a day in the life of an opioid addict

A day in the life of an opioid addict

I wake up in the morning and immediately feel the crushing pain that has a hold over my entire body. The pain radiates from my shoulders to my toes, but I have to get out of bed so I can get my kids to school. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I don’t even consider taking pain medication because the pain isn’t bad enough yet. No, I’m going to try to see if I can be strong enough. I get out of bed and spend the next 30 minutes rushing to get my kids to school on time. I try to not take my pain levels out on them so I smile and wave as they walk towards the bus.

After my kids leave I get dressed to go on my walk. Every doctor I’ve ever seen has told me that exercise would help my pain levels. I know better. I know that exercise makes my pain level quadruple, but I do it anyway because that’s the only way I can get doctors to take me seriously. I know it’s going to hurt, but I decide to push through the pain.

I get home from exercise and drag myself into the shower. My pain level has shot up even higher, but I try to get myself showered and ready for the day. My hands are so swollen and painful that I have trouble straightening my hair so I decide that I’ll just have to wear it curly. It’s 9:30 am and I don’t know how i’ll get through the day at my current pain level.

I sit down at the computer to work, but I can’t concentrate. I’m supposed to be writing, but all I can think about is how much my body hurts. I manage to cobble something together in a couple hours, but it’s not my best. After sitting in a chair for so long my body is in agony. I don’t even consider taking pain medication, my pain still isn’t bad enough.

I rest on my heating pad for a few minutes. It helps a little bit so I decide to do some gentle yoga to see if it calms down my aching muscles. I’m five minutes in when I get a phone call from my son’s school, he’s had an asthma attack and I need to come get him. I try to get up off the floor, but it takes me several tries because the pain keeps hitting me in waves.

I drive to the school and get my son from the nurse. Then I get in line at the school office to check my child out. My legs are aching as the person in front of me in line spends 5 minutes detailing some overly complicated problem. By the time we finally make it out of there I’m not sure if my body is going to hold up the rest of the day.

I spend the rest of the afternoon trying to work and simultaneously entertain my son.  I keep having to get up and down so I can help him with various things. Every time he asks for something I want to cry because moving causes so much pain. I still don’t consider taking pain medication.

A few hours later I pick up my daughter from school and take her to dance class. I have to sit in an uncomfortable chair for two hours and I am in agony. Somehow I manage to keep it together. I don’t know how.

I go home and start to make dinner for my family. My pain level is so high I know that I need to cook something easy. I’m able to cook dinner and do the dishes in less than 30 minutes, but it’s still too much. By now I’m screaming inside my head, screaming “PLEASE JUST LET IT STOP FOR A FEW SECONDS.” But I keep on going and so does the pain. I help my kids with their homework, I talk to them about their day, I get them ready for bed, all the while in agony.

My day is finally over and I can rest, but my pain level has shot up so high I can’t get to sleep. I use all my pain creams, I strap on my quell device, I take a hot bath to see if it can relax my muscles, but no relief comes. At 1:00 am I’m still wracked with pain and I know I’ll never get to sleep in that condition. My day tomorrow is another busy one and I don’t know how I’m going to survive it with no sleep. I reluctantly get out of bed and take one Hydrocodone. It takes about 30 minutes for it to kick in, but it eventually moves my pain level from an 8 to a 5. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it’s enough to allow me a night’s sleep. Who knows how I’ll manage tomorrow. I don’t have enough pain medication to take one every time my pain gets out of control, so sometimes I just have to suffer and go without sleep for several nights in a row. Each time I go without sleep my pain level rises higher.

I feel like I’ve let myself down. I must not have tried hard enough to address my pain in other ways, I must not have a very high pain tolerance, I could have handled SOMETHING differently, but because I apparently didn’t do enough I’m told I am an opioid addict. I’m an “opioid addict” that just wants to be physically able to care for my children, who just wants to live a semi- normal life, and who only takes pain medicine in emergencies.  I feel branded, labeled, pigeonholed, ignored, and desperate. In my mind I know:

  • When doctors on television bemoan the lazy addicted masses who take opioids for chronic pain thereby causing the opioid epidemic, they are talking about me.
  • When famous actors give speeches about the over prescription of opioids, they’re talking about me.
  • When the CDC recommends that people with chronic pain just need to try Tylenol, they are talking about me.
  • When the DEA decides to reduce the number of opioids manufactured because too many people are using them for pain, they are talking about me.
  • When doctors refuse to give out prescriptions for pain medicine because only addicts need them, they’re talking about me.

