Access to pain pills is not a cause I chose. I didn’t wake up one day and think, “Gee, more people need opioids.”
No, access to pain pills is a cause that chose me. Because I really did wake up one day two and half years ago, and say, “What is wrong with me? Why do I suddenly have insane pain in my ribs?”
It’s a pain that never went away. And for months, the doctors didn’t take me seriously. They gave me prescription-strength Advil, Lidoderm patches, and told me to wear looser bras.
None of that worked.
So, for weeks on end, the pain got worse and worse, while I tried multiple doctors, trying to find someone who could help.
I was in so much pain that I would often lay down on the ground mid-sentence because I didn’t have it in me to keep standing. The pain was just that overwhelming.
And at night, after trying to survive the day, I would lay in bed and plan ways to commit suicide. I wish I was exaggerating.
Finally, I found a pain specialist who put me on hydrocodone. At the time I had no idea that opioids were controversial. I was just happy to finally have found something that gave me relief.
The problem with hydrocodone though is that it comes with these crazy spikes. So you take a pill, it relieves the pain and then it completely wears off within a couple hours — and you to wait six hours for your next dose. It’s a horrible way to live.
I’m also on a time-released morphine that lasts about 8 hours. I take it three times a day — so I am always on an opioid, 24 hours a day. And then, on top of that, I also take hydrocodone as needed.
I pretty much always need it.
The pain still gets bad. But now, because of the pain pills, I have times when I am nearly pain free. Times when I can catch my breath and remember that life is worth living.
Opioids have literally saved my life.
Which is why I’m so upset about TIME magazine’s cover story about the “worst addiction crisis America has ever seen.”
I realized when I read the article that I am spoiled by my Facebook news feed. I tend to follow chronic pain groups, so most of the information I see is about how chronic pain patients need access to these drugs. As a result, I’ve been lulled into thinking that the chronic pain community is actually making progress on this issue.
Apparently, we aren’t.
And it is articles like this that make it that much harder for pain patients like me to get the relief they need.
Let’s break down what it gets so wrong, with some quotes from the report.