The pain of pain meds – Pain medication prescriptions are difficult to obtain and scary to use. What horror stories do you have because of new laws? Maybe you have been treated badly at the pharmacy or by family members? Tell your story today
This one is really simple. And really personal. It comes down to this.
Without daily opioid pain medications my life is endless torture. Almost every joint in my body is inflamed and painful, every day. And it’s the kind of pain that cannot be worked through, pushed passed or be distracted from. The kind of pain that invades every cell of your being and wraps you in a bear hug that’s way too tight, and you cannot breathe. The kind of pain that, if I knew it was going to continue forever, every minute of every day of my life, with no hope of respite, I would not be able to cope. I would choose my time and say my good byes.
I’m not being dramatic. I’m being honest.
I have reached that point before. I have laid in my bed night after night, staring at the ceiling unable to move, unable to think, just…unable. And my only bright spot, my only ray of hope was telling myself that when my kids are old enough and independent, I can opt out. I can end the pain. I don’t want to die. I want to live. But a life with that pain, always there, is not living. And there is only one way to make the pain stop.
While that sounds pretty desolate – and it was – there is a solution for me. Opioids. They don’t take the pain away, but they take the edge off enough so that I can get out of bed and function for a few hours. Live a kind of life. Nothing like my old life, but still a life worth living. A life that is more than just intolerable pain.
That’s what opioids can do for me. They are a life-saving medication, for me.
I have written at length on the issues and the ‘opioid crisis’ as I see it. Lene Andersen has written an excellent piece on opioids, which includes the relevant statistics. And with addiction being such a major concern, what do the statistics say? At the highest estimate, including those with previous addiction problems, only 3% become addicted to pain medication.
I’m sorry. I’m just not seeing the opioid crisis.
The crisis is in pain management.
I have tried simple analgesics, anti-depressants, acupuncture, exercise, physical therapy, nutritional therapy, heat packs, ice packs, massage and medications for nerve pain. None of these have been effective enough to allow me to stand up for more than five minutes.
The treatment of last resort is opioids.
To get my pain medications I need to see my GP once a month. I need an authority phoned through to a government department, who approve and monitor my opioid use. It is well regulated, highly monitored and it is impossible to legally get these drugs any other way. I cannot ‘doctor shop’. It is a good system and I have no problem with these restrictions. I find them to be appropriate, effective and not a great hardship to manage.
However, because I take different doses of oxycodone and I take both slow release daily, and immediate release for break through pain, I usually have three different forms of oxycodone on hand. 10mg slow release for the morning, 20mg slow release for night time and 10mg immediate release oxycodone for breath through pain during the day.
Ideally, I get all of these scripts filled at the same time each month. But because my usage varies, sometimes they get offset, and I have to go for three separate appointments to get these prescriptions filled. Tedious, yes. But also expensive, and difficult for me because, well, I’m in pain!
This month there was a 2 day lag. I would run out of both slow release meds two days before I could refill my immediate release oxycodone. I decided to go without the slow release for those two days, so that I could just attend and pay for the one appointment.
I suspected it would be difficult, and it was.
Day one, without slow release meds I used two extra immediate release doses to get through the day, and another two extra to get through the night. As it was I only slept four hours. All my joints were on fire. Sleep only came from sheer exhaustion, and I started the next day on the back foot.
Day two, I woke in massive pain. My body hadn’t rested at all, and had no time to recover. It took a double dose of immediate release to be able to walk at all. With the double dose comes side effects like nausea, dizziness, that drugged feeling and the itches. I never got on top of the pain all day. I lay down most of the day, only getting up to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t eat, too much pain. I couldn’t think. Too much pain. I couldn’t function at all. Too much pain.
I went to bed and lay in bed all night with my lower spine, hips, knees, ankles ,toes, shoulders, elbows, fingers, C-spine, jaw, ribs…EVERYThing burning, aching, stabbing. I couldn’t roll over. Couldn’t sleep on either hip or shoulder. Could only lie flat on my back. (I sleep on my back every night.) I slept a total of 2 hours and 37 minutes, after the previous night of almost 4 hours.
This morning I was exhausted and in agony from the moment I opened my eyes. I needed the double dose again to get myself down to the GP to fill my script. He filled it with no comment, except that I looked terrible and we laughed. No problem to get the script, but big problem to get on top of this pain now. I have spent all day chasing pain. Taking extra doses, just to get to a point where I can function. Hopefully tonight I will be able to sleep, and sleep will help me reset my body.
Tomorrow I will have had 24 hours of slow release oxycodone in my system, buffering my pain and I should start to get back to my ‘normal’ where I have 2 or 3 functional hours.
Those hours are very important to me. Only oxycodone gives them to me. They are all I have. They ARE my life.
The past two days have reminded me just how painful my disease really is, and I only went without my slow release meds. It’s a stark reminder that I could not exist if all my opioids were taken away.
Yes I am dependent on opioids, but that clearly isn’t my biggest concern. Much more pressing is a life of needless suffering, for the sake of some political agenda. And a life of endless, needless suffering is what my GP will be condemning me to if he decides to stop filling my prescriptions.