It’s not hard to find an article about the “Great American War on Pain (Meds)”, whether it’s a personal account or news about what our lawmakers are(n’t) doing for us….I mean protecting us from. Screw that brain tumor and spinal degeneration, chick, we WILL SAVE YOU FROM DAH DRUGS!!!!! ( whether you need it or not).
I never asked to be in this club, and I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be others out there that feel the same way, but I can only speak for myself, so other than the linked articles, these words are mine. This has been MY experience. The good, the bad, the really bad, the ugly, and the humiliating.
My personal journey with chronic pain started back in the 90’s with a misdiagnosed congenital leg length discrepancy. (I have congenital hip dysplasia….by itself not surprisingly unusual. But my case….the defect was missed my entire childhood, and then only begun to be discovered via a really ridiculous diagnonsense of “my left leg being 1.5 cm shorter than my right leg. Specifically, my left femur.”)
Fast forward about 15 years, throw a correct diagnosis of Congenital Hip Dysplasia in there (which by now has begun to affect my spine), a total hip replacement surgery, 4 months of rehab and PT, and a good dose of double pneumonia. (Side note: I also had nerve damage in my left arm) and you have somebody rolling into 2008-2009, discovering she has some serious pain.
So once I rolled all the O2 tanks out of my house because they were no longer needed, and tried to get on with my life, I found that I still hurt. A lot. All over.
I got told I was crazy, I got told I needed to see a therapist, I even had “potential drug seeking behavior, potential addiction? Anxiety disorder, h/x of eating disorder. Counseling suggested.” put in my chart.
“You just need some gentle exercise.”
“You just need to find a hobby.”
I have put myself through:
TriggerPoint Injections (still do. Sometimes they actually do help)
Nerve conduction studies in both arms, twice
massages twice a month (GOD I miss Susan, my massage therapist)
Deep Breathing exercises
Cervical Steroid Injections
& Radio-frequency Ablation for C6-C7 (twice)
All before they would consider any kind of drug therapy.
Then I had to run the gamete on all the different SSRI’s, SSNRI’s, and SNRI’s . I failed every 2 week trial. Sick as hell and exhausted, I would crawl back into my doctor’s office and plead with him to change my medication. Every time I had symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome. But I didn’t know it then. (I DO NOT do well on any kind of SSNRanything.)
Then it was Lyrica (pregabalin). Not bad, it worked (sorta), but I gained 30 pounds and my cholesterol shot up to 260 total. So I tapered off that and we tried Neurontin (Gabapentin). Which wasn’t bad, but the higher the dose went, the closer I had to be to my toilet until I finally cried “uncle!!” and told my doc I was afraid to leave the damn house!
This brings us up to 2010, when I moved to Merryland. I landed in the clinic of my new primary care with all of these records and she:
1) Immediately put me in for EFM (Exceptional Family Member status for the families of active duty.) (side note: I got EFM5, if you know what that means you get it. But Chief is retired now, so it doesn’t really matter anymore.)
2) Filled out all my paperwork to get me a disabled placard. She was incensed that no-one else had handled that based on my hip replacement alone.
3) Filled out the paperwork that would allow me to ask for my student loans to be discharged since I now was “officially disabled” and could not work.
4) Referred me to an actual pain management clinic for the first time.
In 2011, I was under some form of anesthesia 13 times for procedures. One for a cystoscopy, the other 12 for various shots into my C-spine. So, anyone can see that I was willing to put myself through just about anything to try to feel better.
Late 2010, early 2011 is when I was finally allowed to have long term pain medication prescribed to me.
Now, I have 6 monthly prescriptions from my pain clinic and neurologist. Three of those I physically have to go pick up the prescription and take it to the pharmacy. Everything is tracked and followed. My doctors and my pharmacists work with me and everybody reports everything to everyone else AND the insurance company.I follow all their rules, jump through all their hoops, never miss or reschedule an appointment with my pain clinic, and I submit to urine tests when mandated.
I follow all their embarrassing, humiliating, difficult rules and jump through the hoops because the pain meds I get allow me to function most of the time. They allow me to run my house and homeschool my child.
That’s all I want to do is live my life, so I play their games.
THIS is the face of a chronic pain patient:
Trigeminal Meningioma, left side diagnosed 06/2014 ; Congenital Hip Dysplasia corrected with a Birmingham total hip replacement 11/2007 ; Migraines, Trigeminal Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, and nerve damage present in both arms.
I am not an addict. I am not a junkie. I’m a mother, a sister, a wife, a best friend, a daughter. And I just want to try to live the life I have left. And I need my meds to try to do that.