Without Prejudice. The posts in this blog are only my opinion, and should not replace or be considered that of a qualified physician. Brand names that are commented on are not meant to disrespect of be defamatory in any sense. The posts in this blog are only based on my personal experience under a doctor monitored and regulated use of opiates as an effective treatment for chronic pain.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Friends with Tunnel Vision

I was at a small gathering with a healthy cross section of friends. It had become known in my circles that I was suffering back pain, and that I was undergoing several tests and scans so as to offer a diagnosis.

At the time that I began the MRI's and X-Rays and blood work, etc.. my condition had gone from something that I could cope with to a steady degenerating condition leaving me with moderate pain constantly, and if I was in any way active, severe pain.

It took almost two years to get all my scans done and to finally get in to see a neurosurgeon, who had drawn the conclusion that surgery at this point would not benefit a degenerative condition and that it would be better to consider cutting me open when when I am older. Essentially, I was too young to do such an operation, when there is a chance that the condition may either get better or worse as I age.

During these two years, my family doc would not proceed with any treatment until the final word came back from the Neurosurgeon.

Two years is a long time to wait. Especially when you are in pain.

In this position, I had two choices:
1) endure the pain, and try to manage it as best I could, including physio and a pain management program they have running at the local hospital.
2) self medicate

I guess what prompted me to begin self medicating was waking up in the mornings. Every day and night I found myself in a frustrating paradox: on one hand I was exhausted because I could not sleep comfortably. I could not lie down for any length of time, and I had began sleeping in a Lazyboy, on the couch or at my desk with my head on the keyboard. And on the other hand, if I did sleep, I would wake with such excruciating pain - what is best described as a "zipper of pain"© running down my back - that I would spend the first hour or two of each day holding my ribs and back, while I rocked back and forth crying.

A headache I could bear. And I have sprained my ankle a few times in the past. That I could suffer through as well. But everyday pain, all over the body, day in day out, in the middle of the night and the middle of the day... after a few weeks of this, I was miserable. After a few months, I had lost myself. When years had past, I was no more. I looked basically the same, but so much was taken from my heart, spirit, soul that I was all but left with a fleshy shell encasing a mass of discomfort and hurt.

So back to the party, one of my friends saw me taking a perc. and a little while later an oxy. It was known amongst my friends that I was taking them but when one young lady saw me first hand eating some pills, I was chastised!

She went off on me with a lecture from hell about all the abuse stories she heard and the experiences she had first hand watching old friends throw their lives away with this drug.

Bear in mind that while she is going on and on, she was not only drunk as fuk, but smoking joint after joint, eyes red, words slurred and emotional.

Now it is not that I don't mind listening to someones opinion and general concern for my welfare, but to add to the hypocritical fact that she was drunk and high herself, she would not listen to my reasoning behind my self medicating.

What I tried to tell her was this...
Yes, some, if not many people buy this drug illegally. And it is well abused. In my past life buying them on the street, I saw what it rendered people to. I have seen an "Oxy Den"© and saw how sick people got when they ran out.

But she was completely ignorant to the benefits of the drug in the treatment of chronic pain. And until one is able to experience chronic pain, there is no way to appreciate the lengths someone will go to, for even just a few hours of relief.

Imagine waking up in the morning with an unbearable headache. A headache that went from the top of your head, through your neck, down your back, across your ribs, and then into your hips, buttocks and legs. And imagine that the headaches is so powerful that all you can do is hold your self and cry.

Then imagine that the headache lasts past the morning, and into the afternoon. Imagine going to work with it, and then coming home. Going to bed with it and then waking up the next day with the headache still there, flucuating in waves of intensity.

Imagine how it would be for that 24 hour period - how it would affect your work for that day, your relationships, your interactions with others, your moods, your sex drive, and every aspect of your life throughout that 24 hours. You would maybe be inclined to call in sick to work. Of cancel an RSVP to a dinner party.

Then imagine that headache stays with you through a second day. Just as bad, maybe a bit worse. Imagine that no position, hot bath, massage or anything helps, and there is nothing you can do but live with it.

And at the end of the two days, imagine that you wake up at the beginning of the third day, hopeful to get back to normal only to find the headache is still there. It stay for the rest of the third day until you finally fall asleep.



take a breath.

let some time pass...


Now you wake up... and instead of your wife greeting you with a "good-morning"....
your head splits open with agony and you realize that





a very


and painful

day... again.

Week Two begins. Then the third week - every morning waking up to severe pain, spending the day with it and going to bed with it. Pain pain pain.

Then do it all again for the second month, then a third month. Then each and every day for four months, then five months. Each and everyday with no relief for six, seven, eight, nine months and all the way up to a year.

Constant pain for so long, systematically dismantles your life and turns you into a bitter, grumpy old man. Over time, it wears you thin. You spend more time trying to cope with the pain, and less time living your life. You stop being active socially and stop going to dinner with the family on Sunday. You have to leave your job, and you are unable to make love to your wife. Each day a part of your life is taken away. Each day you lose a part of who you once were until all you are and all you have is the pain.


I reached a breaking point. The doctors were not able to figure out what exactly what is the cause of my condition. Sure I had the bad discs, and the sciatica, and the spinal stenosis, but these did not add up for me, and as a diagnosis of last resort, the doctors called me fibromyalgia and gave up.

The best I got for the pain was Tramadol and some anti-inflamms. Tramadol was as good as Smarties for me, and they formed a part, of a sometimes bi-hourly cocktail that I would take. The cocktail also included T1's and Robax, Advil, industrial sized ibuprofen 600mg and a very generous helping of red wine and/or beer.

Again, back to the party, her she was, oh so pain free, telling me how Oxy will destroy my life and all I could do was laugh at her, because the one thing she did not realize is that my life was already destroyed. I was taken away from me day by day, hour by hour over the course of two years.

In a way she was simply a concerned friend. But she was not concerned about me when I was in pain. She was only concerned when I was feeling better, and the risk I was taking in order to feel better.

Her inability or unwillingness to see beyond the fact that I was taking opiates, to the reasons why I was taking them left her with tunnel vision.