By Tracy Cabanting
I can’t remember the last time I was this scared. I’m scared of going to see my doctor of 10 years tomorrow. I’m scared of going to my pharmacy on Thursday. I’m scared the DEA is going to shut my doctor down or show up at my house! Panic attacks and bouts of anxiety have become the daily norm for me. It’s bad enough I am in severe pain 24/7, now. I’m freaking out all the time.
All because I take high dose/high quantity opioid pain meds. Twelve years ago, I injured my back giving birth and since then my condition has gotten much worse and I continue to decline at a steady rate. Luckily, ten years ago, I found my doctor and he has been beyond amazing in treating me. I guess we are even “friends” on some level. He trusts me. I’ve worked hard to build that trust. I MAKE him pull quarterly pharmacy reports on me so he knows he’s my ONLY prescribing doctor. I never ask for my meds early. I’ve always had paperwork to prove any changes I needed and he always knows if I’ve gone to the ER the day of or the following. I am a Model Patient when it comes to my pain meds!
I have been on my current regime of meds for about 2+ years now. Not once has he wanted to change them. They are working for me. Yes, they are high doses and large quantities, but I’ve been on opioids for over 10 years and my pain has increased substantially. When you have no cartilage in your lower back and you FEEL AND HEAR your bones grinding together when you walk, it doesn’t feel good! My injury is also very well documented by MRI’s, X-Rays, a failed back surgery, and many, many exams. My new neurologist suggested Physical Therapy! Are you kidding me?!?!?! There’s nothing I can do but manage my pain for the foreseeable future until I can have surgery somehow.
But, will I spend that time in utter pain and agony now? Will the rest of the class be punished because one kid acted out? I agree that in SOMETHING cases, opioid meds are being abused and sold and are a problem, but in a situation like mine, they are the only reason I can get out of bed and walk around my house 99% of the time and I may have that severely reduced or taken away because everyone is freaking out and the media is blaring how bad these meds are and now doctors and pharmacists are swinging the pendulum in the extreme opposite way! This is NOT the solution! Where is Common Sense in all this? Where is reason? It makes me angry, it makes me sad, and it makes me scared!
I’ve been keeping a Pain Journal since April 1st I plan on giving to my doctor. It’s a daily account of what I go through with my pain, my flare ups, and now living with this stigma and fear. I hope he reads it and gets what I’m saying for myself and his other patients.
I may be in pain 24/7 but I am NOT going to sit on my thumbs while all of this cr*p in the pain meds and chronic pain world is going on and do nothing! I will write columns like this. I will join advocacy groups. I will join Facebook groups. I will call my local news stations. I will protest out my State Capitol and pharmacies if I have to! And you should, too! We have medical need for these drugs. We are not criminals. We have rights. We are in pain. We are patients, not addicts.
Let’s not be scared, let’s advocate for ourselves and other patients.
I have a feeling that I’m in for an interesting ride, and I hope you’ll all join me.
Tracy Cabanting is 37 and lives in Reno, NV. She’s been a Chronic Pain Patient for 12 years due to a sever back injury. Now disabled, she writes, cooks, knits and crochets, and does woodburnings to stay sane and get through the daily pain. She plans on advocating for Chronic Pain Patients and their rights.