Choices and Chronic Pain

I was asked a question recently about why I did make the solid choice to stop taking pain medication. The person who asked this question has chronic pain and is very smart and understands the many reasons why one would choose to go off of medication. However, this person wanted to know what was the one thing that really stood out when I made this choice. He has become quite a muse for me as he comes out with very intellectual questions that so many people with chronic pain are probably wondering. Yes, there are many reasons I chose to manage my chronic pain naturally but I have to backtrack to fully explain my final reason for this choice.

I did not always take pain medication for chronic pain. When I was in my teens I was very ignorant to pain medications. I took a ton of Excedrin and I remember all the stomach aches I suffered from the amount of Excedrin I took. I also took many medications for pain but were not pain killers so to speak. Obviously, nothing worked or I would have stopped searching for a cure. I did however self medicate with alcohol during my college years. I drank for completely different reasons then my college friends did. I hit rock bottom when I was about twenty one living in Boulder, Colorado. I have told this story before but I will go down that path for this specific post. I was living with my boyfriend and his seven roommates in Boulder. I was not going to school as the pain and partying got to be too much. I was drinking to a point that I gained at least forty pounds and drinking no longer became fun. I hated myself and I hated my life. One day I was lying on an unmade mattress on the floor in my boyfriends room. There were red wine stains everywhere and I just started screaming from physical and emotional pain: “I want to die! This is not living!” Long story short my boyfriend at the time drove me to the Mayo Clinic and refused to leave until we had some answers. After being there for about two months and seeing every specialist possible and being given every test imaginable the main doctor there told me words that I never wanted to hear: “You have chronic pain and there is no cure. We have a Pain Rehab Program here that I truly think will help you.” After fighting his words for a few days I decided to give the Pain Rehab Center a shot. I was so scared but I was also out of options. I did amazing following the Mayo Clinic PRC program until many years later when I re-lapsed so to speak. I took too much on in my life and stopped working the program. I no longer ate healthy, no longer meditated, and worked at least nine hours a day as a medical social worker without eating as I put my patients health and well being ahead of mine. I started drinking after work and even smoking cigarettes on so called breaks. My pain levels got the best of me because I stopped taking care of myself. I ended up looking for that chronic pain cure again and that was when I was truly introduced to pain killers. Percocet was amazing at first. I was able to take a low dose and my pain was tolerable. Overtime I needed more and more to get the same result. I took pain medication for a couple years until I had my second miscarriage. I had my miscarriage on my birthday and at that moment I knew I had to go back to living with my chronic pain naturally. It was the quote that stated: “A year from now you will wish you started today.” My miscarriage had nothing to do with the medicine I was on but I was tired of hating myself and my life. I did not want to take my one year old to any more doctor appointments. I did not want my life to revolve around pain. I knew that if I continued to take pain medication I would not be able to be the mother I have always dreamed of being. I also knew that if I wanted to have more children and I needed to take care of myself and love myself again. I used to have nightmares that I ran out of medication or that my doctor would not re-fill my medication. My life had once again revolved around pain. Once I stopped taking medication for pain and stopped going to any doctor for pain, my life no longer revolved around pain. I once again could live. I cancelled my doctor’s appointment and walked with my daughter to the health food store for a drink called Kambucha.

There are so many reasons to not take pain medications and most of us know them. If someone offered me a painkiller I would never accept it. I got to a point where I was just done. Some people may never reach that point and who the hell am I to judge? I cannot feel your pain just as you cannot feel mine. I just want people to know it is possible to live with chronic pain naturally. If someone told me this years ago I honestly would have just stopped reading and walked away. So, if you are reading my blog I cannot thank you enough. If you are reading my blog you are an amazing person because I do write things people may not be ready to read but they keep reading. We are all at different stages with our journey with chronic pain. We all have different reasons for the ways we cope with pain.

This quote Bill Cosby said pretty much sums up the exact time and reason I gave up pain medication and searching for a cure. I am so much happier since I made that brutal choice.

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Choices and Chronic Pain

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12 thoughts on “Choices and Chronic Pain

  1. Fantastically written as always and nice to learn a little more about you. I walked 3 miles today with my kids which was a milestone and that yoga meditation cd arrived yay! I havnt listened to it yet but can’t wait 🙂

  2. I’m at a point where I can’t imagine not using morphine for the pain I have. I guess I’ll have to poke around your blog to see exactly what you do for the pain. Good on you for your decision. Drugs always have side effects.

  3. Michelle says:

    Keep on writing. I too have chronic pain. I gave up seeing doctors for a while but still couldn’t get pregnant so I had to start the search for a cure again. Found a great treatment — neuro feedback — that has helped reduce the pain and depression — and just a few weeks ago I received my diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia. I admire your decision to live without meds and get great inspiration from your lifestyle choices, which have helped me to start improving my health habits.

  4. Samuel says:

    I am afraid. That is something hard to admit but fear is one of the nastiest side effects of pain & managing pain w/ doctors and medication. When I was young & pain was something directly related to working too long or injury this was not the case. Now that pain is unrelenting & I have to rely on Dr.’s, pharmacies, and insurance companies I am almost constantly afraid of the complications that all too often occur in procuring the medications I need to manage pain. Afraid that these institutions will no longer recognize what I must endure on a daily basis and decide for for one reason or another that my pain doesn’t rise to their standards for treatment. They don’t see the pain I live with and can’t really know how intolerable my daily pain levels are. But I’m also very aware that as the years go by the medications I take will no longer offer the same relief they give now & that the pain continues it’s silent and steady creep that will eventually again have it’s grasp on every minute of my life. So I struggle w/ how much pain is too much & how much medication I will allow myself to manage it. The problem is that I have no real answers to this. What I do know is that the more ways I can learn to manage my pain w/out Dr’s & medications the more freedom I will have & the more control I have over what the rest of my life will look like. Pain will always be part of my life and I don’t know that I will ever be able to be free of medications and treatments but reading your posts do give me hope that there is a chance I can learn to be more accepting of my pain and learn to be more grateful for what life has given to me rather than grieving for what pain has taken away.

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