Miss Understood: Learning to Live Without Painkillers

Miss Understood: Learning to Live Without Painkillers

On May 1 of this year I was involved in a car accident. I fell asleep at the wheel and collided with a light post.

I was awakened the moment I hit the curb and had no time to react. My legs were crushed, I hit my head on the window, and I had a burning sensation on my neck and arm. Thankfully, no one else was hurt.

I was taken to a nearby hospital and the paramedics told me I could have died in the crash because my car was totaled and the light pole had been knocked over. I was rushed into radiology to make sure nothing was broken.

bigstock-Out-of-focus-woman-extending--34477478I informed the nurses of my conditions and asked for the pain medication that I normally receive when I’m hospitalized, but the nurse simply ignored me. I was in the worst pain of my life and even though I told the staff morphine doesn’t work for me, it was all I was given.

As soon as they found out I didn’t have any broken bones or severe abrasions besides a concussion, I was released and given a prescription for ibuprofen. I was dumbfounded by the lack of care I received. No one would listen or bothered to hear me out. As soon as they knew everything I was suffering from, as far as my diseases, they looked at me with fear in their eyes.

My husband took the initiative and called my doctor while we waited for my discharge papers. My doctor was extremely helpful and sent over a much stronger pain prescription. He wanted me to be admitted, but I refused because I knew the hospital would not be receptive to my needs.

So I went home to recover — and when it all sank in — I became hysterical.

What if my children were in the car with me? What if the crash killed me? What if I would have killed someone else? I had so many thoughts running through my head and, at the same time, I was hurting from my external wounds. I didn’t know which of the two was worse.

I was seen by a neurologist a few days later to evaluate why I fell asleep or if I had a seizure. My results came back and everything was normal. The conclusion was that I was on too many pain medications. At the time, I wore a fentanyl patch, took Dilauded, Norco, Percocet, and the list goes on.

At the time, my mind was foggy and I was always sleepy.

Some doctors give chronic pain sufferers such as myself pain medication as if they were candy. But I know my body and I know when there are too many toxins going into it. I’m proud to say I no longer use pain medication.

I slowly detoxed and, although I’m constantly in pain, I refuse to take anything for it. Some people think I’m crazy or ignorant for choosing to kick painkillers, but my accident was a wake up call.

I no longer feel like dying would solve my problems with chronic pain. Although many people don’t understand, I’m doing this for my children. Others are quick to suggest I take a painkiller when I tell them how bad I feel, but for the first time in years I’m thinking clearly. There are good and bad days, but the good definitely outweigh the bad.

Arlene Grau

Arlene Grau

I hold no grudges or anger towards the medical staff that mistreated me in the past. All I want is to move forward. I hope that one day we as pain sufferers can be heard and treated equally.

Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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arlene Grau

karen: I commend you on your triumph! I also changed my diet and take lots of supplements as well as use tumeric in meals! It warms my heart to hear your story. best wishes and God bless!

I too suffer from Lupus, Fibro, Osteoarthritis, CRPS and spinal stenosis. I made the decision to stop all my meds except my anti-depressant and my heart/bp meds for Lupus. My Rheumy was mad and my Pain Doctor fired me. I made the decision based on the cons of the pain meds: Weight gain, brain fog, no energy and still had breakthrough pain. I now take Magnesium, Calcium, D3 and Zinz, along with B Complex. I cook with a lot of Tumeric and follow a Paleo diet now. I can tell you I celebrate getting control back from all the Doctors that controlled me like a puppet. Not that Doctors are bad, I felt empowered finally dealing with the pain on MY terms. It may not be the right choice for everyone and at times I would kill for a pain pill. But in those moments when my pain is unbearable, I go into a quiet room, close my eyes and deep breathe. I imagine I am leaving my body and floating in a river of warm water, completely safe and at peace. It is amazing the healing power your mind has. Everyone must chose the route that is best for them, not saying my way is right, just is right for me right now. God Bless!

arlene Grau

trudy: it took me about a month to clean my system. my doctor followed me closely and I do have some at home if I feel the need to take them rather than going to the hospital. I slowly decreased my intake little by little but it was hard, that’s for sure.

Janice: this is something that worked for me, I never said it works for everyone and that pain meds are a bad thing. I was on them for 5 years, I chose to stop using them. being insulting or bringing my children into the conversation is childish. it’s sad that not only non pain suffers don’t understand, but people like yourself who may know what it feels like choose to knock a person down for trying to do what they feel is right for them.

I think pain can be as distracting as being on meds. Pain to me isn’t optional-I hurt bad enough that I NEED THEM

Janice Reynolds

Stories like this do people with pain no favors. Yes you were likely overmedicated, but that was your pain plan’s fault. People who are on appropriate doses of opioids (the right dose is the one that controls the pain with the least amount of side effects) become tolerant to the side effect of sedation/sleepiness. Your pain plan instead of including so many different opioids should have included one and other medications such known as adjuvant or co-analgesics. You are doing your children no favors not taking any medication and being in pain; pain will cause cognitive impairment as much if not more than medications-when you say “how bad I feel” and yet you believe you are thinking clearly is an oxymoron. Pain has other harmful properties as well. So don’t lump a bad pain plan in with blaming the medication. If you want to risk your health and your children’s by doing this don’t imply it is somehow a good thing.

Trudy McGee

How long did it take to get off of all the pain meds? was the pain worse as you got off of them? Did you have a doctor help you get off of the meds? Did you take other meds to help with titration down? Do you take other meds now that help with the pain that are not narcotics?

Rob Kay

Ask her again in a few years.