Hurt Blogger asked a question of her Facebook readers today regarding helping doctors to improve their understanding of patients experiencing chronic pain and why patients take opioid relief for chronic pain.
It did cross my mind that only someone who’s never really needed pain relief could ask the question why!
However (and despite not being in America where things are very different) it is a very relevant question, how to explain it to those who simply don’t have the same reference points?
I have chronic pain from RA. Because of this and what I’ve learnt over the past few months from fellow sufferers in the US I thank heaven I live in a country where I’m not treated as an addict for legitimately requiring effective pain relief to help me function. I will state here very clearly I feel that not having access to pain medication seems to be a common reality in the US and one that to me seems totally barbaric.
Until you’ve lived with chronic pain week in week out you can have no concept of how physically and psychologically wearing it is. Just how damn tired it makes you. How much you begin to resent your own body, the one thing you can’t run away from.
Pain that would send a ‘normal’ person to the ER becomes your daily baseline. Your definition of pain changes into something at once more tangible yet harder to explain. Pain becomes your constant companion, your nemesis and your whole reality. It just is.
Contrary to what most believe you become more careful about taking pain relief, not less, because of the constant concern that regular use means your body will build up a tolerance and at some point the meds you so desperately need will cease to function.
You wait until your pain becomes ‘really painful’ before reaching for your medication. You ration your own tablets so only on really bad days you actually take the maximum dose. You set yourself mini targets to get through before taking your meds, such as “I’ll just finish the shopping before I take the tablets” in spite of the fact that you’re in bloody agony.
I have run this past my GP, and she tells me to be kinder to myself, take the tablets, it’s what they’re there for! And part of me knows she’s right, yet still that fear of tolerance lingers, so I wait.
I am in the wonderful position though, thanks to our NHS, that I can simply ask my GP for a prescription for Tramadol and it’s written. I suppose if was I using too quickly or something there would be questions, but my GP knows me and knows that I need them. And for that I am indescribably grateful.
4 thoughts on “The Tramadol Question”
Love your insight into RA! I was diagnosed 5 years ago at the age of 31. You have captured the pain & agony we feel so well. Thanks for sharing! We are also in FB groups together which led me to your blog 🙂
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Thanks Kacy, I think the online support we share is so important
Yep, it’s true. In the US, we are often made to feel like drug seeking addicts because we ask for effective pain management. Government and medical professionals believe that long term use of narcotics will lead to addiction and will cause the person to start using illicit drugs such as heroin. Not even making this up. Supposedly, studies back up what our government thinks.
I am a nurse, and am currently studying for my undergrad degree, and am currently taking an addictions class. It’s been enlightening to see what the perspectives are regarding narcotic use. I truly believe, those who are close minded, have never experienced a chronic illness with chronic pain. BUT… I also feel that in the US, we tend to want a quick fix rather than trying other alternatives. If we want to lose weight, we take diet pills instead of exercising and eating better. If we want to deal with our depression, we take a pill rather than trying to talk to a counselor. If we want pain relief… same thing.
There is and always will be, a place for pharmaceuticals in our lives- including the diet pills, the antidepressants, the pain pills etc. But, we also have to be willing to try other things such as physical therapy, exercising, eating better, and putting more effort into our own health, instead of just reaching for that bottle.
Instant gratification isn’t always the answer.
And, I know many many who would disagree with me and take great offense to what I just typed. But, I’m okay with that. I used to be on the other side, I believed if I was in pain, then it needed to be treated by medications, and it needed to be treated now. I didn’t want to take the time to try other things that I just knew wouldn’t work. In a way, I still feel that way. But, a part of me is opening up to the other side of things- and can recognize that there is some real truth to it.
We need to seek a way to better balance the equation while allowing chronic pain patients to have pain relief…
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Beautifully put, balance is so important x