Tapering can be tricky when the science comes down to a milligram of how much medicine you take. Several months ago, I used to just eye it. I’d look at the pill and cut it in half. With the larger dosage when I first started my tapering, maybe that was more acceptable. However, in my smaller doses, those milligrams seem to be much more important. Every milligram counts!

Thank god for the milligram scale. This seems to be the hot item that every pill-cutter uses. And with that, the comedy routine begins. It seems that we all have OCD when it comes to cutting pills for our tapering process. Because we feel certain that if we’re off by even 1 milligram it might send us into some horrible panic attack. This is a process that requires precision and precision takes time.

I never thought about what a burden cutting pills could be. First you have to calibrate the scale. It comes with a 10g weight. You turn it on, and check that weight. If it is a few milligrams up or down, you’ll need to turn it off and turn it on again. Every milligram is important. If after 5 times or so, it still isn’t exact, you do the calibration process. Press and hold the ‘on’ button until it flashes ‘CAL’. Put the 10g weight on and press and hold ‘on’ again until it flashes ‘10.000’. Push ‘off’, take off the weight and turn it on again. Check the 10g weight and find that it is reading at 10.002. Now you could accept that and weigh your medicine at .002g heavier, but maybe the scale is faulty. You want it working at its best performance. So you repeat the whole process.

By now, you’re realizing that the hunched over position you are in, as you study the scale and weight, is beginning to trigger that burning sensation in your back that withdrawal causes. You adjust your position and repeat the process. Every milligram matters!

Finally! The weight measures at 10g! Once you get that correct weight, you can begin the cutting process. For me, I cut a pill in half. Then I cut the quarter in half. Then I cut the eighth in half. This is as far as I can go visually. For the rest, I’ll need to cut and shave the pill. It’s time to weigh. But oh no! I took too long cutting the pill and the scale has utilized our 21st technology to automatically turn itself off! By the way, 15 minutes have already passed and I haven’t even weighed the first pill yet. I’m frustrated but remind myself that every milligram matters.

Ok. No problem. I repeat all the calibration steps again until the scale is once again ready. I put the slightly less than an 1/8th of the pill on the scale. It’s too heavy. I’m going to have to shave a bit off. I grab the crumb of a pill, but for no reason whatsoever, I drop it like an idiot. I hear it land somewhere in my bed stand drawer. I start emptying the drawer contents but I can’t find it anywhere. Maybe it was on something that I took out of the drawer and fell into the carpet. It’s lost. Because I don’t have control over my emotions due to withdrawal and my back is burning worse than ever, I start swearing out loud. I can see the milligram scale fluctuating as it reacts to the air from my swearing. I’m going to have to start all over again.

My head is foggy and I’m not thinking clearly and I’m horribly sleepy from insomnia (yet more wonderful symptoms of withdrawal.) I overlook (again) the idea that the scale might turn off if I take too long. I start slicing the first pill. When I go to cut it into eighths, the pressure of the knife sends half the crumb flying in the air across the room, probably joining fellow pill crumbs in the lush carpet. It’s ok. I still have the other half of a pill crumb to work with. At this point I start holding my breath which as already difficult to do with my air hunger (another withdrawal symptom.) I don’t want anything to go wrong. I don’t want my air to accidentally blow part of the pill on to the floor, and I don’t want my air to affect the scale. I pick up the pill crumb and notice that scale has turned off again. 25 minutes have now passed.

I re-calibrate the scale and go to measure the pill. It’s too light. I cut it a bit too much. Luckily, I have been saving my crumbs in another pill container. I put on my glasses, take the tweezers and start adding the dust-like particles to the scale until it reaches the correct weight. I’m holding my breath again. There we go! Now, I have the correct amount. It’s at 0.015g. I did it! I pick up the container and dump it into my mouth. But something is wrong. Did it all go in my mouth? I only feel one crumb in my mouth, and there should be three!

Now I’m faced with the very dilemma that I was trying to avoid from the very beginning – getting the correct dose! Do I take more to compensate for what appears might have also fallen into the carpet? Or do I skip the rest of the dose? Maybe I got it right. I’m just not certain. Either way, the process itself is causing way too much anxiety and anyone that walks barefoot on my carpet is going to get a dose of benzos if I don’t vacuum.

“Hang in there” to all my fellow pill-cutters!