Monday, July 19, 2010
It is the angel and the devil all rolled into one small package. Now I am just one person, w/ one experience. My story is probably different than other stories, so it's not a story that you should make any decisions off of, it's just my experience that I have decided to share.
It is July 16th and I am 96 hours into my pain med withdrawal .I am currently having some difficulty standing due to dizziness from the medicine the hospital gave me last night, my fingers ache typing this so this will probably be continued tomorrow, my stomach burns from all the vomiting, and my heart feels like it going at a rapid pace (restlessness, anxiety). This is my "payback" I guess for my somewhat pain relief post surgery..I guess you always got to pay up sometime.
This post is not against pain meds, if it wasn't for pain meds I probably would have died post surgery due to shock alone from the horrific pain, I known people who couldn't live a "normal" life unless it was for these meds, so in that case they are life saving, all I know w/ the relief they give there are prices to pay..something that shouldn't be taken lightly by Dr. or patient. I also think it is unfortunate that insurance companies will seem to ok people taking pain medication most of the time (and they don't always do that which is a whole topic w/in itself) ,but they don't seem to ever ok acupuncture or massage therapy or any holistic medicine that has no side effects afterwards. My Dr after my first surgery gave me a script for acupuncture and my insurance company literally laughed it off. I paid for a few sessions of massage therapy after surgery #2 which felt awesome, but at $100 a pop it wasn't affordable especially after missing so much work after surgery. PT can help, but insurance only gives you a limited amount of sessions. If you want more you really got to fight for it, and I have.
3 surgeries deep on my right hip. First two arthroscopic the most recent was open surgery (surgical dislocation of my right hip), my surgeon even said that it is one of the most painful surgeries a person can have. I was prescribed vicodin and acupunture after my first surgery (labral debridement, microfracturing of rt hip, and removal of loose bodies.) Morphine in the hospital, scripts for vicodin upon leaving. My Vicodin got approved my acupuncture didn't. I was on Vicodin for about 3 weeks regularly post first surgery, and then tapered off and used it only for bad pain days. About a year later my hip tore again in February. I was provided vicodin for my severe pain which I took some nights when I got home from work, didn't have surgery #2 till March. After Surgery Morphine and Dilloted for a few days in the hospital, then pills. Took vicoden again since percoet makes me very sick. Used it for about 3 weeks post surgery. I still had quite a few pills left and on days after a hard PT session or a day at work where I used it a lot I would take one vicodin to help w/ pain if ice and tens unit did not seem to do the trick.
Hip stated to get worse in September went for a few more opinions and found out that my hip had FAI and that I could have a chance to save my hip if I get this open surgery done. I had 5 second opinions that were all in favor of this was my chance to get out of as much pain as my hip would allow w/ out getting a new hip, ( I was not approved for a new hip due to my age and that only 1/2 my hip is damaged.) The pain was pretty severe so I was prescribed more vicodins to help until my surgery date arrived which was a 3 month wait. Hip surgery is not emergency surgery..severe pain that interferes in your every day existence does not count as an emergency. I took the vicodins when I couldn't tolerate the pain anymore.
