My story is oh so very similar to many featured here, but in a slightly different way. I have fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain, and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), along with their varied comorbid friends, like irritable bowel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy.
I also have a significant other with three blown discs in his back. Both of us have been on opioids for a long time, and also seeing the same doctor. I live in Massachusetts. I love my doctor, and would not want to trade him for the world. My whole family sees him, right down to my granddaughter.
Two months ago he came into my regular monthly appointment with a disheartened look on his face. I could also see some sadness and regret.
I am on a lot of medications, some of which I’ve been taking for 15 years. It has taken us a very long time to come to the mix of meds that work best for me, and my breakthrough pain med had changed recently. Luckily the new one was doing well and I started rattling off things about my newly diagnosed temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) that I, for the first time in months, did not have a headache from.
I soon found out why he was so somber. Our governor had just signed a large bill concerning stemming the heroin epidemic here in the northeast. The reason there are so many using heroin now is because they started to crack down on the pain clinics in Florida and stopping the pills coming up the east coast.
Once there aren’t as many pills, the price goes up, and people turn to heroin. So you’d think they would open more clinics, and get people off of the illegal drugs.
I was not ready in any way, shape, or form for what happened next. I knew they were cracking down on some people, but I never thought that day it would be me.
I went from changing a transdermal pain patch every two days, because I metabolize some medications quickly, to having to change it every three days. Oh, and the breakthrough pain meds that were finally working on my TMJ until I could get my insurance to cover a mouth guard to wear at night? Completely and utterly gone. I’m now supposed to use one of my “extended release” medications for breakthrough pain. It doesn’t work like that.
I have NEVER abused my pain medications, and the only thing my doctor has ever done has been to treat me with respect and treat my pain. Yes, the normal individual would be knocked out by what I take, and if you look at it from the outside, it’s a lot of meds. But I have also been with the same doctor since 1999, and my whole point is that it shouldn’t be looked at from the outside. I do not call my scripts in early. I do not run out early. I take them as prescribed. So why am I being made to do with less medications?
I have gone from having the luxury of going out once a week, maybe twice if I was really feeling well, to leaving the house once a month to go to my doctor’s appointment. I am almost bedridden some days now, after fighting for so long not to be. I have kids and a granddaughter living with me, and I can no longer be in their lives as much. It has put so much pressure on my 20-year old daughter that she has changed college plans partly so she can commute from home and make sure that her parents are okay and grocery shopping gets done, etc.
I know the theory behind the law – you take the pills and heroin off the street, get people help and the “epidemic” gets better. However, how are medications that I rely on to function and put into my body going to help reduce anything outside of my body?
They aren’t. The numbers look good on paper though.
I went out yesterday and went to three places, just running errands. I now feel like an 18 wheeler ran me over in my sleep. I’ve taken my meds. It’s not going to get better today unless I go to the ER and hope they can give me something.
I’m better off trying to just sleep through the pain, which is often an exercise in futility. Who the heck in their right minds would want someone to suffer needlessly? The answer is no one.
However, that is exactly what has happened, and it is neither fair nor right. But that’s the way it is.
Audrey Liebl lives in Springfield, Massachusetts with her family.
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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 represents 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.