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 Post subject: Belated Introduction
PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:05 am 
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Hello Everyone,

I've been posting and talking in the "Inductions" section for a couple of days, so I did it backwards - instead of first introducing myself I went right there.

My story begins in 2001. I was walking along and went down with the most horrific pain I had EVER felt. It was just a herniated disk, but it had apparently shifted/moved/whatever and botched things all up with SEVERE pain. The neurologist prescribed 5/500 Hydrocodone, which I took for two weeks prior to the surgery. The surgery worked fantastic at first. I was up and about very quickly and back to normal within a week and no longer taking anything because there was no more pain. But three months later, hell began. Actually, it began gradually from that three month mark and beyond. The pain returned, and I just took Tylenol or Excedrin. However, that wasn't helping after a time. So I was prescribed (I forget the name) an NSAID anti-inflammatory. I had a horrible allergic reaction that is very rare called Stevens-Johnsons Syndrome. It's like burns all over your body from the inside out. Your skin sloughs off, especially in mucosal areas like the mouth and "down there". I was admitted to a burn unit and treated for that. NO MORE NSAIDS for me, EVER! They told me the mortality risk increases exponentially with each episode - you obviously don't want to have anymore! Anyway, I was once again put on the Hydrocodone for the back pain. It just kept getting worse and worse, and MRIs showed extensive "fibrosis" - scar tissue spreading and causing nerve problems. From 2001 to 2006, my medication was eventually switched to Oxycodone.

Now, understand that not only was I physically "opiate naive" before all this, I was also naive about opiates entirely. I simply told the doctor what the pain was and followed his instructions. NOW, years later after having done a boatload of research, I don't know how or why I didn't really stop to think something was strange. At its highest and most intense, I was on between 600mg and 700mg DAILY of Oxycodone!!!! It was prescribed by the neurologist and I used one pharmacy. To this day other doctors are stunned that ANY doctor would ever "titrate" a patient to that massive of a dose, but there we were and me not really knowing any better at the time. But that neurologist suddenly closed one day - just GONE. I later learned that his license had been revoked by the board for his prescribing habits. But that left me obviously in a VERY bad spot. Up to that point, I had never not had the medicine. So to my thinking I was going to have a lot of pain set in that I would have to learn to deal with somehow or find another doctor. Withdrawals weren't part of my thinking at that time. Honestly, I didn't even know they existed. Anyway, my medicine ran out and I didn't yet have a new doctor. Over the next couple of days, I can't even describe the intense hell that set in. But you all know what it's like, so I don't need to. I went to the emergency room not know what was wrong, and for a little bit they couldn't figure it out either. However, when they looked at my history and what I'd been receiving, the doctor came in and I still remember his words: "Is this the first time you've kicked?" I said excuse me? "Kicked"? Kicked what? That's the first time I was "educated" about this stuff, and afterward delved into serious research. That ER doctor prescribed enough for a week, and I found another doctor through a friend that took me in. I immediately told him I wanted OFF that crap! He told me we would talk about it the next month, and he just wrote what I'd always been given to "stabilize" me?

I wasn't happy with that. That single month I rapidly tapered my dose as much as the pain would allow. I took from from between 600mg-700mg down to 350mg in that month. It wasn't easy to say the least, but I did it. He was actually shocked when I went to the next appointment. I told him I thought I could reduce more if I could find other ways to address the pain. Surgery was not financially an option and the monthly visits and medication were more doable. Anyway, I did begin finding other things - aquatic therapy, massage, mild yoga, meditation, and vitamins and supplements. That allowed me to drop to over the next two or three months to get it down to 200mg-220mg, where I maintained for the next three years until 2009. That's when I was in a serious vehicle accident. My neck was broken in two places as well as my back. I had three fusions over the next two months for that, and the pain went back up. However, I REFUSED to increase the Oxycodone dosage and simply dealt with it - many nights getting very little sleep and CONSTANTLY in some amount of pain.

From then to now, that pain has decreased in intensity, though not entirely. I have been able to get my dosage down to 180mg, where I have held it. The pain doctor I was seeing never offered any other options, and I could no longer find another doctor. The second you tell them your history and the medication you're taking, the conversation is over. The medical community would rather watch you writhe in pain than help - horribly inhumane. In recent years the government and DEA have made it harder and harder for legitimate chronic pain patients to get the help they need because doctors and pharmacists are in fear for their licenses. The environment that has been created simply leaves people to hurt. And those who have become addicted are treated horribly as well and left to suffer. We are ALL human beings and deserve humane and compassionate treatment. Pain patients deserve pain relief, and addicts deserve at least a chance to overcome it.

