When the pain in her back became too much to manage, she was prescribed Codeine Phosphate. It resulted in a range of serious consequences.
I simply did not realise that Codeine Phosphate is a strong opiate.
My back had been hurting for a long time – probably caused by degeneration in my spine. My breathing was also affected, so to help me become more active, I was prescribed Codeine Phosphate – up to eight 15mg tablets per day. I simply did not realise that it is a strong opiate.
I took the full amount of the prescribed dose over several months. Over that time, I became increasingly clumsy, tired, detached, had little confidence and felt physically weak, achy, and fearful. The back pain was eased, but not massively. I continued with the codeine because it continued to be prescribed.
I put how I was feeling down to a progression of the Sjogren’s Syndrome, getting older and perhaps even the medicine. I was on 12 different tablets, so it was difficult to know which one was the culprit.
Once I understood that Codeine Phosphate is an opioid that can bring serious side effects, I made the decision to come off it.
I was increasingly zombie-like.
It was an overwhelming and scary time.
I’d seen a locum at my GP practice who wasn’t in a position to support my withdrawal. So, I simply stopped taking it, relying purely on paracetamol for pain relief.
It was unwise to come off it so rapidly. It should have been a slower, supervised withdrawal, but I was determined to stay off.
I saw improvements after just three days. The fog in my brain was clearing and I could start to plan.
It was a long road. After four months I felt more like myself, more purposeful. I was still overwhelmed by decision making and found it difficult to mix with groups of people, but it was clear to me and others that I was improving.
I lost a year of my life to this drug.
Today I am more positive and work out my own plan for better health. I use a wide variety of techniques to maintain my physical and mental well-being. One of the simple things I do, is drink a pint of milk to boost my calcium intake. I rest when I need to. I am better at pacing and prioritising my activities and have been supported hugely by my local Pain Management team who phone regularly with advice and positive guidance.
I manage my pain daily only on paracetemol. I am very grateful to all those who have helped me, particularly my wonderful family and recently several kind, skilled and interested health care professionals.
I shudder at the thought of having to take Codeine Phosphate again. I will never use it for long term pain management.