me ill and always have — I think it’s officially considered an allergy now. Or Tramadol (Ultram and other names) which works, but not nearly as well — or grinding my teeth.

      The other great thing about this is I can sleep. I can even lie on my side, at least for a few hours. I know I’m taking a risk, but sometimes you have to balance what you get from the risk you’re taking. At this point in my life, I just want to be able to go out and walk around and not be permanently stuck in a chair.

      Sometimes, there really isn’t an answer, at least not the one you want to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry that you have to endure this


  7. I have found that quotation to be true… more like sod’s law than murphy’s I think…


  8. I have taken a lot of pain medication, mostly non-narcotics. My favorite is ibuprofen. It works while others won’t. But lt can damage the kidneys. Paracetamol is mild but not very effective. It has to be a balance between what works and the side effects it has. Just keep a careful eye over t the he signs of bleeding ulcers. Anemia is a often related to stomach or GIT bleeding too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even paracetamol (it has SO many different names!) will damage both kidneys and liver — mild though it is. There are always side effects. I don’t think there’s any medicine on earth that doesn’t have some side effect. If you’re lucky, it won’t affect you, but you never know. It’s a balancing act.

      I have to count how much paracetamol I take. The maximum amount suggested — since these days that drug is over-the-counter — is 6 mg. The thing is, they put that stuff in with many other drugs, so you have to read labels and be sure that you aren’t taking something more than you intended.

      Liked by 1 person

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