Flummoxed by Addiction

This morning after fighting muscle spasms for yet another night, my first thought was, “Why does my doctor have the right to say anything about my use of opioids?”

Seriously. That was my first thought.

I’d finally found a way to silence the noise of muscles growing, stretching, and healing — a very mild narcotic cocktail at bedtime. The Percocet given me for the first 8 post-op days lasted me nearly a month, and I still have 3/4 of the Tramadol, so clearly I’m not the one who’s going to overdose. In the day, Tylenol works just fine.

I don’t even like the non-spasm killing effects of the opiates. I don’t WANT to take them but I DO want to sleep. Night sleep is medicine. Given all this, I truly believe I should have the right to tell my doctor what to give me, but according to the law, I don’t have that right.

As for addiction, I’m not going there, but in the current climate of the “opioid crisis” the little white percocet pills are strictly controlled. I can have 7 days at a time. OH WELL.

After I had my first thought I scrutinized it — yeah. That’s a lesson I got from my life. Why do we care what addicts do? Whose business is it of ours, anyway? It’s their lives, their muscle spasms. We care because it’s heart-breaking to watch a life descend into addiction. Beyond that (the addict is the lucky one in that he or she is doing what they want) there’s the damage done to their families, and there’s the cost to society.Β No one really knows what to do about addiction because it is — ultimately — a personal choice and the person who wants a particular substance WILL find it. I know this way too well. I lost my brother to addiction.

In my first hip surgery experience in 2007, I was physically addicted to Vicodin after having taken it for the 3 years it took my (inept) doctor to order X-rays of my hip and properly diagnose the problem. He just threw pain meds and anti-depressants at it while I lost the ability to walk. Once all that was over I had to kick the drug. It was very, very, very unpleasant. I didn’t like the Vicodin, its effects on my mind and body, but after so long, my body was used to it. Taking it away was a nightmare.

The true danger of an opiate is that your body WILL addict itself to it. The mechanism in the drug is so close to the happy chemicals in our brains that our brains can’t tell the difference.Β Among the many grim stories of WW II is the story about how the Japanese put opium in the cigarettes it sold in China, addicting wide swaths of Chinese people and driving the market for Japanese (opiated) cigarettes.

So what’s the solution to all this? In my little situation, it’s enough Percocet to last three weeks. In the grand scheme? I don’t know. I wish I knew. It’s a problem that’s flummoxed people for centuries.

I wish I had the all-seeing eye that could gaze directly into the mechanism that spurs someone to abdicate their life to a substance. I wish I had the power to defeat the alcohol industry and provide graphic education about the long-term effects of alcohol abuse to kids in high school and middle school. I wish I had the power to create meaningful jobs with a living wage to all the people in my valley who feel hopeless because of the poverty in which they live and who, then, resort to dealing or using. I wish there were markings on the bodies of newborns that said, “This is a really special little person. He/she has a sensitive soul and will feel things too intensely. Be careful how you treat him/her because he/she is susceptible to addiction. Teach him/her to see the beautiful side of life. Give him/her lots of physical activity and things that engage his/her mind. Show him/her the power he/she has as an individual over emotions. Teach him/her to deal with disappointment. Nurture his/her sense of humor. Love him/her.”

RDP#4: Flummoxed


18 thoughts on “Flummoxed by Addiction

  1. I do not know the medicine you are taking. I just got the normal Novalgin and Dafalgan, pain killers to a certain extent. I took them when I went to bed but around 4 in the morning the effect had worn off, and I did not want to take them again as I did not want to be in dreamland in the morning when I left my bed. I am in any case a sort of anti tablet person and only take them when I know I have to. It is the post operatic pains that are the most troublesome, but they too eventually disappear. If I did not have my MS to combat I would be pain free but I get the spastic muscle spasms about once a night in my legs.

  2. I hate taking pills. I question myself before doing so cause they terrify me. Only when I’m in excruciating pain will I give in. My daughter says it’s because I’m old school. lol.

    • I understand the pills — the idea is that if I were in terrible pain, I wouldn’t do my exercises or walk or anything. But since I haven’t been in terrible pain, and have been good with Tylenol, no problem. It’s just the muscle spasms. I suppose we are old school. πŸ™‚

      • My daughter is an O.F.A. on the Ferry. She sees people like me (one woman walking on a broken him for a month) in he 80’s and another in her 30’s give me the drugs, I have a hang nail. It’s so true. Still, although I suffer unbearably at times, it’s when I’m about to lose my mind that I finally take something. It’s just who I am. I’ve witnessed so much addiction, I’m afraid of it. Part of the reason I guess.