After my third surgery I was in the hospital and rehab hospital for almost a total of 4 weeks. During that time I was on large quantities of pain meds..I don't even remember much of the first 11 days. After I was taken off the IV pain meds, the morphine pills I took helped extremely w/ the pain..I knew this for 2 reasons #1 I could feel when I was due for the med I almost couldn't breath because of the pain and #2 when I had to go off the morphine for eight hours because of my double blood transfusion I was screaming in pain..even w/ ice packs up and down my leg. The drawback for my pain free time was that I constantly felt seasick, I had a hard time walking w/ my crutches so I always had to be supervised for my dizziness and I had such blurry vision I could hardly see. I left the rehab hospital w/ 2 vicodin every 6 hours..they wanted to give me stronger meds, but I was scared to take them since I tend to have difficulty w/ medication. My allergy bracelet can never hold all the meds I am allergic to..I am that person ;)
I had visiting nurses and PT once I got home, my whole "medical team" thought I couldn't go forward w/ PT and make gains because my pain was stopping me...which it was. My surgeon sent me to a pain clinic..first option was methadone..the new surgical pain relief med, I said NO, it seemed like to strong of a drug and I was worried to take it, in the end I was convinced to do the Fentanyl Patch..they said it was the perfect drug for me..no major side effects and can help seriously w/ my pain. I put it on that afternoon..four hours into the patch I was w/ my OT guy he said I was slurring my words and I didn't look ok..talked to pain clinic they said, "rip it off" it takes 12 hours for the full effect and I was already way drugged out 4 hours in...I got so sick that night..headache, nausea..awful. Next morning took the lower dosage patch and tried again...it really was strong at first, but after a week of feeling "drugged out" I started to get adjusted..graduated visiting PT and started outpatient PT. I was told to use the vicodin every 8 hours for beakthrough pain which I did on my bad days but I stayed away from it on my good. After awhile they wanted to raise my patch dosage, but I decided to stick w/ what I had and deal w/ a little pain. Use it as a indicator.
After 3 months on the patch I just was sick of feeling a little off, memory was not as strong, felt sick to my stomach more often, couldn't go out in the sun (it is summer takes away from that summer fun), lightheaded, depressed, just not completely myself. The pain clinic tried to tell me I should stay on it until I finished PT, I said "nope I want off now", I need to know what kind of pain I am really dealing w/ at this point and if it is tolerable then why stay on drugs. Ripped patch of Monday afternoon.
-Flu like achinesss from my toes to my finger
-abdominal pain so intense it felt like fire
-restlessness/anxiety/ feeling like you didn't want to be in your skin
-depression and crying
Thurs: pain so bad took a trip to local hospital per order of my PCP and Dr at Pain Clinic..had x-rays of my bowels and was given IV drip for fluids, Zofran for nausea, Ativan for anxiety, restlessness and nausea, and clonadine for withdrawal symptoms...so lots of drugs to help w/ getting off drugs..how ironic. I refused to take the vicodin (which they said I should use to ween off patch) since my hip wasn't killing me and I wanted off the pain meds especially after what I was going through.
I am still really hurting but better than yesterday..there is no way I could have typed this yesterday. I want to know when I am going to feel like myself again and when will the symptoms subside. It is truly a HORRIBLE feeling..probably some of the worst days of my life and I have had some bad days. Given what I know now..would I have made the same decisions..possibly..the pain I had in my hip was so great, but I wasn't aware of the consequences for my pain relief..I wasn't taking these pills for fun, so I am not going to get addicted. I may have not been addicted mentally, but I sure was addicted physically come to find out now. It's a question I don't have answers for..do you take the pain meds and suffer later or suffer and hope to get better w/ time and ice packs. It's hard when you don't have consistent medical guidance.I feel like my pain clinic should have been doing a better job looking over me, they were more like drug dealers, they never talked to me about my pain, never asked me to keep a pain journal (my surgeon asked me about this recently and in retrospect that would have been a good idea), they never really talked much about my pain..more about how I felt on the meds, paid a $20 co-pay for a 5 minute apt where we pretty much discussed nothing, but they got their money and I left w/ my new script.....and a return apt card.
As patients we should be given all options to help us from moderate to more intense. If we take pain medication it should be monitored closely and the patient should be watched carefully and should have true support from their medical team when coming off of it. We should be allowed and be given the right to have covered by our insurance alternative and non addictive pain relief options as a viable option if we choose. And no one should be denied pain relief if needed...everyone deserves a chance to function to the best of their ability. They should just be done as safe as possible...is that to much to ask for from our health care?? Should a person who is already suffering from one ailment have to suffer more because they trust in what there Dr's are giving them to "help" them??? Just something to think about...well it something I am definitely thinking about.
Posted by SJ at 12:41 AM