sweet saliva

"Elderly Woman" by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) Italian Early Renaissance Painter
“Elderly Woman” by Domenico Ghirlandaio

The physical atoms that make up your body have been completely replaced in the past nine years. Yet you remain. You may feel the effects of age, but your spirit is always renewed in each and every moment. Remember this when you are tired or ill. Let each breath renew your spirit.
~ William Martin
(The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life)

What a long and strange month this has been.

It all started in North Carolina during a conversation with a nurse, a friend of Dima & Larisa’s, about the side effects of statin drugs. Suddenly I had a hunch that all the increasing pain in my muscles in recent years was probably not due to aging but was related to taking one of these drugs since 2011. I stopped taking it and within a week the pain was gone.

So my thoughts turned to another drug – amitriptyline. After years of suffering chronic migraine that only got worse when I reached perimenopause, I was sent to a neurologist, who gave me a prescription for a relatively high dose of amitriptyline as a preventative measure, coupled with a prescription for Zomig, to abort the headaches that broke through that first line of defense. That was in 2006 – nine years ago!

The side effects of amitriptyline are well-known to me. The dry mouth, constipation and weight gain – 50 lbs in 9 years! – were all nuisances worth putting up with to avoid a migraine. But now I started thinking, I’m well into menopause, perhaps I don’t need the amitriptyline so much any more. And so began my unpleasant journey through withdrawal symptoms. I cut my dose in half for a couple of weeks and then quit it completely. Perhaps this was too fast and a little too reckless.

The first thing I noticed was a blessing – saliva production! Oh what a precious gift to be able to moisturize my mouth naturally again! Talk about a feeling of restoration and renewal…

But the nausea, malaise and fatigue have been most unwelcome and difficult to live with. Still, I’m determined to continue and to make it through this miserable ordeal. I’ve been allowing myself extra sleep and long naps, with the idea of healing this body. Less than two weeks remain before our trip to Europe and I do finally seem to be feeling a little better each day. I’m not getting any more headaches than usual and the Zomig continues to take care of them, so that’s a relief. That result alone has made this experiment all worth it.

Last night while reading I came across the quote above. It made me smile at the mention of nine years because that’s how long my physical atoms have had to grow accustomed to amitriptyline. Also, it makes me happy to know that they will steadily be replaced with a new set of molecules over the next nine years. Lots of time for regeneration…

14 thoughts on “sweet saliva”

  1. Self awareness and healing is a major spiritual growth process. I am glad that you have proceeded to move forward with yourself care.
    Sending ((Healing))

    1. Thanks, Jeff – I can always count on healing energy coming from you. Spirit, mind and matter, how growth is unified and continues in the universe, little sensing flecks of stardust that we are…

  2. I sometimes fear that modern drugs cause as much bad as good. How frustrating to learn that the pain you have been experiencing was from the “cure”. I have had life-long headaches. Several every month. At least one a month would send me to a darkened bedroom for 12 hours. And of course I took pain meds. At one point I was hooked on Fiornal (sp?). Two years ago I started drinking water, went off black teas and cut out white sugar. Haven’t had a headache since.

    My daughter was diagnosed with ADD at a very young age. Through the years she was on Ritalin or Dexadrine. For many years (she is now 26) she has suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. Health Canada has just reported a link between those early meds and her current symptoms … I don’t trust the research done on these drugs and now I must bear the guilt of having done this to my lovely child …

    1. Modern medicines are definitely double-edged swords. It takes a lot of skill to use them effectively. And since our bodies are always changing we have to pay attention to the changing risks vs. benefits. When I got to the age of 42 it was like someone flipped a switch – my migraines became completely debilitating, more painful, more frequent, lasting for days on end. I was very grateful for amitriptyline and Zomig when I found them at age 49. I still worship at the altar of science when I need to take a Zomig.

      I’m so glad you found a way to get rid of your headaches – I can’t help but wonder if coming to menopause might have been a factor for you, too. So many older women gave me hope during those dark years, letting me know that their migraines all but disappeared after menopause.

      It’s hard not to feel guilty where our children are concerned, but Sybil, you were trying to help and there was no way you could have known. There is so much we still don’t know about the causes and effects of mental illnesses and the drugs we use to treat them. I have a son with major depression so I do know about the guilt, though… I hope possibilities for healing open up for your daughter, and I am confident that your love and compassion are her greatest anchors.

  3. Its so empowering to listen to our body’s wisdom … especially as we age.
    This not a time for “fixing” so much as attending with loving awareness and patience.
    p.s. the woman in the sketch doesn’t look a day over 50. How times have changed … thank fully πŸ™‚

    1. Indeed, you got me thinking… According to “the internet” life expectancy from prehistoric times until 1400 or so was in the range of 20-30 years. Since this sketch was drawn in the 1400s, a woman of 50 would certainly have been considered very elderly! πŸ™‚

  4. You will not ever imagine how thankful I am to hear that you are weaning yourself off the medication. I never speak about it online, but my daughter, who had a car accident nearly three years ago, has been through hell and back again with pain, caused by injuries from the accident, but moreso the sickness she suffered in the first few months after her accident, through taking prescribed drugs, to apparently help her cope with the pain. Since the accident she has suffered from migraines and also severe stomach upsets, the latter brought about by developing a stomach ulcer from the medication! She stopped ALL prescribed medication within six months of the accident, and has suffered through many migraines without taking a single pill of any description, because she new the “cure” to be worse than the pain. Thankfully, she discovered a specialist a couple of weeks ago, who is treating the nerve ends in her neck, medication free, and she has not suffered any headaches since the treatment began.

    Sending healing thoughts to you, Barbara, and a wish for your complete good health in time for your highly anticipated trip! πŸ™‚

    Oh, and the picture, Elderly Woman? We will not be “elderly” until we reach our 90’s. πŸ˜‰

    1. Oh Joanne, your daughter sounds like a very brave young woman – I admire her ability to cope with migraines without pain meds. Would her doctor by chance be an osteopath? My cousin had her migraines treated and cured by an osteopath and I always wanted to try that – goodness knows I have tried just about everything over the years – but our insurance wouldn’t cover it and we could not afford to pay out of pocket.

      Thank you for the healing energy – I do seem to be coming around. Couldn’t stay awake yesterday but the nausea has diminished dramatically, thank goodness. πŸ™‚

      I’m fond of calling my relatives who live to be in their 90s the ancient ones. I hope to get there, too! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Diane. Things have been improving since I wrote this and I’m getting used to my new bodymind chemistry. *hugs*

  5. I hope you have continued to heal and improve since you posted this, Barbara. Allowing yourself to rest is the best way towards good health when it comes to a drug withdrawal (been there, done that after a bad back injury). In case I don’t “see” you before your trip, have a wonderful and magical adventure. πŸ™‚

    I love that quote, by the way, and I’m going to add it to my collection.

    1. Thank you, Robin. It’s hard to tell if I’ve healed any more since I left on this trip – not sure if I have jet lag or lingering malaise from the drug withdrawal, and not sure if the digestive issues are new (traveler’s diarrhea) or are also remaining from the drug withdrawal… Sigh… Thank goodness for Imodium is all I dare say!

      I’m happy you loved the quote – I’ve put many of yours in my collection, too. πŸ™‚

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