  3. I get a month of Demerol per prescription. It usually lasts me about a month and a half, depending on weather and the mood of my spine. It makes a huge difference, especially when taken with the forbidden Excedrin. It’s ironic that the Demerol is less damaging to my system than aspirin. It turns out, EVERYTHING is bad for you, eventually. I’m forbidden from EVER taking anything like ibuprofen … which helps a lot, but sadly, also makes me ill and if I took it often, would probably kill me. I’m actually allergic to real opioids. Anything derived from the poppy or which is synthetically similar ALSO makes me sick AND it will cause me to hallucinate. Not in a good way like the fun drugs of youth.

    So it’s Demerol or nothing. I sneak in a couple of Excedrin, Never more than two in a day and sometimes, I “save up” a few Tylenol. Years of Celebrex and Vioxx were great. That stuff worked. Too bad it’s probably why my heart stopped working.

    Being in pain is exhausting. You either deal with the pain or you don’t have a life.

    I sometimes wonder, at our age, whether or not a mild addiction to something that helps you feel better isn’t a relatively small price to pay for not hurting all the time. I wrestle with that one daily. At least they give me a month of medication per script. Maybe that’s a state law?

    • Aspirin can kill me as can all the other NSAIDS. In fact, it almost did. 😦 I suppose things would be different if I had a truly chronic pain problem, but this isn’t. And they generously gave me Valium (which does not work at all on the spasms). I learned today that my physical therapy does accupuncture and that might work on the spasms. I am fine except for that. 😦

      • Lorazepam is much better for muscle spasms than valium. Valium ALSO makes me not so much sick, and very unpleasantly weird. I have a lot of strange reactions to a lot of drugs, which is probably why I hate hospitals so much. They always drug me up with everything and seem baffled when instead of feeling better, I get sicker. They do NOT listen. At least by the time I sent in for the heart stuff, I had Garry and my friend Cherrie to fight with them to NOT give me opioids (one hospital, it actually stopped my heart AND my breathing).

        But a couple of Lorazepam can really minimize spasms and so can drinking that icky sports drink with the magnesium and stuff in it. If you drink a LOT of it, it helps enormously with muscle cramping. There’s a reason that all the athletes drink it and it isn’t for its yummy flavors. If you keep it cold, it’s not too bad and it beats out the muscle spasms by miles.

        • I like the sports drinks, so I’m good with that. I’m about to make my first solo foray to the grocery. It’s hard to carry things and I’m not allowed to bend over, but I don’t have to buy out the store. I found Propel Fitness Water is GREAT for rehydrating after hard exercise and it’s been helpful with the spasms. It has all the electrolyte stuff of Gatorade but no sugar. One good thing is I’m finally eating again. I don’t think that was helping anything. I’m lucky I live in this little old pokey poor town with all kinds of old folks wandering around in different levels of decomposition. No one will notice my scaly, hairy legs. I am NOT putting on long pants. :p

  4. Opoid addiction is a huge problem in Australia too, so it sounds like your doctor is acting very responsibly, as are you, Martha. Nothing worse than a doctor that just pushes the pills on you and sends you on your way without any warning.

    I’ve got addiction tendencies so I don’t go there either. I don’t want to say it is an addictive personality because I think drugs work differently on me and it relates to my brain chemistry. I used to be addicted to Diet Coke. I drank 2 litres a day! Only gave it up when I was pregnant with my children. I couldn’t stand the taste of it then. I started drinking it again after my first child and was hooked immediately so I learnt my lesson. I have not touched a drop since my second pregnancy. I’m too old to have any more children to help me bust an addiction.

    I agree with Marilyn about the magnesium. I get awful cramps if I don’t eat enough leafy greens. Lots, every day is best. Fortunately, I love wilted baby spinach and omelettes. Protein for muscles and good source of magnesium.

    • My spasms are related to the surgery — he had to move muscles out of the way to insert the prosthesis, and my leg is longer than it was so my muscles are having to grow and stretch to fit. I have been eating my veggies and taking Magnesium and everything to contend with the spasms, but I the cause is just not the typical thing. It’s more like kids’ growing pains than the usual.

      I get it that a lot of the work the body does it does at night and it sometimes has happened after the worst night, I discover I’m better able to do something the next day than I was the day before. I would feel my doc is acting responsibly if I weren’t also getting all the valium I (don’t) want. That’s just weird and I don’t understand it.

      I’m seeing my real physical therapist tomorrow and am going to see if ultrasound or accupuncture would help. I’m also looking into medical Marijuana or just going to the nearest MJ recreational and medical pharmacy and seeing what’s there. It would be good for me to take a long drive, anyway.

      I was once addicted to Caffeine Free Diet Coke. Then I thought, “This is dumb. It’s expensive.” I quit. I got some after my surgery and was surprised at how gross it is. I think a lot of my “addictions” are dependencies on rituals. I don’t how to explain that.

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