Where has the last 6 years of my life gone? The worst part of it all started in May, 2006 shortly after I was referred to a pain clinic for some of my MS and other related aches and pains. However, my journey actually began back when I was still working in the early to mid 1990's. If I was prescribed either Vicodin or Cough medicine for any reason, I noticed a big change in how this body of mine felt (i.e. not as painful). As time went on and I got any kind of opiate pain killer, I would try and make them last - used them for the times I just needed to escape my body. If I wanted to escape my mind, I would have a drink.... Those were my 90's....
During the late 1990’s, other people with MS were recommending to me to use marijuana for my tremors and pain. I had given up pot years earlier but I needed something. Tried it and WOW, what a difference it made in how my body felt. I was a bit paranoid at first but that went away. I learned how to make brownies so that I wasn’t smoking it and Vaporizers were a rather new thing out in California so I wasn’t really aware of them. What it helped me with the most was total body relaxation. Trust me, a body that is tight, stretched, legs feeling like someone is pulling them off of you 24/7, well, it just really helped.
More over the jump
Then in the early 2000's, told my doctor that the best drug to help me with my pain was Vicoprofen.... which is Vicodin except with Ibuprofen instead of Tylenol added. It was the anti-inflammatory part of the "Ibuprofen" that helped. However, my doctors said, "I cannot prescribe that long term and I asked, why?" He responded that it was the "Profen" part of the drug that would destroy my liver and my kidneys.
Well, bummer. And a warning to all those out there that pop a lot of Advil or any other product with Ibuprofen in it.... Once in awhile is fine but every day use has long-term consequences.
So my rheumatologist began prescribing me Vicodin on a regular basis. Again, as my body is going through changes.... M.S. neuropathic pain, arthritis and bursitis, severe back pain and finally Fibromyalgia. Wanting a new body and feeling like I got a few hours break on the pain medication, I was actually content with the situation.
Then I changed neurologists.....
My new neurologist prescribed me Ultram.... well, I took the Ultram with the Vicoden and Ta Da, GREAT pain relief all around. But it was also a flag to both of my doctors, who I demanded that they SPEAK to one another and they did.
That is when they both said, "Your pain needs to be dealt with by a pain clinic, it is more than we can take care of."
GREAT.... I did not ask to see a pain clinic but if I wanted pain relief, that is the way I had to go and did. Oh, trust me, I had already been through the Neurontin, Lyrica, Vioxx and other supposed pain killers that only put me to sleep and did nothing for my pain.
The pain clinic started me out on Vicodin..... Then one day I was in the office and telling Veronica, the PA or Physician's Assistant, that I never took the pain pills at night because I was wide awake by 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. She interpreted that to mean I need 24/7 pain relief and so my journey into the abyss began.
She prescribed me Fentanyl Pain Patches. I demanded the lowest dose, which was actually the pediatric dose. This was May, 2006, yes, 6 years ago.
Went home, plopped that thing on me and within about 2 hours, I felt it, my body felt it, but so did my mind. Fentanyl is an anesthesia and 80 x's stronger than morphine.
These pain patches are supposed to be changed every 72 hours. It did not take long for my body to tell me - NO, you gotta do something at the 60 hour mark. I would get bugs crawling all over my body... electric shocks shooting down my arms and legs, painful back aches, etc. so the pain clinic had me change them every 48 hours.
It was not long, I don't even think it was a year, before they bumped my Fentanyl prescription up to the lowest adult dose. Again, losing a bit of my mind at a time when I had lost my father, lost my mother-in-law who I did a lot of taking care of, a friend who had blown his brains out, another who drowned from MS, all within 9 months. It was an emotionally taxing time but hey, I was on this Fentanyl and a bit numb to it all, though I did do a lot of crying and grieving.
Then, the Fentanyl patch was not working and Veronica, the PA, wanted to bump me up to the next dose of Fentanyl. I said no and requested another option.... Morphine.... Yes, I agreed to morphine.
I took the morphine for about 1.5 years before I just couldn't stand it anymore. Morphine does wild stuff to your mind, so back to the Fentanyl patch we go.... And all during this time, I am also being prescribed oral pain killers as well. Though I did not take what they were prescribing me - FACT: I would ask her not to write me a prescription - Why if I didn't need it?
So.... sometime during 2010, I began to overlap my Fentanyl patches. Yes, I was needing the higher dose but told myself, No Way !!!! Found myself taking more of the oral pain meds and now, I was wearing the equivelant of close to the next higher dose in Fentanyl.
I quit thinking of the future. I quit wanting to do so many things, due to side-effects, a mind MIA, so much of my life was just slipping away and yet I could hide on MySpace and then on Facebook, as well as DailyKos, Huffington Post. My life was slipping by me. My plans for the future, canceled.
Well, finally went in to the pain clinic and they did their drug testing and Ta Da, I showed up positive for the THC metabolites. OK, after talking to the doctor, if I fail 3 tests, his Liability Insurance as well as the DEA requires that he fires me as a patient. Once again, an insurance company telling their client “how it’s going to be.” He could have cared less, but his license was something he wants to keep.
