I’ll admit it – I’m struggling with addiction ever since being hospitalized at the end of July. That’s 3 months of being on strong painkillers. Now, if certain lawmakers and doctors read this they’ll think, “There you go, that patient is abusing their drugs! Limit them!” That’s not what I said. I said I’m struggling. Keep reading.
The truth is, I own a nice little corner of a pharmacy in my own home. I can treat a multitude of ailments that would force most ‘normal’ people into urgent care at the very minimum. So you can believe that if I show up on your ER doorstep asking for further pain medication, you better believe its real.
Yet, there are endless stigmas attached to asking for these meds that lawmakers and HCPs continue to further. They see drug-abusing patients; make judgments and laws that we afflicted patients then suffer for.
On twitter, it has been said best. ‘Would you deny a diabetic their insulin? Or a cancer patient their chemo?’ Neither of these patients chose their illnesses, and their choice to be well is not stigmatized. Why then, are chronic pain patients limited in the medication they desperately need to treat their conditions?
I am highly fortunate that my doctors are not denying me pain medication. In fact, I recently emailed my GP and told her I planned to step down to a lesser strength pain medication that I already had on hand, and wanted to make sure that was safe. The response was an immediate phone call from her office manager asking when I could come in. A few hours later, I sat before my doctor being told she feared for me trying to be too tough, and as she filled out the triplicate forms for more of the strong meds, she insisted that this was not the time to be tough.
I have a disease that is actively eating at my bones and soft tissues (sound painful?), and I am only just now getting medicines in my system to treat the underlying problem. Similar meds have either failed me, or I’ve been forced off them to save my life in the previous months and years.
We made a deal. She would allow me enough to get through the next couple weeks till my new meds (should) kick in, then I could try and be tough.
I’ve done this so many times before. The ugly detox: the shaking, the sweating, the racing heart, the vomiting, the heinous migraines, the trips to the ER. I already successfully tapered off Oxycontin on my own. If success can be measured in the number of hospital blue vomit bags I went through.
Now I am left with Dilaudid. I want so badly to go back to the clear-headed “as needed” days of Tramadol or Percocet. But my body has been sent into a tailspin due to my disease and I have little choice physically, and my mind exists in a less than focused state (notice how I HAD to use notes during my #MedX talk?).
Judgey lawmakers and HCPs assume that I’m getting high. Hardly. The only high that chronic pain patients feel is a lack of pain, if we’re lucky. This is where I find myself struggling.
I stare at the bottom of my Dilaudid bottle knowing this is it. I use these, and this evil relationship is over. My days and nights focus around taking as little as I possibly can to try to get to that end point of not needing something so strong, of not having my body crave it - that is if my condition improves. This is where the tough part comes in. Separating my body’s cravings, from my mental desire to be totally pain free.
Any chronic pain patient can tell you we are never totally free from pain. But it is really tempting to get close, to free ourselves from the ever-nagging heinous hell of pain.
I stand there, bottle in hand, debating. What do I want my life ruled by? This miniature white pill that seems to laugh at my plight, or do I want to be ruled by the mental strength that I have worked 20 years to gain?
Simple. I am stronger than that. My mind, though currently tempted, is not addicted. Now, just to convince my body of that.
*If you live in a state where your right to proper pain management is being threatened, I encourage you to contact your lawmakers via email, twitter, whatever! Hell, send them a picture of what pain looks like for you. We need to put a halt to these dangerous laws before they go too far.