I’m in a stupid self-perpetuated cycle of waiting until the last possible moment to request a refill of my pain medication, and then having to stretch out my current supply so I won’t be without. I’ve got the tapering system down perfectly – very few physical withdrawal symptoms (reducing from 300mg to 100mg makes me sneeze constantly for 3 days, but so does grass pollen). My mind also runs circles around me at light speed. This is my brain off drugs and the return of the mindswirl after a drug-induced quiescent period is extremely overwhelming. Not to mention I just plain fucking hurt everywhere more than anywhere else. I’m sure I sound like I’m stuck on repeat because I do this entirely too often. That’s life, yo. Same shit, different day.
My husband doesn’t like to see me suffer, and he also doesn’t like me as much when I’m in serious pain. I’m not as nice when I hurt. I don’t necessarily get mean, but I don’t think things through as much before speaking (blame mindswirlies). My pain tongue is sharp and pointy. Despite what he thinks, I won’t die without my pain medication.
If there’s one thing that motivates me to go to my appointments more than anything else, it’s the pain. The possibility of having that pain fixed or reduced. After a few years and zero help on that front, me and the PCM’s resorted to as-needed pain medication. If you’re a doctor and you give me pain medication, you won’t see my face again unless my stomach is falling out of my mouth, or I’m otherwise about ready to die. If I’m at a 4 or 5 instead of a 7 or 8, I don’t care enough to show up for the routine wasting of time. I enjoy complacency. I enjoy being able to sleep for more than a two hour stretch. I enjoy not being in extreme pain.
Notice I haven’t said anything about enjoying not being in any pain. That’s just a dream. They call it pain management, not pain relief. Sure, you get SOME relief from the pain being managed, but it doesn’t completely eradicate it. Short of being hooked up to an IV pump with endless dilaudid and never pooping again because of it (another dream of mine), I don’t think I’ll ever experience a day even remotely close to a zero.
One of the things I don’t understand is the notion that long-term prescription opioid use causes increased pain the longer it’s used. There is such a thing as tolerance to the drug in question, but it doesn’t mean the pain gets worse. It’s used as a reason to avoid prescribing them for uses other than acute pain, even though there’s no solid scientific evidence supporting it. Just anecdotal reports cherry-picked by the anti-opioid propagandists.
While we’re on the topic of acute pain, I’d rather break both ankles every 3 months than deal with my normal pain. No universe, this isn’t a challenge for you, so cool your fucking jets!
If you’re in severe pain for long enough, you become accustomed to it, but it doesn’t make it any less miserable. Pain medications reduce this burden, and once you get used to this new baseline, quitting will obviously cause your pain to rebound to previous levels. In my experience, they aren’t made worse. I’m just reminded how much pain I was in to begin with. It’s a spiffy thing to forget. It’s more difficult to tolerate when I know I have an option to not be in as much pain. Does this make me a wimp? Or an efficient manager of resources?
Outside of mental turmoil, chronic severe pain physically effects the body on multiple levels. Cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, neurological, and a partridge in a pear tree. Persistent pain screws everything up. The CRPS flares in my feet and legs are more frequent and severe when I’m not taking my drugs like a good little girl. My abdominal pain is worse, which increases my nausea and decreases my appetite. Granted, the pain and nausea make me less likely to eat stuff I know I shouldn’t, but there’s a reason I weighed less than 90 pounds not too terribly long ago. All of the antidepressants, meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness in the world won’t do squat to help me function in my “normal”/optimal range, which is admittedly unsatisfactory anyhow. My whole body on fire means I rarely get to experience those few decent hours each day. Simple math lesson: three hours is greater than zero hours. To me, it makes all of the difference.
Why suffer excessively if I don’t have to? Four possible explanations are a touch of madness, reevaluation of what hurts “real bad” versus what sort of hurts, the very real likelihood of having my pain medication cut off, and attempting to make myself do things I don’t want to but might do if I’m uncomfortable enough. Masochism, basically.
If honey badger don’t give a shit, she’s going to sit on her ass at home and play PC games instead of going to see her
sadists doctors. I need to see the orthopedic back specialist to get my funky spine squared away so I can at least say I’ve been there, and done that. There’s this thing that can happen when the nerves at the base of the spine get compressed – cauda equina syndrome – it can lead to permanent incontinence and even paralysis of the legs. That was the last thing my PCM said to me before he tried to shoo me away to ortho. His attempt at putting the fear in me. Whaaaatever, dude. You may as well tell me Elvis didn’t really die on the toilet, he lives on the moon. The joke was on me when I temporarily lost feeling in my sensitive bits. Elvis really DOES live on the moon.
This whole idea that I’ll magically become a perfect patient by abstaining from pain medication, thus increasing my motivation, isn’t working out as planned. A zebra can’t change her stripes. If anything, it makes me more disillusioned with the state of healthcare and life in general. Perhaps I’ve finally realized the futility of it all. That means I’m free! No more doctors!
HAHAHAHA, that’s a good one! <filling out refill request>