Before I begin this post I would like to say that I totally understand why people take pain medication for chronic pain. Chronic pain can be a living hell and where there is someway to find relief, most of us take it. For people without chronic pain, never judge someone who takes medication for chronic pain. Remember last week when you had cramps, a headache, or a toothache? Did you take Advil or something to relieve the pain? Well, imagine having that pain except it never goes away…..ever. I am writing this post to explain why I had to make a solid decision to not take pain medication as I feel it was causing more pain and hurting my life more than helping it.
Following brain surgery I was just happy to be alive but also scared to death to start a new school looking and feeling the way I did. The ramifications (chronic pain) did not really begin to surface until my Senior year of high school. In the beginning of my search for a cure to my chronic pain doctors put me on many different medications and some were strictly for pain relief. I think I have been prescribed more medications than many of the patients I had as a medical social worker, and that is saying a lot. Honestly if a doctor told me to eat bark off of a tree for the rest of my life I would have done it. Hell, I allowed a surgeon to cut nerve endings off of my face, not once but twice! Point being, people with chronic pain will do most anything to relieve their pain.
Pain medication such as Percocet can be amazing for people with chronic pain, until it isn’t. I remember being prescribed Percocet and taking the pill and thinking: “Holy shit! This works!!!! I can live again!” Then after the pill wore off I would take another one. Once the second pill wore off I would take another one and so on and so on. The longer one is on a pain medication the more he or she needs in order to get the same relief. Then one day you wake up and you are freaking out because you are almost out of medication and your next appointment is not for two weeks. Then your anxiety is so high you cannot tell what is worse….the pain or the anxiety? If you have chronic pain, you know exactly what I am talking about. It is hell!!!!! Once you reach the maximum dose (or even higher) then is FDA approved it is extremely hard to function and live any life at all. One (like myself) begins focusing solely on pain medication and the relief it can give. That is the main reason I no longer take anything for chronic pain. I could not live like that any longer, especially as a mother. I was taking pain medication and yet my pain was worse than it is now without the medication. This is not a coincidence.
The second reason I no longer take pain medication is because taking something for chronic pain only reminds me that I have chronic pain. As my readers know I work my ass off to train my brain to not think about pain. That could be a mantra (it rhymes!.) How can I not think about pain if I am reaching into a pill box for pain medication. Each pill is just another reminder that I have chronic pain. Since I no longer take pain medication, I can truly work on mindfulness and using that mantra I just came up with. Train your brain to not think about pain.
If you are taking medication for chronic pain and do not want to, you can do it! I am living, breathing proof. The quote that truly got me to never take pain medication again was: “A year from now you will wish you started today.” But, like anything else it is a process and does not happen overnight. People have to be truly ready to stop looking for a cure and stop taking pain medication. If someone told me years ago to give up the one thing I thought was helping me I may have screamed my head off. However, it can be done and trust me living with chronic pain without pain medication is priceless. I cannot express how much healthier and happier I am. The greatest part is that since I no longer take anything for pain relief, my pain levels have gone down dramatically.