Friday, November 22, 2013

Pain Medication Is A Tool I Use Often

I am so sick of the phrase, "I don't want to depend on pain medication."

No one wants to depend on pain medication.  But given the choice of spending the day with my son with pain in the background, or staying home writhing in pain, I will take my pain meds every day and twice on Sunday.

Scleroderma is not going away.  My hands are never going to be the same.  Changes in weather will always affect my pain levels.  But if I sit still and wait for the pain to go away, I will curl up and die.  I know this to be a fact because I tried sitting still and it nearly killed me.  
I have many more adventures in my future
because of pain management w/ medication.

For years I allowed what I allowed what other people thought of me, to determine my use of pain meds.  Look, a good buzz is fun, but I don't get that from Captain Vicodin (Thank you for the name Stephanie Wellborn Kennedy (@Steph_In_NC) Captain Vicodin is my friend and has helped my body benefit from movement I would not have done, if I did not have such an amazing tool.  Because that's what pain medication is- a tool.  

And I don't say these things lightly.  There are many stupid doctors who will hand a patient they have no idea what to do with, a prescription for 600 Percocet and say, "Take that as often as you like."  Yes, that happened to me.  That turned into 8 Percocet a day. My doctor did not think in the long term.  For years I was treated as though I would be made to feel comfortable until I dropped dead.  Surprise!  I'm still here.  The doctor did not take into account that Percocet was fast acting, strong and had a short life.  It is because doctors misuse prescriptions because they don't know what they are doing, and patients end up with medication that does not work for them.  

Chronic pain is long term.  It's not going away. As patients, we need to make pain tolerable.  Yes, I said tolerable.  I have never been pain free since 1993.  When a nurse asks me what my pain level is, I laugh and  I answer, "A constant 2."  My hands are curled.  I have no fat pads on my feet.  I am constantly bumping my hands into objects and sometimes people.  There is no such thing as pain free.  Of course I'm not okay with that, but I don't have any more time to spend in therapy to talk about how pissed I am about it.  I have a 10 year old son.  I live ON THE BEACH.  Life is whizzing by and I spend enough time at the Veteran's Hospital, so pass the antidepressants and sedatives when needed.  I'm going outside.  

Look, getting to this point took a lot of time.  So if you find yourself saying things like, "I don't want to become addicted to pain medication."  You know what?  People take cholesterol medication and eat hot dogs.  You know why?  Because they are out enjoying their lives.  They have a healthy diet, but they have a treat every now and then.  Taking pain medication so that I can tale a shower easier is not a treat for me.  It's necessary.  And you now what?  When, I do I find I need less pain medication throughout my day.  Normally, I take one Vicodin in the morning and usually, I do not need another the whole day.  There is more to pain than what's causing our pain.  

Look, I could go and do a search for research about pain management and exercise; exercise and depression; etc…  Do the research yourself, learn about your own body, and train your doctor(s) and family.  Take control of your life (Yes.  Yes you can.)  Take your pain meds and use them smartly and as a tool, because that's all they are.  If you are using pain medication for "the buzz", you are not in enough pain to be using pain medication.  Depend on them.  There are very few things we can control with a chronic illness.  If you can control or tolerate your pain because of a few pills, do it. 

When someone tells me that I "shouldn't depend on pain meds", because of "their ideas", I ask them to do this:  "Go outside, rub your knuckles on the blacktop.  Then walk through some broken glass.  If you can sit tight with that pain, I'll stop using my pay medication for my chronic pain.  Because that's what my chronic pain feels like if I don't keep my pain under control."  

Take your pain meds.  Be smart about it.  Don't let people who create the suspicion of abuse tell you what you should do.  They are uninformed.  As patients, it is often our job to educate family and even health care providers about scleroderma, sarcoidosis or whatever chronic illness we have.  Be your own best advocate.  Because all medical decisions are ultimately yours, you are the captain of your medical team.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hernias, Ponies and Turtles

First, Lilith was too independent, then it was the serpent in the garden, then we started naming storms after women and an obstacle that blocks a sphincter is called a hernia.  That's right- "her"nia!  Does anyone else think this is a bit one sided?  Hang on because this is going to be a rant...

Yesterday, I had another upper endoscopy.  I have had so many upper endoscopies, I don't even know how many I have had.  That's right, I have swallowed a camera so many times, I was surprised to wake up this last to and not remember he procedure.  Someone finally got my dosage right on the anesthesia and I don't remember a thing.

Everything looks good.  No mention of Barret's Esophagus.  I was handed a report and full cold pictures of my esophagus and sent on my way.  Could it be that the tissue on the inside of my throat no longer resembles the inside of my lower intestine.  And if so, does this mean I am no longer talking our my ass?

My Hiatal Hernia is one centimeter.  This made me wonder for the first time, how big are hiatal hernias?  I wikipeidia'ed it and still no answer.  I'm going to need to ask a doctor or spend more time n research, but I am short on time.

I have muscles to rebuild.  I don't have to rebuild anything.  The one thing that has been made clear to me for years is that no one expects me to do anything.  Doctors don't mention exercise to me, I mention it to them.  I would say that overall, I am messed up in the head (I know, this isn't news to you) because I have to motivate myself to get up, even though it hurts.

The damage is done.  BUT I can regain some strength by exercise and eating right to be here longer.  It's like starting over in my 20's again, without the cuteness and optimism of youth.  Where do I even start on his recovery way of thinking?

I'm 43.  I was supposed to be dead and I'm not.  Don't get me wrong, I am really happy about that.  Actually, I'm pretty excited about it.  And because I'm here I'm convinced there is no such thing as a midlife crisis.  It's only a crisis to those who see me deviate from their expected path and become worried I will get hurt.  (Yes, I know I just made this about me, but it's my blog.  It was always about me.)  Now, I'm seeing myself truly off the path and I like it.  It feels like a crisis because I'm in uncharted territory.   But it's not really a crisis, it's about realizing what I want and going after it.  I want to be able to play mini golf with my son and walk for miles. I would really like to play basketball, and  pony that sneezes glitter and rainbows.  I know that some of the things I want can be had.  So what's stopping me?  Me.  So, this is me unstopping me.  In a blog.  (By the way I really want to thank my 5 readers.  I love you guys!!!)

Look, this post started with a rant that goes nowhere.  That is a pretty accurate description of my life, overall.  I reach for something, then stop for some reason.  I couldn't even maintain a Scleroderma reddit for corn sake!  At age 43, I have to begin to follow through with my goals.  Some of my goals were not achieved for health reasons.  Some were not achieved simply because I chickened out, mostly because I was afraid of something.  The something was usually something I created that really didn;t exist except for the power of limitation I gave it.

So now what?  Honestly, I don't know where life is going to take me next.    So, I'm going to put one foot in front of the other, keep my doctor's appointments, exercise, eat right, be with my son as much as I can, and choose my battles carefully.  I feel like I'm just getting started.