All of my appointments thereafter, if I used, it was right after my appointment then I would be clean for 2 ½ weeks. No problem….. You can quit marijuana anytime, what you cannot quit is narcotics.
The pain clinic decided that, since my original idea was to have a baclofen/morphine pump put in, which would deliver medications directly to my spine, it was time for me to go that route as well. They knew how I felt about wanting my mind back and told me it was the only way.... Yeah, Right.
Late March, I went into the hospital where they did a "trial run" with a morphine pump. One of the most traumatic medical experiences in my life. First, they did NOT take off both of my Fentanyl patches, even though before they turned my lights out with the Michael Jackson drug, I was taking them off and telling them. So.... I have this patch on me and they are giving me MORE fentanyl as well as Versed and Propofol not to mention the direct line of morphine into my spinal canal.
They taped a box onto my stomach, used tubing they put into my lower spine to deliver the morphine. I was in another world.... Hallucinated twice, would have these incredible "head rushes" or "whooshes" and was freaking out. Had I lost my mind? How did I get this point?
Then as they were taking all this test equipment off and out of me, I developed a spinal fluid leak. They say it is a headache like no other. I've had migraines and I'd rather have a migraine than what I went through for almost 2 weeks. When I called the pain clinic a week later and told them I still could not sit up without my head splitting open, I could not lay flat because my back spasms were so intense.... they told me to slap on two Fentnayl patches and take the pain pills every 4 hours and to call the next day.
Well, I was sooooooo messed up I failed to call them the next day but I did call the day after and that is when they informed me it was too late to do anything about it until AFTER EASTER, but had I called the day before, they could have done what is called a spinal blood patch. Something that used to be done quite frequently after women would get an epidural during childbirth (now the needles are so tiny, there is rarely a leak or a need for this procedure).
When I finally got in for the blood patch.... the minute I woke up from the anesthesia I knew it had worked and yet here a pain clinic, who are supposed to help with your pain, caused me to be in more pain for such an extended period of time... I thought, I'm through, I'm done, I want off all this stuff. All I need is some pain medication on hand, not my mind lost to the stars.
Well, I gave myself time to decide whether I was going to go through with the full implant, though I had already made up my mind in the hospital, I was too much of a mess from then until after the spinal blood patch to make a decision, though I already had.
I canceled the surgery. The doctor was most displeased with me. Then the pain clinic told me there was nothing else they could do for me and well, the end of a relationship was starting to fall to pieces.
So, Veronica, the PA, tells me on the phone when I told her I wanted off the Fentanyl all together and that I did not want the surgery…. Her solution? Make out a “withdrawal chart” that I think I could follow and then she would prescribe me the pediatric dose of the Fentanyl patches the next time I came in.
Well, I went 6 weeks in between my appointments because I went in steps and one was to go back to changing the patches every 72 hours. The first couple of weeks, maybe even 3 weeks, I used my personal green stuff to get through the changes. Remember, I’m on my own here…. No help from the pain clinic – just make your own withdrawal chart. W.T.F.?
Bought me a THC at home drug test, as I always did if I was concerned I might test positive and it said I was free and clear. But I get to the pain clinic, where they have a cup waiting for me and they inform me that I tested positive for THC (btw, there are 2 different cutoffs that labs use, 20 nannograms and 50 nannograms, the OTC ones test to 50, while 20 is much more sensitive). Well, to say that was the end of our medical relationship is putting it mildly. I mean when they get the test results back of the amount, they will see it was a very small amount in my system.
So, the pain clinic was already losing a trusty “monthly drug addict” on my request, though I wanted to be able to obtain pain pills as needed…..
Oh, I didn’t even mention all the psychological testing they did on me either. I was found to NOT be a drug addict, and yet, here I was one.
Today, Saturday, May 26th, 2012, I am wearing my last pain patch..... it isn't doing much anymore but I'm not ready to tear it off. The bugs, the withdrawals, the digestive issues and other side effects have been horrible but my husband keeps telling me it's nice to have me back. I told him it's been a long time.
So, while I'm still having to take half a pain pill to keep the bugs away, it's half a pain pill and now I know I can do this. I also know that this time next week - I might even have my mind back..... Granted, I might want to make it go away again. Only time will tell.
This all happened and before I knew it, I was a drug addict. While I told my husband I wasn't out actively seeking more and more drugs he reminded me that I was addicted to this fentanyl patch and therefore, I was a drug addict.
He. Was. Right.
When are they going to get real about Medical Marijuana? The pain clinic had to fire many of their patients because they had NO traces of the drugs they were prescribed in their system, which indicated they were selling the drugs. I always tested positive for my prescriptions. But what isn’t fair is someone could go out on a Friday night, do a bunch of different kinds of drugs, alcohol, cocaine, even heroin or Meth and test negative by a Monday or Tuesday drug test. Our system is wrong and needs to be changed.
But until then the Economics must change:
1. Prisons for Profit that are kept full at taxpayer expense by the
2. Laws that employ Judges and lawyers (on both sides) at taxpayer expense who are busted by the
3. Law, police, DEA, etc., again at taxpayer expense.
4. Don’t forget the Pharmaceutical and Alcohol industries who do NOT want marijuana legalized at all, even for medical relief.