Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not a Junkie

Thank you to Blurbette and #TeamAfterParty for bringing this simmering topic back to a brain boil.

Days like today find me feeling like a junkie. At least, I think that other people may see it that way. See, the doctor that signs my pain prescription took a long vacation around the holiday, a vaction which happened to include the day my Rx needed to be filled. So, I was, of course, left waiting. I have only rarely experienced any sense of urgency from medical professionals regarding pain treatment.

After years of fighting and enduring, I did finally get my health pros to take my pain seriously. My GP/gateway provider was particularly hesitant. He did decide (eventually!) that my pain is indeed real, and I am not seeking to sell my pills on the street. Even so, my ability to live my day to day life with at least some freedom of pain is not, and has never been, a priority for anyone with a sheepskin.

The difference between opiate dependence and opiate addiction is not obvious to the casual observer. One of the reasons I hate being called an addict is that addiction is a whole different experience, and I do not want to appropriate that experience set as my own when my addictions are mild: caffeine and nicotine.

I am dependent. This means that I require opiates to modulate my pain (it is long past being negated through most anything) and get through even a vaguely normal day. I acquire them through completely legal means, and there has never been any solid inquiry regarding my integrity. By “no solid inquiry” I, of course, mean other than the default suspicion that accompanies using opiates in the first place!

I take a very strong opiate, and still I do not have pain free days.

People dependant on opiates go through withdraw just like addicts do. The difference between dependent and addicted is not a physical one, in my experience, but a moral one. Unless you are willing to break the law and either buy off the street, or doctor shop, or whatever – there is nothing you can do but wait for the duly appointed authority figure in the matter to get off their DAMN ASS and take care of business.

It is not as if I am the one that insists that I need opiates to control my pain. I tried, both through my own suggestion, the suggestions of friends and strangers, and my DEA worried docs’ suggestions just about every non-opiate pain killer out there. I have also, a very few times, drunk myself into a stupor as a last resort escape from consciousness, if not pain. My liver is still not happy about any of that. To be honest, if killing a chicken in the light of the full moon could relieve my pain, I would probably do it. Nothing works but opiates, and I had a truckload of Nancy Reagan to get out of my damn head before I could even begin to be okay with that.

Extreme, unrelenting pain is insane making. No, I am not taking a poke at folks that qualify as insane – I mean that extreme pain can cause symptoms similar to several diagnosable mental illnesses. Pain can lead to shortness of temper, irritability, paranoia, loss of cognitive function, loss of memory, compulsive behavior, self-harm (in my opinion, this is an attempt to set off the CNS’s pain gate function), loss of physical ability, and unpredictable bouts of extreme anger, frustration, guilt, morose, ennui, and pissed-off-ness. Yeah, ahh, those would be, you know, industry terms…

As I write this, I am coming up on missing my first dose. Within a day after that, if it goes that far, I will have extra super flu-like symptoms (lupus is kind of like having the flu all the time anyway), I will hate the whole damn world, and my vocabulary with mainly consist of the kind of language people use when they tell the Aristocrats joke. It is all I can do right now to try to accomplish all the things that will need to be done for a little while in case I need to retreat to my bed, curl up under a blanket I will then play Too Hot Too Cold with, and spit random curses at the world.

There are a lot of side effects I experience that I am not, and will probably not go into here or with much of anyone that does not need to know. And my experience with this may not the same as anyone else’s, let alone everyone else’s.

Oh, and every six months I have to go though a “Do you still really need these pills?” appointment. Look, if I was all better one of the first things I would do is call all the docs that have been humane, recognized my humanity and sing their praises; then call the other docs and describe, in loud detail, what anatomically impossible feats I would like them to perform for me.


As of today, the day I post this, everything is fine. If you were kind enough to have a thought about my well being… well, first, bless you heart! Caring about people on the internet! You are an exemplary human being, Gentle Reader. Second, I am okay. This article was written early, in order to make sure I had something to post even if my doc did not get back to me in time to take away my short term ticket to hell. My doc was still gone, but my old doc is in the same office, was in attendance, and she did come through. So I am okay, and no more likely to explode at anyone than I am on any other regular.