Report at ten months out

7/3/11—Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States. Last Fourth of July, I was nearing the end of my benzodiazepine taper. I wanted to go see some fireworks, just to let Klonopin know “it wasn’t the boss of me.” But, unfortunately, it was. I had every intention of going to see fireworks tomorrow to celebrate both U.S. independence and my independence from Klonopin, but the local fireworks have been canceled due to drought. Still, I bet the explosion-happy locals will set off enough of them to at least scare the kitties. (I hope they don’t start any fires.) I’ll watch those.

My ten months off anniversary was on June 24th, a little over a week ago. As I’d been really late with the nine months off update and really busy with studying for the college class I’m taking, I postponed this update. I also postponed it because I’ve been in a bit of wave for a couple of weeks and didn’t want to report symptoms based on that if it was going to go away relatively quickly. No such luck. So here it is …

These are my symptoms, listed in order of severity (most to least), each rated with a number 0-10 (0 = nonexistent, 10 = unbearable) …

Muscle symptoms & resulting pain—5.5 (at nine months off was a 5.5)
Something really odd happened with this particular symptom. I’ve had a hideous knot in my upper left trapezius going all the way back to at least the fall of 2006 and maybe longer. Some time between the evening of June 11 and the morning of June 12, I woke in the middle of the night (not a particularly noteworthy occurrence these days). I rolled over onto my side and felt a stabbing pain in my back, rather like if you’ve ever thrown your back out except located precisely where that hideous knot is. The pain was so terrible that I could neither get up nor roll onto my back. After a bit, I maneuvered myself gently out of bed and got an ice pack to lay on. This allowed me to go back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, my upper left trap was very sore, but I no longer felt crippled. In fact, it felt like that knot had finally let go.

All of that day, I relished the sensation and wondered if I had hit some kind of turning point in my healing. I looked forward to being able to write this update and report dramatic improvement in this area. Unfortunately, it didn’t last and, gradually, the muscle went right back to being the bane of my existence. So, no progress to report, but I still find it very encouraging that something different occurred.

Muscle tension headaches—5 (at nine months off was a 4)
When I said that I’ve been in a bit of wave for a couple of weeks, it was this symptom specifically that I was referring to. The headaches have been near constant and don’t really respond to the things that usually work on them (self massage, heat, Excedrin and rest). It’s quite discouraging really because when your head hurts, it affects everything about the way you think from how well you process information to your ability to be positive. I’m not sure what’s behind this symptom revving up on me. The college class I’m taking is rather intense, but it could just be the vagaries of benzo healing.

Insomnia—4 (at nine months off was a 4)
No change.

Internal pressure—3.5 (at nine months off was a 3.5)
No change.

Dizziness, light-headedness & poor balance—3.5 (at nine months off was a 3.5)
No change.

Tinnitus—2 (at nine months off was a 2)
No change. This is a minor symptom that I never notice except when I evaluate it for my updates.

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2 Responses to Report at ten months out

  1. Duncan Brown says:

    I am glad you’re slowly getting better, although this month it didn’t look that way. Maybe it is the college class pressure masking underlying progress? In any case, it looks like you slowly but steadily are lowering your symptom scores – I hope you feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    I just came over your blog as I googled to find out how benzodiazepine withdrawal works out long-term. I am four months away from dropping clonazepam and although it is scary to see how long symptoms remain for you and for many others reporting in blogs and forums, it is very inspiring to see that you are holding up.

    On a side note, it really is odd that these pills are prescribed so freely. I myself got 0.5 mg of clonazepam each evening for 1.5 years because of talking and muscle spasms while sleeping. My wife loved the no longer disturbed sleep and I didn’t notice any side effects. Until a year later that I could tell that my work had started going downhill at the exact time I begun this treatment. Then I started tapering and after three months dropped it altogether. And now in withdrawal I am no longer really a functional person. I can see that it slowly but slowly is getting better, but as many others in benzodiazepine withdrawal I am asking myself if I ever will return to what I was. Maybe the harsh truth is that one will suffer from residual symptoms for years ahead, but perhaps there could be a silver lining in that one has started healthy behaviours that one otherwise wouldn’t have (exercise, no quick carbohydrates, meditation, sleep hygiene). And one day many years ahead one may feel that one is better off than before the hellish pills were introduced in one’s life. That’s a hope at least!

    All the best for your continued recovery, and for your college work!

  2. Don’t make predictions on your own progress based on mine or anyone else’s. My history is very complicated. It includes all of the following: long-term high-dose usage, a cold turkey, a seizure, an improperly-done first taper, protracted withdrawal, a reinstatement and a pre-existing chronic pain condition. I imagine my personal biochemistry and ability to tolerate stress plays into it as well. You were only on for 1.5 years. Though your recovery may take longer than you would wish, I seriously doubt you’ll take as long as me.

    I do think that once we’re through to the other side of this thing, we’ll be able to count the gifts we’ve received as a result of it. Healthier living is just one of mine. One day I’ll have to do a blog entry on “the gifts.” For now, I have a final exam to study for and an overdue “11 months out” report to write. 🙂

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