Friday, February 22, 2013

Obnoxious Opiates and Toddler Issues

The story of any struggle with Myalgia must include some "laugh about it now" story about opiates. My own decade long saga includes several "Annadotes" that I try to tell in a funny way but if I'm not careful they come across as bitter or pathetic.

This week pain medications are on my mind because even though I am on "Mommy Leave" or disabled status I still read all the Centers for Disease Control press releases and the latest one is that deaths from overdose of opiate medication has risen for the 11th year in a row. When I read this and posted it to the Myalgia Mommies Facebook page, I felt a lump in my gut.

Anyone with a real chronic pain condition knows the frustration of meeting with a new doctor or seeking emergency treatment and wanting to scream "this is not drug seeking behavior!" For me, the last thing I want is pain medicine, it only makes you not care that you are in pain, it doesn't really ever make the pain entirely go away. At least it never has for me.

When I am seeking treatment it is always with the hope that there is a new drug or therapy that will address my specific condition and treat it, not just a pain medicine that will make me numb to the world.

As a Mother, I would never drink and drive. When I get a phone call while driving, I have my older daughter play personal assistant and answer for me. So I don't want to take any level of drugs that would endanger my most precious darlings. (I have driven with one eye closed due to a blinding migraine but I can still focus on the road.)

For years I have struggled to learn to take my opiates correctly. My neurologist has explained pain as a rising curve and told me to take the medicine when I feel the beginning of a bad flare. If you take the medicine when you are already in great pain it won't be effective. I invariably wait until it is too late. I only remember that I have narcotic pain medicine to take when I am in excruciating pain and by then it is "too late" and the medicine only takes the edge off.

Many years ago, the first time I took a daily slow release of OxyContin, a young family member had a friend who became an addict taking the same drug recreationally and ended up in rehab. I made the mistake back then of telling family members what medications I was taking. In those days my illness was new and I was looking to in laws for support. I only made that mistake once.

Under pressure from guilt I weaned off the opiate and the overwhelming pain and resulting time confined to my bed led to a horrible depression. Fortunately, I was under the care of excellent doctors who convinced me of the need to resume a course of treatment that included pain medication.

This week has been a lovely adventure. My 16 month old is a dare devil extraordinaire. She delights in climbing on the kitchen table and flinging herself into my arms. She choke holds and rides my poor cat. When my back and nerves are completely shot and I think I can't go on she tenderly hugs me and gives the sweetest kisses. She also sits on my back. This baby brings me her book, says "read it" and if I don't move fast enough hits me with the book. The pain of being hit with a book distracts me from my fibro flare.

In order to make it thru a bad I use two different muscle relaxants that I alternate in order to keep from forming a tolerance.  In my medicine cabinet I have an opiate pain medicine (Vicodin) that I intentionally ignore because I know that if I take if two days in a row, on the third day I will have a rebound headache from the drug. So I push it to the back of the cupboard and try everything else first.

I can only take oxycontin and dilauded because I have an allergic reaction to Morphine.  I learned this in a fun way that led to me ordering our living room furniture in white when my older daughter was a little over a year old. Fortunately the couch and matching chair had removable covers and my exploration of the different properties of cleaning products began.

I hope this news of abuse doesn't make it harder for us Myalgia Mommies to get the medication that we need. On a deeper level I hope with all my heart that there aren't women out there overwhelmed and in pain who ignore the dosing instructions and take too many pills. The pain medicine can help. It also kills.

The temptation to take extra pills thinking that they might work better or add more relief is easy to sympathize with, particularly for someone who is recently diagnosed. After my many years of trying to find a good mix of therapy, I understand the importance of keeping medication in reserve for when it is really needed. Our bodies build tolerances to everything. The rising death count reported by the CDC indicate that at a certain level the pain medicine is deadly. 

The moral of this story is try harder to go without or use less not more. Lying on the couch with my aromatherapy pillow over my eyes I am with my girls. Listening to them play and watch TV. I can breathe thru thru a bad day and be there for tomorrow. Please keep this in mind and always take less than needed not more.

If you read my other blog, The Silver Ribbon Campaign, you will learn that I lost my Mother to a brain disease. I dearly hope this blog can provide a Myalgia Mommy with the knowledge that you are not alone and thousands of other women also live with daily pain, and take pain medicine only as prescribed.

I write while my baby naps. My body also cries out for a nap in this cold weather and I need another cup of coffee and to bury myself under a blanket.

Cheers,
ALJ

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