Stomach Pain from Prescriptions

two old goats lotion
I’ll stick with nonprescription pain relieving methods. Two Old Goats lotion is great.

I’ve been taking 20mg of piroxicam for a couple of months. The only side effect I’d noticed is sun sensitivity. No matter how much sunscreen I wear, my face always looks a little burned at night if I’ve been outside most of the day. I wasn’t happy about that, but the medicine was helping with my chronic pain and stiffness and I felt like I could deal with the sunburn. But last week, I started having stomach pain.

At first I blamed the stomach pain on a few slipups in my usually perfect diet. I’d allowed a little cheese here and there and eaten some wheat-based crackers and cereal. I’d had peanut butter instead of almond butter on my apple at breakfast, and figured the combination of dietary sins was to blame for my stomach pain.

I cleaned up my diet again, and the stomach pain got worse. A couple of nights ago I couldn’t sleep because I felt like I was hugely bloated and my stomach burned bad. I felt nauseous after eating and my morning chem-free decaf coffee felt like acid in my stomach. I picked up the Walgreens handout that came with the piroxicam, and, like all NSAIDS, can cause major stomach problems.

I decided to stop taking it immediately even though I was fearful of severe muscle spasms returning and chronic pain worsening. The burning in my stomach was too much to ignore, so I also picked up some generic Prevacid at the pharmacy.

I’ve been two days without piroxicam, and so far my muscles aren’t any sorer than usual and my back isn’t aching worse than usual. I managed a 20-minute run and hour-long walk yesterday. My hot tub and a bottle of Two Old Goats lotion are doing the trick so far.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that our western approach to medicine often creates more problems than it solves, especially when dealing with chronic health conditions. It sometimes seems like one pill begets another. We’ve come a long way in medicine, but we still have a long way to go. I’m going to stay off of all prescriptions as long as possible and keep my diet perfect again and see what happens.

Insurance Rip-off

I’m no stranger to the pitfalls of health insurance, but yesterday I had one of the worst experiences yet with my policy. I pay a huge amount of money every month for coverage in exchange for what appeared on paper to be a solid policy as far as health insurance goes. I changed policies within the same company for the new year to avoid a $300 per month increase in monthly fees, and chose a new policy that seemed very similar with a few minor changes like the deductible and out of pocket max. Then I tried to actually use the policy, and what a hell of a rude awakening.

For starters, it only covers one local hospital—not the one five minutes from my house. It also doesn’t cover the orthopedic institute that I’ve been going to for years for my neck and back issues. I was fuming. I’m guilty of not checking the provider directory before enrolling in the policy, but I assumed that since it’s an expensive policy in the same tier as my former policy (platinum) AND it’s with the same company, I’d be fine. Not even close.

I decided to wait until I got home to deal with the particulars and hopefully change the policy while open enrollment is still active. I stopped by Walgreens to pick up my refill of the only prescription I’m routinely taking—Piroxicam—and was told by the pharmacist that my policy doesn’t contract with Walgreens. What? I asked for details. All he knew was that I’d have to contact the company to figure out where I could actually go to get the medication my doctor prescribed. I went from feeling angry to feeling completely enraged. My expensive health insurance had rapidly become a barrier to my good health.

After a lot of phone calls, I was able to have the prescription transferred to CVS and to cancel my policy and activate a new one effective February 1. But if I’d figured out what a rip-off my insurance was after open enrollment closed, I’d have been screwed by that policy for at least six months. In effect, I would’ve been forced to use a hospital system that I don’t ever want to use. Just because a hospital is covered doesn’t mean I should be forced to use it when I need medical care. I’m so disgusted. For-profit companies that we pay huge monthly premiums to should not have a say in where we go for healthcare and medications, especially when the providers we want to use are in our hometown. My new policy will cost almost $300 more per month just so that I can continue to use doctors I’ve known for years. If there’s a word stronger than disgust, I feel it.

Piroxicam and Tizanidine

Piroxicam 20mg

After ditching Lyrica, I resolved to do whatever I could to stay off prescription drugs. Very rarely, I took one Skelaxin for muscle spasms. The side effects weren’t worth it most of the time, but sometimes I would be so bad off that I had to take one. As the one-year anniversary of my back and hip issues neared, I couldn’t take the daily pain and stiffness anymore. I made an appointment with the doctor who’s worked on my neck in the past. He’s smart, isn’t afraid of the latest medical technology, and perhaps most importantly, he actually spends time with his patients and listens like a human rather than a hurried robot. Unfortunately, those attributes make it very hard to get an appointment, and I waited two months despite being an established patient.

When I did finally see him, he examined my back and hip and told me a few things I already know, like I have tight muscles and joint laxity. He decided to order a lumbar MRI, which wasn’t a surprise. He also talked me into filling a couple of prescriptions because he was very worried about my high pain levels and lack of sleep. I left his office with two scripts I’d never heard of before—Piroxicam and Tizanidine.

I thought I might not fill the drugs, but pain wore me down and I headed to the pharmacy. I figured I could try them once or twice and get off them quickly if they sucked. Piroxicam is an NSAID pain reliever and Tizanidine is a short-acting muscle relaxer. I was given instructions to take the Piroxicam once per day and the Tizanidine up to three times per day. I took one of each the first night, and was asleep within an hour.

Going to sleep quickly is a big deal with a body wracked by chronic pain. Hell, going to sleep at all is monumental. When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t feel hung over at all—I just felt better. I felt genuinely rested, unlike the crappy, forced sleep that comes from some drugs.

Tizanidine 4mg
Tizanidine 4mg

For several days, I took one Piroxicam in the evening and one Tizanidine before bed, and I felt great. I hiked 21 miles one weekend, and began to feel hopeful about a mostly pain-free back, neck, and hip. As always, I follow a healthy diet and use my hot tub as much as three times per day. The good food, warm water, and new prescriptions gave me a feeling of freedom from pain, and it was priceless.

That feeling was also short-lived. After almost a week, I noticed my back pain was getting more intense again, and my neck felt badly out of alignment. This seems to be the curse with my fibromyalgia—something new helps for a little while, but before long, I’m back to hurting.

I took a break from my nightly muscle relaxer routine and didn’t notice much of a change. However, I’m now on day two of no Piroxicam, and I feel like crap. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to start taking it again, but I’m leaning toward yes. I’m scheduled for the MRI this afternoon, and if I get stiff having to lie still for it, I’ll probably come home and pop a Piroxicam.

Have y’all tried either one of these medications? If so, what’s been your experience? I’d love to hear from you.