This is me they are talking about, the “opioid addict” whose medication needs to be taken away so they can save me from myself and my “addiction.” Thank goodness for politicians and actors that know more about my body than both me and my doctor. With their influence I know I can overcome my so called addiction and my chronic pain will just disappear.

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9 thoughts on “A day in the life of an opioid addict

  1. From what I’ve was told by more than one doctor, one of the problems with pain medicine, especially opiates, has come from not taking them according to directions from their creators.

    Doctors, afraid of over-prescribing, told people to take one every 10-12 hrs when the appropriate dose timing should have been 6-8. This was often after surgeries, etc., and because people were in such pain they started doubling doses. So the patients are doubling doses, then the pain wears off, so the highs begin and addiction can start.

    That’s why I wonder at your doc’s ok of your current situation. Based in the above scenarios, it’s actually a more dangerous way of taking pain meds than regular dosages would be. After my chronic pain continued to get worse I did go to pain management, where I do get medication but also occasional injections to block pain, etc. they also have you see a shrink to talk about dealing with pain and its effects. Very helpful. I remember you saying it was very expensive but if there is any way your doc could make the case to insurance?

    1. It does seem counterproductive to me, but the fear of addiction overtakes everything. I could actually get more medicine from my doctor but then I would have to pay out of pocket every month for drug testing and it’s $1800. That’s just too much money. I haven’t looked into shots at all, I’ll have to do some research since my doctor is usually pretty willing to work with me on alternatives.

    1. Pain management clinics around me don’t hand out pain medicine very much anymore unfortunately. I consider myself lucky my PCP is willing to give me anything.

    2. You are very lucky if pain clinics in your state actually deal with clients who have chronic pain. Here in Michigan they refuse to take me on a lupus patient since ‘they dont have much success with chronic pain sufferers!’ Amazing huh? They like surgery patients, etc, because they can help them, the body heals and the patient is off and out of their service, but chronic pain sufferers have very little success with their silly witch doctor treatments, which they make an ungodly amount of money on, and which have debateable results in pain relief!

  2. Yep! You’ve hit the nail on the head! I wake up in the morning with sense of dread and wonder how much the floor is going to hurt me when I get out of bed, so I don’t until my other issues insist on making my broken body travel the few steps into my ensuite.
    I have 4 chronic conditions, a body that is also suffering from the intense 26 years of medications (no opiates though until a few years ago!!) and I’m currently trying to come to terms with a new issue as yet undiagnosed even though I’ve been hounding Drs for 2 to 3 years! Somedays I wonder how I’ll get through my day let alone the rest of my life but I must say its the only reason I can accept the fact my body wouldn’t allow me to have kids! I can barely look after my dog and me most days, and then even the dog gets put on a shelf some days! My heart broke when I was told I could never have kids, and in truth its another daily struggle for me everytime I see a happy family but I know in my heart it was for the best, genetically (3 of my 4 issues are hereditary!!) and realistically.
    Today was a not so good day, I did get out of bed so not a bad bad day (I only moved to the sofa so not a great day!)! I followed a link on a friends facebook page to here at about 10.30am its now 1am and I’m still working my way through your blog post by post!
    You are brave, strong, talented and beautiful! Your blog has definitely matured over the years but even though none of my conditions are the same as yours I can identify with almost everything you say! (and even some of the things I feel you wanna say but never do!!) I’m in the UK so I don’t have the same medical bills issue but health care over here is a postcode (zip code) lottery and our choices are limited as far as Drs go!
    To me anyone dealing with chronic illness and still taking the time out to smile and laugh is a hero to me, even more so if they are holding down a job (housewife IS a job!!), running around after children, participating in church and charities and maintaining a positive blog!
    You are my Superhero of the month!
    Luv’n’ugs (gentle ones!!) xxxxx

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