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Living With Chronic Pain
by Sabrina Jones / July 1, 2007

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, live in a great neighborhood, and drive a nice car. Sounds great, right? The perfect life? Perhaps!

Except for one thing: the pain! I feel like the pain just won't go away, no matter what I do. I suffer from crippling migraines, back aches, golf ball size knots on my shoulders, and my neck feels as if someone is constantly stabbing me with a dull kitchen knife over and over again. On some days, I cannot even get out bed without taking some sort of medication. For almost four years now, I have been living with chronic pain.

I was sitting in the park one weekend watching some young women (about my age) play slow-pitch softball. Tears began to roll down my eyes. I was envious because I used to love playing and it is something that I can no longer do. That was the first time I felt truly old; that's what chronic pain does, it drains the life from you bit by bit, until one day you realize that you are but a shell of who you used to be.

Pain changes your disposition, you are almost always grumpy because every move requires energy that you just do not have. You feel guilty for not being able to jump up and down with your kids, or for not even having the motivation to even try. You feel bitter about working because it takes away more of your precious energy, and no one cares if you were up all night crying into your pillow because your back hurts so bad. Chronic pain changes you in so many ways that you begin to pray for anything that will make it stop. You just want to sleep, to try to drift off somewhere where the pain can't touch you. Nothing helps for long, and you wonder if anything ever will make this pain stop.

This has been my life for the past 4 years. I have gone to chiropractors, acupuncturists, pain management specialists and massage therapy, in addition to my weekly Primary Care Physician visit. I have been on several medicines with only minor results due to the fact that I have a genetic defect on my P450 Cytochrome 2D6, which is the primary source of metabolism for most pain medicines, Novocain and anti-depressants. To give you an example, if I get a Novocain shot that is supposed to last 6 hours, it only lasts approximately 2 hours on me. If I take 10 Norcos, (double strength Vicodin), it is like taking 3-4 instead. Some of the stronger meds work and some don't, it all depends on how the drug is metabolized. Before I found out that that this was a genetic disease that ran on my mother's side of the family, doctors just thought I had built up a tolerance to the meds. I had never taken a narcotic pain medication before I was admitted to the hospital when my appendix ruptured more than 6 years ago. They gave me a shot of Demerol and it was like they had put water into the syringe. I had to be medicated with Dilauded which worked, and to this day is the only medicine that has ever given me a small and short euphoric feeling as it killed my pain. This is why I never have any trouble switching meds, lowering my dose etc.. I do not get any euphoria from the meds, therefore I do not crave them. Unfortunately modern medicine is just starting to acknowledge this problem, however few correct the medicines or dosages to counter this problem.

Most doctors will not even write these kinds of scripts and want to kill your liver and kidneys with acetaminophen, or other NASID's Many people can not find a compassionate doctor and so they have to suffer, or turn to internet doctors. Despite the propaganda the news agencies and the DEA try to put out about these online doctors, they ACTUALLY help many chronic pain patients. You need good medical records that support your need for the medicine, you also need to consult with the doctor, during which you will discuss your condition and treatment options, and then if he/she feels it is appropriate, you will be prescribed medicine. The drawbacks of online medicines are that it is hard to tell if the site is a scam or if it is even real. Also, it is very expensive for the doctor consultation, medication and shipping which runs about $200-300 or more, and they do not accept insurance. These online doctors can not prescribe anything stronger than schedule three drugs, and some people need stronger medicine.

How Did This Happen?

One early morning in November 2002, a careless driver rammed into my car, and set off a chain of events that eventually left me in this horrible state. She tried to race across our lanes to make a turn into a driveway, even though it was clear she did not have enough space to do so. She didn't even care, before or after the accident, she was apathetic and disinterested, and even tried to get out of giving us her information. That's what pisses me off the most, she made my life 100 fold more difficult FOREVER and she didn't even care. She was found responsible for the accident and we got our car fixed and a VERY modest compensation, most of which went to doctor fees. What we have paid in physical, mental and actual out of pocket expenses is probably 40 times what we were paid as a settlement. This of course is only the financial toll, the physical and emotional toll is impossible to put a price tag on, and I will never get this part of my life or health back.

Even though I am too disabled to continue the job I trained so hard for in college and was so good at, the bureaucratic pigs at the Disability office tell me that at 32 with a bachelor's and a master's in Biology and Chemistry, I should be able to get a job that makes at least $900/month! Are they joking? that job wouldn't even cover the cost of childcare for my 2 kids. To go from making 70K with my bonus to $10,800 BEFORE TAXES because one careless and remorseless driver crashed into ME is just not fair Not by a long shot. But what can I do about it? For now, I am going to appeal my denial and if that doesn't work I will see about getting a lawyer. Until the outcome is determined, I have applied to my insurance for a surgery that might help to take the strain off of my upper back, let's hope insurance approves this procedure! Next, I switched to Methadone in the attempt that if I had to work, I could be drugged up enough to not feel the pain so badly. Now remember I do not get "high" or even any euphoric feeling from these meds, so it is not like I am walking around pie-eyed; in fact most people can not tell I am on meds.

How do I feel?

Well I feel that a good part of my youth has been stolen from my husband, my kids and myself. I hate having low energy and not being able to do everything I used to do. However what I hate the most about being a chronic pain patient are all the things that change in your life. It takes all of your strength and will power to get up and go to the park with your kids.

People at the pharmacy know you by name and know your refill cycle as well as you do. In the park, I am unable to race my son up a hill for fun, and GOD FORBID if you happen to take your meds in front of family or friends, they ALWAYS ask you what you are taking. When you tell them, they tell you how dangerous they are or how so and so got addicted to them when it really is none of their business in the first place. Last but not least, some of them label you an addict and gossip about you to other family members behind your back. I guess it makes them feel better if they can call someone else the biggest loser instead. Finally, what the worst part of life with chronic pain is that your happiness only lasts as long as your pain medicine does, and then it is right back into the pit until the next one kicks in. It really is a terrible way to live.

The only thing that makes it better is when my husband kisses me and tells me it will be all right, or one of my boys kisses and hugs me; that medicine is a million times stronger than anything you can find in a pharmacy. It quite simply is the only reason I choose to go on every day.

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