Let’s Talk About Drugs

I’m not a teacher and this is the last thing you’d want to hear from one, I’m sure. I am going to tell you my own experience with just one pain killer I’ve used for the many years of back and leg pain. Fentanyl. If you are thinking of using it, don’t. If your doctor prescribes it, tell him you want something else!

I had two failed surgeries on my back in February and March 1999. The surgeon professed to be the best in Houston, and as you might know, Houston is famous for its medical center. After many years of pain, my friend begged me to go to this doctor and during the visit he assured me he could make me pain free. It was a miracle!

I knew something was wrong when I woke up from the first surgery to see the doctor rush in, throw back my covers and ask if I could feel this or that. Still doped up from anesthesia, I don’t remember what I replied, but he seemed relieved. Checking in later for another MRI he reported that I needed another operation, basically a repeat.

After the second fiasco I was in the shower and my husband noticed the bandage was leaking…it was spinal fluid. I was sent home with three drugs, one was a tiny 25mg Duragesic Patch of Fentanyl. With these three drugs I had no pain but I could not get out of bed I was so doped up.

From 2000-2014 I was on an ever increasing dose of the Fentanyl patch. Around 2012 I was up to 150 mg patches applied every other day. This was to keep me from having pain, but it never really worked all that well. It was ruining my kidneys, I was on oxygen and kept falling asleep, (feel free to laugh) on the toilet because I was so constipated. I couldn’t sleep in bed at night and started watching or listening to the tv to distract me from the pain. Besides the patches I was taking Hydrocodone (Vicodin), and handfuls of Advil. Seriously, it’s hard to imagine that unless you’ve had chronic nonstop pain. The last year of Fentanyl I had to stop all medications except the patches because my kidneys were in such bad shape. Now I cannot take aspirin, ibuprofen or more than two Tylenol a day. I rarely take any pain medication unless I’m in the hospital.

I was addicted to Fentanyl because if I was supposed to have a new patch and the stores were out for my prescription, I ended up in the ER. My body would go into convulsive movements and sometimes I couldn’t sit still or control my actions. Sometimes my limbs were frozen, unmovable. My husband and daughter saw me in these states and it was embarrassing and frightening.

Texas and Colorado had strict rules for obtaining prescriptions. You had to have a triplicate form picked up by your hand and sign a paper at the office of a pain clinic doctor. In 2014 Colorado changed the rules as to what type of doctor could prescribe Fentanyl.

That was actually the best thing that happened to me because I ran out of patches. I couldn’t find a local doctor who was able to prescribe it. I had two weeks of withdrawal after using a week old 25mg patch that kept falling off. Of course it was dry and useless, but my desperate mind wouldn’t throw it away.

A nurse friend of my daughter’s said she heard of a new clinic opening forty-five minutes away. I called immediately and they said to come in the next morning. Meeting the doctor and a psychologist, they decided I had already been through the worst part of withdrawal, even congratulating me on doing it myself, as if I had any choice.

They said I could start using a fifteen mg patch and cut down to ten and then five, etc, but I didn’t want to. I did take the script just in case. I was an addict, don’t forget. Funny to think of being a grandmother, age 67, being an addict. But there’s no other word for it.

Probably the worst thing of all about the addiction was when my husband died and we had a funeral and Celebration of Life planned. That morning was what I called a patch day. In my nervousness ( I don’t do funerals) I showered and forgot to replace the patch. I took no other meds with me for the day and the funeral was in another town about an hour away. I was rolled down to the front row of an old, very small room that served as my husband’s hometown funeral home. It was crowded with people standing all around. People came up to me, as you would expect, but I couldn’t really talk to anyone. My legs started moving a little. I couldn’t control them. I also had stomach problems. I wasn’t crying at all. Emotionally I was prepared, but physically my body was getting out of control.

My son had to roll me to the door and outside. By that time my legs were completely out of control and I feared it would only get worse. My grandkids’ soccer coach came to the rescue and drove me home. I took the patch and some other meds immediately but it was too late.

I ended up in the ER at three in the morning. It took two shots of Valium for my body to stop moving. The second one was after the nurse knew about the funeral. I’m sure the lack of patch wasn’t the only problem. I completely missed the celebration of life we planned, the stories told by relatives and friends, and grieving with them. The guilt still resides in my heart.

This is long, I know. I just want you to be aware. Aware of doctors to check them out thoroughly, their operation track records, the medications and their side effects, and how easily it is to get addicted. Pain is horrible I know.

As I am now, my back and legs are mostly numb. Sounds bad, but I’d rather not walk than live with that pain again.

Be your own health advocate. Thanks for reading.



10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Drugs

  1. It’s difficult to write “nice” to something like this. It is nice however. Very illuminating. Drugs are both a blessing and a curse on mankind. Doctors, are now the frontline workers, for the pharmaceutical industry. One assumes they are there to help us? That is true to an extent. It is different from Country to Country Province to Province and in your case; State to State.

    Heroin in any form is highly addictive. I have no experience from it. The Opium poppy was grown mainly in India once upon a time. These day, Afghanistan is producing most. Countries Like Turkey and N. Africa, also. As poppies, I have grown them myself, in my garden. They are very pretty. I once had a good collection of different poppies in my garden. These days, I live in an apartment and have a few containers of culinary herbs. That’s about it.

    While opium in the form of heroin, is used extensively by pharma. This drug known as Fentanyl seems to be another devilish concoction? If one ever watches the movie “The French Connection”? The detective “Popeye” is made addicted to heroin. Women are often abused, like this. To make them work in the sex trade.

    I feel sure many medical workers use these drugs? Every so often we hear about it. Mostly, i expect it’s kept under wraps?

    While I believe myself to be of an addictive nature? I am not addicted to anything, accept universal love. You have my sympathy for your condition. You appear to have adjusted to it? As well as any, might?

    Thanks for writing to us, about it. It was likely worse than you describe. Cheers Jamie

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    1. Okay … those what are termed “hard drugs”. I think I’m smart enough not try them. I dislike governments making them illegal, for that just aids the black market. Ohh well, life’s a beach ain’t it? Cheers Jamie

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  2. My husband suffers from chronic pain, Cheryl. When we first met over a decade ago, he was on 120 mg of Fentanyl every third day, as well as high doses of oxycontin. While it did lessen his pain, it also diminished his ability to live a meaningful life. He took matters into his own hands, and with the assistance of his pain management medical team, he was weaned off Fentanyl. His insurance company stopped covering oxycontin a few years later, and for many years now, he has been successfully able to manage pain with much lower doses of oxycodone.

    Just getting out of bed every morning is an act of heroism for my husband. I admire his courage, give thanks for the day we met and the life we’ve created together. ūüėČ xoxoM

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  3. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband, and the additional loss of those important moments of grieving and loving with your family.

    The above comment refers to what I thought as well, we can’t trust medical providers to always know what is best for us. We need to be informed, if we aren’t we need to ask, and we need to be our strongest advocate. Thank you for sharing your story. It is a gracious and valuable message.

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  4. Good heavens that sounded horrendous , we trust in the medical profession too much sometimes. I always went down the route of homeopathic medicine which backfired when I refused tablets for gastro reflux! Not a good comparison I know.

    So sorry you missed your husbands send off, I am sure he would have understood. Almost everyday some reference is made to my dad it would have been his birthday on Friday he would have been 90. He was lucky to live to 82 .

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