Anyway, my pain doctor is no longer in practice here and I had to find someone else, but I couldn't. No one, and I mean NO ONE, would take me and continue me on the 180mg/day dose that I was on. Hell they wouldn't even let me in the door to talk about other options, if any! They could see my MRIs and CTs, and the pain was apparent. A few even outright told me they felt bad for me but they were just not taking the chance anymore with the way things are right now. So last week I finally got in to see a doctor, and he suggested this medication called Suboxone. He also was not willing to prescribe the Oxycodone. He could clearly see from the MRIs/CTs that I was not "malingering," and yet I still felt like he was talking to me as an addict.

To be completely honest with you, I have to admit that I don't really know if I've also become an addict or not. I am without question physically dependent on the Oxycodone, but I do not get any "high" or "euphoria" from it. Actually, I still remember when I first started with Hydrocodone way back in 2001, and even then I didn't get those feelings. The "high" I got from it was being very dizzy for a while and then knocking out for a couple of hours. That went away over a couple of months, and since then the medicine has somehow controlled the pain but without those effects. But maybe without realizing it I have somehow subconsciously become addicted to pain medicine.

My mother passed away last month, and I remember being very upset at one point and reaching for the Oxycodone when I wasn't really hurting that bad (plus it wasn't time for the next dose yet). I stopped myself and stepped back and thought wait, what was that about? Have I been getting something else out of this and just not realizing it? So, am I an addict as well as physically dependent? I don't know, but I can't honestly discount the possibility after that. I didn't mention this to the new pain doc last week because I don't really know what was going on in that moment and I don't want to have the "addiction paintbrush" on me in his mind, though it probably already was the second I walked in the door. I'm going to have to continue to do some serious soul-searching about that and be open to the possibility that I am also addicted. If I am, then I will also be about the work of learning why I became addicted and confronting that head on.

Regardless of whether I'm both physically dependent and addicted or not, I want off of this medicine. The only way to know TRULY where the pain is without the medicine is to, well, be without it. I know with the Suboxone I'm actually not opiate-free, but it's still a better alternative. I just can't deal with those WDs, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will work for that.

I have returned to college at 42 years of age to finish a PhD in History (late antiquity/medieval focus), already having two BAs (one in History and the other in Journalism). It is and has always been my passion, but I simply fell into a career early on and set it by the wayside.

In a nutshell, that's my story. There's much more to it, but I don't want to write more of a novel than I already have. I want my life back without pan medicine, and I'm hoping so much that the Suboxone will not only eliminate those horrible WDs but have the added benefit of dealing with the pain, whatever level the pain is truly at. I'm scared senseless about it and simply hoping beyond hope that it works. It's truly the only option I have left. If the pain is still at a high level and it doesn't also deal with that, well if it will at least deal with the WDs then I can somehow address the other. But I can't take BOTH, that's for sure.

I want to thank everyone for the advice being offered here. It's really an oasis in the desert for me and I'm sure many others.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:30 am 
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Wow you really have been through so much bodily trauma. those burns seemed so painful when you were describing your situation. I am so glad that you have found your "Oasis" in the desert like you said.

Suboxone is great for managing pain and the great thing about it is that you do not build up a tolerance to it. Once it is in your system it covers your pain receptors and sticks for a long time and doesn't go away quickly like Oxycodone where you need "another" right away and "another"...

So glad you found this forum and Welcome!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:11 pm 
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hey, welcome snapshawt!


when you were describing those burns, i had to cringe! ouch...i never knew a NSAID medication could do that.

thats a good question as to whether you are simply dependant or an addict as well. Only you can answer that. Painkillers kill pain...both physical and emotional. I know personally i was using them mostly for emotional pain.

Did you get a chance to induct on Suboxone yet? If so i was wondering how that went for you. Suboxone will most likely get rid of your withdrawels and hopefully it takes care of your pain issues as well!

thanks for sharing your story, im glad you found this place too! :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:37 pm 
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Hi snapshawt,

Thank you for your well written and thoughtful post.

I am sorry you have been through so much physical pain. I agree only you can determine if you are an addict. From what you posted though it seems like you are mostly just dependent. Even if you are showing some addict behaviors/tendencies, there is really no reason to question why . You were prescribed high doses of opiates over time. Sadly, that is the nature of opiates. That's how they work. Anyone who stays on oxy will need ever increasing doses.

I am not taking suboxone for pain management but I have heard it works to decrease pain in some and does not work so well for others. I think it is definitely worth a try. Once stabalized you will not have to increase your dose.

I hope you can give sub a try and possibly find some relief. Please let us know how it goes and good luck!


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Board Certified Psychiatrist
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