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The Other Side of the Opioid Crisis

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I have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and I honestly feel like I am at war with my own body, and I never know what will happen from one moment to the next. There is so much going around about the “opioid crisis” and how such and such drug is being over prescribed, that they are forgetting about those of us who use them to try and live a normal life.

Am I proud that I have to take them? No. Even some medical professionals look on us chronic pain patients like we are just making it all up to “get high.”

Have I tried going without and using alternative therapies? Oh God yes! I have been through pain clinic after pain clinic, seen so many people that I honestly can’t recall them all.

Have you ever stuck your arm in a hot deep fat fryer? No? How about had some hot fat spit out of the pan and onto your skin? Imagine that, but from finger tip to shoulder. Then imagine that painful cold when you have had your hand in a freezer too long, a cold burning. The pain can switch from one to the other, and oh it does! One or the other, most people can deal with easily, but what would you do if it never eased? If it was just one type of pain to the other?

My nerves never rest. Since it started, I haven’t had a minute of peace, a time when I do not feel the pain.

I lie about how much pain I feel, I down play it. Like others we get looked at funny if we rate our pain an eight out of 10, or higher. Often told that if it was that we would be almost non-functional, that we should be physically sick with pain. I don’t want peoples pity, and I rarely ask for help. The painkillers I am on knock my pain down to maybe a seven, where as I very often start my day at a nine.

I could go without my painkillers (I have tried), and am one of the lucky few to only get a slight amount of withdrawal symptoms, if any at all. But the pain!…Oh, the pain! The burning, the stabbing, twisting pain. I honestly wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and I mean anyone.

The day that they tell me that I can not have any pain medication, would probably be the last day of my life; I can imagine so many other people would be the same. When even the air brushing against your arm can cause a pain sharp enough to make your heart jump, you know it is too much.

To those of you who know me: You see me with a smile, but what you don’t see is how much this pain is destroying me inside. I joke and go out of my way to make someone else smile, to try and make their day a little better, then maybe, just maybe my pain is worth it.

I am struggling a lot more lately. The pain has started traveling from the fingers of my right hand, all down the arm to the shoulder, and down the right side of my back. It is in my neck, my left hand and wrist. My fingers lock, my muscles and joints don’t work properly. Every day is a repeat of the pain.

There are those of us, classed as “chronic pain patients,” who actually do need these painkillers and other medications. For people like me, we need them to just get out of bed – hell, to even think of getting out of bed! Doing the simple things take so much out of us.

I often get told “I don’t know how you manage.” I have no other option. I either wither away and die, or put my mask on. Not a great choice, but it is all I have.

You take away my painkillers, you take away my life.

Getty Image by fizkes

Originally published: March 14, 2018
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