I have chronic pain. When the pain is severe, I try many things before I get the pill bottle out. I want people to know that I do not want to take opioids because of the scrutiny and stigma attached, but I must because they make my life livable.
I have tried a long list of things to stop the pain, and I eliminated what didn’t work. Now I have a pretty good set routine of what does work, and that includes prescribed opioid medication as a last resort.
When the pain becomes debilitating, I usually start out with a heating pad in my chair, then lay down or sometimes combine the two. Expensive over the counter creams and prescription ointments are scattered all over the bathroom counter. I get entirely undressed a few times a day to put them on, only to soothe the pain, not eliminate it.
Sometimes, the only thing that works to stop the pain is a prescribed opioid pill. Because of this, taking away my medicine will significantly reduce my quality of life and those around me.
I can take care of all my basic hygiene EVERY DAY when I manage my pain with opioids. I cannot shower, wash my hair, shave my legs, brush my teeth, put on my makeup as “normal” people do in the morning. I have to spread it out over the day. I have to make choices every day of what activities I am going to attempt because I know I cannot do all of them all. Things, like washing my hair or showering are tough for me. There is so much bending and twisting involved when getting undressed, bathing, drying off and finally, getting dressed again.
I can cook healthy meals for my family when I manage my pain with opioids. Prepping and cooking requires lots of standing. Standing or walking increases my pain. I start prepping for dinner in the morning, and I also work on prepping in the early afternoon after I have laid down at lunch. Some days the only thing I accomplish is cooking dinner. Without opioids, I cannot cook every day for my family or myself.
My relationships with others are better when I manage my pain with opioids. When you are “paingry,” it affects everyone around you. Without opioids to manage my pain, I am “paingry” all the time. Sometimes, I wonder what it is like to live with me, but I’m too afraid to ask. You cannot think about anything else when you are in severe pain, so you have nothing left to give physically or emotionally to your family and friends.
I can enjoy life when I manage my pain with opioids. Without pain relief, chronic pain overtakes my body, and my mind says, “You can’t do this!” Excessive chronic pain in your body just hammers away at your optimism and your focus. I want to participate in my life. I want to go outside and feel the sun on my skin instead of laying in bed in pain not wanting to do anything except to die because the pain is too intense.
I can keep my house cleaner when I manage my pain with opioids. I do the best I can, and even with opioids, it is still tough to stay on top of cleaning. Without the pain medicine, there are many things that I will not be able to do simple things like mop my floor. It will further isolate me because I will not want anyone to see the inside of my house.
I have less depression and anxiety when I manage my pain with opioids. When I cannot do anything because of my chronic pain, I become depressed. I am not able to live my life, and I am forced to stay alive in severe pain and mourn my lost life and dreams. I must live like I am physically dead. But with pain medication, I can actively participate in my life without fighting depression every minute.
I can leave my house and enjoy being with others when I manage my pain with opioids. I don’t have to cancel as often. People get tired of that. I do not like being a disappointment by canceling and losing friends because of pain. This leaves me further isolated.
I can do everyday things for my self when I manage my pain with opioids and not feel like a burden to those around me. I want to be able to be independent; to be able to do things for myself and opioids allow me to do that. I cannot work and be a productive member of society when I am in untreated severe pain. Not working will make me a burden on society and my family.
I can ride in a car without discomfort when I manage my pain with opioids. Without proper medicine, it is impossible for me to sit in a car for extended lengths of time. I have family in different states. Without opioids, I cannot travel to see them. I just want to go and see new things and my family members.
Financially, the pills are the cheapest option to manage my pain. I can afford the prescription pain medicine because insurance covers it. The alternative treatments that I know will help me are not covered by insurance. I cannot pay for them all, and I will suffer because of it. I need an affordable option for my chronic pain.
I do not reach for the pain pills first. I have a list that I go down and try before getting that pill bottle. I don’t want to take them. I want a fully functional body, but no one seems to know how to fix my problem.
I have worked hard for the past ten years to create my new normal so that I can live a full life, a productive life with disabilities. I am willing to jump through all the hoops of pill counts, drug testing, excessive doctor appointments, and pain contracts that are expected of me to maintain accountability. We need more research for chronic pain to find new treatments if we are to eliminate the opioid medications. I gladly welcome that prospect of never talking another pill again.
Until that day, having an opioid prescription allows me to live my life to the fullest with my disabilities. That’s all I’m asking. I just want to have my basic needs met. I just want my life to be livable.
Chronic Pain Advocacy FaceBook page: @ChronicPainWithAHigherPerspective
Photo Credit: Pixaby