Why I Hate That Stupid Sherrif Dude and Dr. House
This is a post I've been dithering about for some time now. I've wanted very badly to write it because of how central the issues are to my life. But I've been very afraid to write it because of the misperception that is sure to follow. But as I sit here at my desk, tears streaming down my face, I think it's finally time for me to say something.
The Sherrif of Williamson County was arrested for having a bunch of pain pills. He claims they were for his personal use, despite having enough on hand to have taken 17 pills a day. He's now in rehab for drug addiction.
From Matthew Perry to Michael English to Rush Limbaugh to Nicole Ritchie. There is always someone famous who is public about his or her addiction to painkillers.
And thanks to these people I am forced to live 80% of my life in excruciating, debilitating pain. (Yes, I realise that sounds like a drama queen of the first order and I'm sorry for that.) I have two chronic conditions, the overlap of which means that I am generally in pain for one thing or the other. Just to give you an idea, both conditions--severe endometriosis and chronic kidney stone formation--are deemed to cause a pain equal to (the endometriosis) or far worse than (kidney stones) the pain of childbirth.
I have found myself unwittingly in the middle of a large debate in the medical community. Out of fear of board sanctions, most physicians are undertreating chronic pain. That basically means that doctors know their patients are hurting and still refuse to do what is necessary.
The misperception about patients with chronic pain continues. Medical experts agree that most pain patients can successfully use narcotics without consequences. Folks like me who take pain medication for, you know, actual pain do not feel the euphoria associated with the abuse of pain medication. The likelihood of a chronic pain sufferer becoming addicted to their pain medication is somewhere between 3 and 14%. Yet we have to put up with the Dr. House character on TV, a chronic pain sufferer shown as a blithering addict. The last episode of the show I watched had him begging for a spinal morphine injection, being given a placebo and exhibiting relief. Everyone seemed to think that was a wonderful way to prove to the world that the use of pain medication by chronic pain sufferers is an unnecessary weakness.
I would estimate that 75% of my waking life is spent in attempts to manage chronic pain. I have drastically changed my diet and learned self-hypnosis. My husband has learned acupressure techniques. All of these help to a degree, but generally involve my doing nothing more than sitting in a chair or laying on the couch trying to overcome the hurt. (Did I mention that I also take about 30-32 advil a day?)
What does help in my case are opiod pain relievers. Just to give you an idea, I receive 12 Lortab a month. (Remember, the sherrif had enough to take 17 a day....) I save my stronger drugs for times when I absolutely must be able to move without pain. You know what? This makes me angry. But thanks to the well-publicised fools who love to abuse these drugs to get high, I can't even have enough to make it through more than 5 days a month without crippling pain.