Every week I seem to have a theme happening with my posts. This week the theme I have jumped on was addiction. If you missed my other blog that I posted on Monday about the addiction to adrenaline, you can click here.
After the adrenaline addiction post was added, I received an email asking:
You are always in pain. Has there been any time in your life you suffered from a pain killer addiction/drug addiction that would have helped to relieve the pain or any symptoms?
Instead of answering the user directly, I decided to write a blog about it first, especially since I know this question will come up several more times.
**Note: I have had problems with pain killers in the past, but first I will tell you a story of how this lead up to my problem and how I have been influenced in several ways.
The chronic pain I have been suffering started at 12 years old. It started in my back, but it was one afternoon, after a really rough skate. So I just thought that the pain would magically disappear on its own. And after two weeks of pushing through the pain, I took some time off from the ice which seemed to really help. The pain disappeared.
However, starting when I was 14-15 years old the pain was starting again in my lower back (right side). It got to a point the only temporarily relief I had was when my back cracked…but I was also very careful and aware that the cracking was not a good thing.
Still, up to this point I only took tylonel or advil if the pain got really bad.
When I was 15 years old I met a figure skating coach…Over twice my age. At first we did not get along. There was something about him that was odd, he was not like the other coaches and many others seemed to dislike him. However, that did not scare me. Nothing scared me. Not even the warnings I was getting from everyone around the rink.
It took nearly three weeks before this coach started somewhat trusting me, and by then I had at least half a dozen warnings telling me to be careful.
**Note: I was only 15 at the time. Everyone knew I was in love with this guy but I was not stupid. As well I had NO idea why people were telling me to be careful…I kept getting the warning but nobody elaborated.
The moment we got really close, was after a rough day watching figure skating at the rink. I had been off the ice injured for over 3 months with a torn stomach muscle and the more I was watching, the more I was missing the sport.
The moment was an hour after the ice finished and everyone had gone home for the day and I was waiting for a non skating friend to show up. This coach walked upstairs and tried to ignore me until we accidentally made eye contact. I smiled at him and he came to where I was sitting.
His initial reaction was to ask me why I kept being so nice to him, especially when he knew about ALL the rumors that were going around the rink. And all I could say was that I did not judge a book by its cover and that I like to get to know people before I make judgments.
He agreed to my proposal about being friends/there for each other but NOBODY at the rink could know.
**Note: I had the voices of every person telling me to be careful in the back of my head especially after the proposal he made.
We were friends for about a year after this, going back and forth from rinks and always hanging out, having coffees etc. But suddenly around March I noticed an attitude change. His eyes changed, the pupils were larger and his eyes were blood shot. His coffee consumption went from one extra large a day to about 4-5 of them. When I questioned him about the changes he either got angry or he would pull it off talking about how he stayed up really late…and I bought the excuse.
End of May he suddenly disappeared. No longer around the rinks. No longer answering my calls/emails. I had no idea where he was and everyone around the rink was starting to notice.
Then during a test session in August, he reappeared. He looked 100% better than the last time I saw him. He was clean, nicely dressed, hair groomed, eyes were normal, did not look tired and he was drinking a medium sized coffee.
At the time of the test I was with my grandma so all he did was come up to me and say ‘hi’ and then walked away. I felt down but a part of me knew it was to hide from the hundreds of people that were at the test session. But I was not letting him get away for ditching me with no reasoning.
The following day, in front of several coaches and skaters, I grabbed his arm and we went into the dressing room and I slammed the door shut. I was pissed off and I confronted him about leaving. All he said was that he got sick and needed to get better, and I accepted that reasoning.
Skip to November. I was going to a skating competition and my coach at the time did not show up to this competition. It was only my second competition I ever competed in and I had no idea what to do. Since he was already at the competition, I asked him to go by the ice and stay with me.
The following week I came to the rink and told my coach I wanted to start working with this coach (along with him-as in having two coaches instead of one). My coach said he would take a day or two to make the decision. By the time the next lesson came, I asked the coach the question again and his response was,
“It is either him or me. I won’t be working along side him…You have to decide what it is you want to do.”
