When I think back on the times I used pain medications to get through the day, I feel like I was a failure. I am filled with so much guilt it is unbelievable. But then I think…
If I didn’t have pain medication, I wouldn’t have survived long enough to still be here.
I am so far from being dramatic because while I completely and totally understand the argument about how we need harsh regulations on pain medications, there is another side to it. The patients side.
I have had severe ulcerative colitis since I was 13 years old, gone through 14 major operations including the loss of my entire large intestine, rectum and anus and now live with an ileostomy. Since my diagnosis, I have had so many complications that has affected every part of my body. I never had a break. It affected my sleep and since the age of 16, I have been dealing with chronic DAILY migraines. Not kidding. I have a migraine every single solitary day. Some days I can slap a smile on my face, stay busy and distracted and go on about my business. Other days I can’t. I have been to more doctors than I even remember and tried more medications than anyone ever should put in their body. But here I am now, almost 14 years following my IBD diagnosis and 11 years of suffering with debilitating migraines. I am still in pain every single day. Regardless if you see it in me. I live my life in agony.
At around 6am when I woke up, my head was terrible. When I start having pain radiating down my neck, I know it is going to be a bad migraine day. I was going back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should take something for the pain right then and there or see if trying to sleep a little bit more would help. I decided not to take anything and tried to “sleep it off” which never works but I was hopeful. When I woke back up an hour later, I was in so much pain.
If I took something immediately would it have been better? I am not sure but doubtful. I have tried to take pain meds as soon as I know pain is getting too bad but sometimes I just need to take more later. So I try to hold off. I don’t want to wake up, take something to try to ward it off only to need another dose a few hours later. I don’t want to take medications. I hate them.
Today, I had an appointment that I wanted to keep. I didn’t want to put things off. I wanted to be able to carry on about my day. I cannot stand being held back by pain. And I have a HUGE pain tolerance. I have survived waking up from major surgery WITHOUT ANY PAIN MEDICATIONS. I have gone through hell and back and never complain about things unless its really, really bad.
But I am sick and tired of living in pain.
The only reason I was able to get my head off the pillow this morning was because I took something for my migraine. And now I can function for a few hours. But, the medication only allows me 10 migraines a month. And I always have more than that and sometimes need two doses in one day. So where does that leave me? Should I have held off on taking something just in case things get really bad at the end of the month? Was it the right thing to do to try to help myself in the moment? What will my doctor think if I tell him I have needed to use the pain medication more than usual? Will he think I am just a wimp who can’t handle a little pain? Will he get annoyed at me if I am honest in saying the preventative medication does nothing and the only thing that helps is taking pain meds as needed? Should I ween myself off the preventative (seeing as I have been on and off it for years) so I don’t have to waste time explaining things my doctor can’t fathom? And then just continue treating the pain as it comes?
Pain is detrimental to your overall health. It destroys your spirit, it destroys your sleep, it destroys your brain, it destroys your mood. It is just awful to deal with everyday.
No one wants to take medications. No one wants to feel like they can’t have the day they want unless they do whatever necessary to relieve themselves of suffering. No one wants the guilt of needing to take medication. No one wants to have these conversations with doctors. NO ONE WANTS A LIFE OF PAIN.
But given that there are some things out of our control and so many people who live in debilitating pain everyday, why should we feel guilty about trying to help ourselves? As the reality of the last 14 years gets clearer, I feel less and less guilt about helping myself. I did what I needed to do to survive. We all do what we have to. I just wish there was a little more understanding from doctors and the government about what it means to live in chronic pain.