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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:49 am 
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My first experience with opiates was when I had a painful foot injury and the doctor prescribed me some vicodin. Almost immediately I noticed that I not only felt great, but that I didn't suffer the awful symptoms of my bipolar illness- racing thoughts and anxiety especially. I mentioned this to my psych, and heeded his caution about addicition.

Several years later something happened that has profoundly changed my life. After several days of severe spinal pain and going to the doc, I woke up one morning completely paralyzed from the umbilicus down. I could not move my legs or urinate.

I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and an MRI showed severe cord swelling in the area, so I was taken to straight to surgery where my spine was sawed open to relieve thre pressure. They warned me that I may be permanantly on a vent when I woke up. I was then sent to the icu, and after a week or so off to physical therapy. Throughout this period I was connected to a dilaudid pca pump, which provided a phenomenal rush and pain relief instantly.

In physical therapy my condition declined, and I was taken back the the icu, in precarious/weak condition. This time I had four discectomy/fusions and an anterior plate placed. Things were getting bad, and I was on a ventilator for some time. My hands had been largerly paralyazed by this time as well. PICC lines and more and more dilaudid. At one point, I had apparently climbed over the bed rails to the floor, pulling all my IV's. When the nurses came in and asked what happened I told them I was going to the Zoo.

The story goes on with many medical complications including pulmonary emboli, bowel obstruction, MRSA, etc. I had cardiomyopathy and had been inpatient in bed for 10 weeks& lost 56 lbs by this time, always on dilaudid. Subsequently I was given Oxycontin, which I didn't especially enjoy. Finally I was sent to an actual nursing home for the elderly for a month. I was really hitting bottom, they told that I'd likely have to be instititualized for life. Previously I had been very active as a runner and now I was in a wheelchair in an old folks home. could it get worse? yes, it could and it would!

When I saw my pain doc oupatient for the first time I told him that I didn't want to take oxycontin. I'd heard so many bad things about that addiction, even lost a relative. So he put me on Opana ER. At first I didn't like it, but then I did some research and found out it could be insufflated and it was off to the races- and that it was possibly (likely) worse than oxy. When I started a 20 mg pill could last me all day long. I didn't even bother to take the 4 norcos / day because they were candy for me compared to the Opana.

The real trouble started when I got up to 40mg twice a day and started running out early. The first couple of times I got pretty sick & desperate, crawling all over the floor and looking all of my desk for any powder that might be missing. Desperately waiting for my next appt. When I did use, I'd reached the point of nodding out in the afternoon, and would often stay up at night so as not to die in my sleep from respiratory depression. I had horrendous nightmares too. I'd freak out when my nasal passages were so clogged that I couldn't get my dose. I read a story about a woman whos son flipped out really bad and had to be restrained and shot up when he went off, and I was terrified that would be my fate.

At one point I had an RX that was "too soon" to be filled by insurance, but just by one day. So desperate I paid the cash price of $750.00 because I had to have my fix. I shelled out a ton of money on opiates that weren't covered by my insurance, and my final run with with OXYIR, from which I detoxed with remaining subs from my previous induction.

Kicking drugs has been very difficult for me- because once the drugs are gone I feel like I've lost my best friend, and I'm stuck for the first time in years in my own skin, forget about processing the indescribable medical hell I endured.. So I got myself a therapist, attend 12 step meetings and church. It's slow progress, and especially difficult because I'm home on disability....which gives me way too much time to either use or sit around thinking of doing so. It was easy when I had that "false sense of well being".

Sometimes in AA they say "the only thing you need to change is everything", and I can sure relate to that. Like that analogy of going 100+ mph, slamming on the brakes and having all the crap come flying up from the back seat.

Through much hard work, and many, many months, I learned to stand with full support, then with a walker, ultimately taking a few steps, then a few more. I raised the bar and was determined to complete a 5k race with my walker, which I did in 2 1/2 hours. I've since completed several more and amazingly enough I finally walk unaided.

Returning to society and not being an active drug abuser go hand in hand for me. I have no question in my mind that I am and always will be a drug addict.

I may be a good fit for Suboxone maintenance therapy- I'd prayed it wouldn't have to go to that becuase I live on SSDI and I'd eventually be forced to stop- on Medicare you have to pay $4,500 out-of pocket. I don't think my doc would give me subutex.

It's been another challenge. A lot of people (doctors) told me that I would never get out of the w/c. I told them "screw you, I've run 20 marathons and I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. This may not apply to addiciton. Like they say on "Intervention", "Most need help to stop".

Before I knew it I HAD to have my dose within 5 minutes of waking up. The cravings were unbelieveable- I had to feed the monster.

Finally I made an emergency appointment, and told the doc I'd been taking 120 mg / day- and asked for Suboxone. I couldn't even get myself to go without my AM dose as required on induction day (not even close- this stuff owned me)

Magically, I didn't get sick - just like the doc promised. It was a miracle. No cravings whatsoever, no illness, maybe a little bit of anxiety.

So I'll see the doc again on 9/23 and if neccessary at that time I will request suboxone again, which kept my addiciton at bay very well. As I posted I very recently came upon Kratom leaf, which I deperately want to kick. I was naive and thought it'd be like mj, and help me w/d since I was 5-6 days post jump from sub.

This is one of several sites that I visit daily as a means of support. I've got a penpal or two also, which has really helped from an accountability & friendship perspective. I ~try~ to reach-out in as many ways as I can. I think the best defenses are to stay busy and excercise, or so has been my experience. Talk is cheap though and trying to "fight" and addiciton seldom works (at least not for me).

Thx & God bless- Some incredible stories & testimony here!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:11 pm 
Wow, runner, you've been through a harrowing experience. It's amazing that you overcame so much, set your goals so high and achieved them. I was following your other thread and it sounded like money was really the main factor in your going off of Sub. I'm wondering if you might be eligable for the patient assistance program through RB (the drug's manufacturer). I think someone said there is a link to it on this site - if someone could jump in and remind us where it is that would help. After everything you've been through and survived it isn't right that you should be denied a potentially life saving treatment (Sub) because of money.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Runner. You and I have much in common. I, too, snorted Opana for a couple of years. Unfortunately for me though, it ended a little worse. I pretty much did go crazy and ended up in the psych ward for a week, where I was put on sub. They told me it was a direct result of my drug abuse. So I utterly KNOW from where you're coming. You've made remarkable progress and I hope you can successfully get off that Kratom shit; hopefully sub can help you do that.

With regard to the patient assistance program, I posted the information under the "Links" section on the Index page. You should be able to find it easily. It's for those without insurance; I don't know about Medicare, but it's worth a shot.

Good luck and again, thanks so much for sharing your incredible journey with us.

_________________
-As I have grown older, I've learned that pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.

-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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

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