That time I started to get angry about the warning. So I asked him straight out on why everyone is giving me a warning about this particular coach. And finally someone gave me answers. He told me this particular coach has a drug problem and is not respected by others because of what he does. Once I heard drug problem, I stopped hearing the rest of the conversation. Instead it felt like bells were ringing in my head. Everything was making sense.
it took another year before I started noticing symptoms again. Eyes were blood shot. He had a lot of appointments. He was always nauseous or throwing up. Locking himself in the bathroom. Distant.
Right away I knew he relapsed and was on drugs. I knew there was a lot of stress and why he could have relapsed…but this ruined a good part of our relationship.
I still know this coach really well. I’m nowhere as close to him that I have been in the past. Things have happened, a lot of changes happened, and now we only end up seeing each other in several circumstances. But this entire relationship with him in the past…and currently in the present has changed my view on legal and illegal drugs.
So, back to our original topic. When the endometriosis started getting worse, birth control pills did not work. It was desperately screwing up my hormone levels. So instead, they took me off the birth control and gave me pain killers to take when I was in pain.
With the coach in the back of my head, I promised myself I would only take them I extreme emergencies. But for two months straight, I needed them in extreme emergencies. I finished an entire bottle of naproxene. And I was not feeling well because of it. I was nauseous, then start throwing up every morning and then all throughout the day. Finally I went to the doctors after this happened for three months and she asked if I was taking anything. When I showed her my prescription, she automatically knew I had given myself stomach ulcers.
This happened another two times because of the prescription pain killers. The last time I got stomach ulcers was right after my surgery for endometriosis. I had been put on two different kinds of pain meds. And the pain was brutal for about two months especially on my period.
I finished a bottle of naproxene and half a bottle of oxycodene by the time I realized I probably gave myself ulcers again. When I went to the doctor she noticed the labels on my pills were wrong. The oxycodene I should have been taking every 4-5 hours and naproxene should be max 2 pills a day. Instead it was written the other way around.
After that moment, there had only been 2 major times where the pain killers were becoming addicting. But again, both were because of the endo pain I was getting and it was the only way I could sleep.
The first situation I was mixing 4 different prescriptions and Tylenol and Advil and the more I was doing it, the more the situation with the coach was playing in the back of my head.
One week (in the middle of taking all those pills) I woke up, my eyes were blood shot, I was tired, moody and had no appetite. That day I just thought Fibro was kicking my ass. The following day it happened again. This time I took a naproxene pill and drank coffee to try and wake myself up. That is when all my pain went away and I was flying high.
When I finally came too a few hours later I noticed what happened. I had turned into this coach. I was in no pain and I realized the coffee heightened the effects of the pills. The constant taking of the pills went on for two more weeks until I stopped. It was hard to stop, but I had medical professionals wanting to cut me because of the pain…and they were the professionals I still needed.
I managed to go clean for several months. Until I met another doctor. He prescribed me amazing pills “natural” and not heavy on the stomach. It was for inflammation, so it never took all the pain away, just enough.
While I was taking those, I had to go for specialized blood tests and MRI. Once the results were in I was sent back to see him and he switched to something heavier.
Saying they were safe. Now, to date I have only taken them two times. One time I took them first thing in the morning and then I was on my way to school. My class got cancelled, so I ended up at the rink and decided to do homework. Before I knew it, I was waking up at the table 10 mins before I had to skate. I was asleep for 3 hours. Now if I was on my way to school I would have fallen asleep at the wheel.
The second time I took it was during school. However I didn’t realize I had taken another pain killer hours earlier and I ended up mixing the two. For over 30 hours I had been high off the meds. I was completely out of it, unable to focus…and in all honesty I don’t remember that day. But I have talked to people who I saw that day and they got me up to speed on the things I did.
After that, I decided enough was enough. I no longer wanted to be like that coach. I wanted to show a better example to myself, family, friends and peers.
I hardly ever take pills now, I try to do everything as natural as possible. Now it’s only when I’m in pain severe enough to keep me home from school (usually with endo) and even then I try to limit them.
I will admit, had I not met the coach before all this pain started and getting all these pain killers I would likely be in a more severe situation. But I was more aware and knew the warning signs so I was able to stay in control.
I know it is difficult for someone who suffers from chronic pain nearly 24/7 to not use pain killers but there are limits for a reason. And in all honesty I can understand why a lot of doctors send patients to pain clinics. But for those who are abusing the pills please seek help, it’s not good for your body and you are damaging it further.