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I am now in pain management and want to tell my parents without being judged

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Chronic Pain
I am 29 years old and after dealing with Spinal Stenosis, 5 budging discs, degenerative disc disease and arthritis. I felt uneasy about the thought of going to pain management. After seeing my PCP and the limits of what she could do for me, I put it off for 3 months and finally made an appointment for a pain management specialist. The doctor prescribed me lortab and zanaflex. They work. I am able to stand for long periods of time and feel 50% better. They do not totally take the pain away, but make it manageable.

Here comes my conundrum. My parents are both in the medical field. My mother was a nurse for about 30 years. They were worried a few months ago when I mentioned going to a pain management doctor. They do not want me to get addicted. They are that good of parents that they worry. I love that. We are close and I live about 1 mile from them. I talk to them about everyday and spend time with them.

I saw a pain management doctor last month for the first time. My dad has shingles and back problems. My g/f mother has herniated disc and the rest of what I have and so does her moms b/f. I told them and they did not seem even a bit concerned. Just have not told my parents.

I have been keeping this a secret from them for a few weeks. I so badly want to tell them, but I am afraid of their reaction and do not want them to think badly of me or judge me. I am a recent college graduate and have an IT job. They are so proud of me for the changes I have made in life since I was always going in circles with my life in the past.

I also have Bi-Polar and Anxiety and have had ADHD and more diagnosis in the past. I have been on many many psych meds since I was 6. They know I was on Klonopin for about 8 years since I was 20 and they where not a bit concerned. The combination of that and Lithium was not helping anymore. They were worried at first when I told them my doctor tried me on Xanax and Lamictal and my mom was just extremely worried.

Now that my life has turned for the better since then and I finished school (dropped out in 2004) my dad brags about me and my parents even wrote a note to my psychiatrist telling them how thankful they were she found a combination of drugs that really helped.

How should I approach my parents about this while not feeling uneasy and anxious and expecting the worst??


  • Welcome to the forum. There is a lot of good information here, and the people are very supportive.

    What do you think your parents are most concerned about? Do you think they are afraid of you becoming addicted to the pain medication? Have you had problems with drugs in the past? Is the medication going to be taken long term? Has the pain management doctor or PCP mentioned being evaluated by a neurosurgeon, or have any other treatments been offered?

    You are really the only one who knows and understands what your parents are feeling. Most parents continue to worry about their children long after they have grown Most parents only want what is best for children. I am sure this is the case with your parents.

    If you believe that you are are doing the right thing by seeing a pain management doctor, and if you and your doctor feel that this is the best option for you at this time, then your parents should understand your decision.

    Good luck!
  • Tell them today and end the secrets. Keeping secrets is more harmful than what we are afraid of telling someone.

    I would go to see them and tell them about your new doctor. Let them ask questions and be honest with your answers. It's wonderful that you have two such loving parents with medical experience to watch out for you.

    If for some reason they seem concerned you might want to invite them to go with you to your next appointment. Also I am assuming that your psychologist knows about the PM and what you are taking so that gives you another layer of protection against medication abuse.
  • Are there extenuating circumstances surrounding your decisions. For instance, I quit taking any type of pain medication nine years ago because my mother had an aversion to them, and saw all people who took pain medication in the same light. Even though I live(d) in a different state than she did, I did not take any pain medication for five years because of her feelings. She lost two sons to drug overdose and would have worried sick about me, and I found lying to her repulsive. Finally in 2007 my Dr began treating my pain again after those five yrs of having gone without treatment (in that area). I never told my mother that I was taking pain medication because I knew how she felt on that subject, and it was a little difficult for me as we were close. I know that I made the right decision(s) (for me), but I understand some people that we are so close to and love so much have their own reasons for the way that they think and cannot see beyond that. My mother would rather see me suffer (and she knew my pain) than see me take pain medications because of the way they affected *her* life, and I understand that, which is why I kept silent about that part of my treatment.

    There are usually reasons why people feel the way that they do surrounding the subject of PM, but your parents are educated, so if you are in need of PM and they surely know your pain, they will probably understand. But..it is true what the previous poster said (outofcontrol), that parents want what is best for their children and believe me..we never stop worrying. I weighed the risks vs. benefits and chose not to tell my mother. She has passed since then and she never had to know. I can live with that, but you have to decide what is best for you. I wish you the best.
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many whom also suffer with lumbar issues. AS far as the pain management, keep in mind pain management is not just medicine. If you found the right doctor more on the lines of a physiatrist they will use a combination approach to help you. Actually the medicine should be a very a small part but all the other disciplines should be focused on. I am not sure of the severity of your spine issues, but if your avoiding a surgery, hopefully they will work from a multiple discipline approach.

    AS far as telling your parents, it seems to be adding stress to your life. The one thing I can tell you is stress will not help in your recovery. I love to use this line, when you tell a lie the only person your lying to is yourself. Not that I am saying your telling a lye by any means, but sometimes leaving information out is about the same thing. Also if the doctor puts you on some medication and your parents knowing your medical background it is best for them to know. But you need to be up front and honest with yourself as to why your not telling your parents. It sounds as though you finally have your Dad's approval and your afraid of loosing it? If I was in your shoes I would sit down with your parents and have a straight talk with them explaining why you need this and how you have felt for however long, and why you can't continue on the path you were. Being your mother is a nurse she might be able to help you with understanding some of the medications and help you explore all your options. But give them the chance as it sounds like they have always been there for you and I am sure they will always be there for you.

    Once again welcome to spine-health. Let us know how it goes with your parents and how you do in pain management.
  • I don't know how the medical system works in America, but do you have to divulge your previous history to your PCP? If so, in the circumstances I'm sure they will keep a special eye on you. To be honest, I think they would monitor your medication at regular intervals anyway as it would be part of their regular regime for every patient they see.

    Like Kris-NY says, [if it were me] I would also be inclined to discuss it with your parents and if they have concerns after that, then it's a great idea to invite them to your next appointment (if your PCP will agree to this).

    You are dealing with many back issues at such a young age. I think it's brilliant that you're being pro-active in trying to find ways to help yourself manage the pain. You've taken control and so far the pain meds have been effective, which is wonderful news!

    Of course, we don't know how your parents will react, we can only give you our point of view, but it's clear they only want what's best for you and are proud of what you have achieved, so please do not be worried about chatting to them. Just be yourself, open and honest and let them know just exactly how your back pain has been affecting you for so long. I'm sure they will understand your situation and fully support you.

    Will you let us know how you get on please?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • I am so sorry to hear someone your age has these types of issues. Pretty much what I deal with but I have some years on you for sure. My personal opinion (and take it for what it’s worth) because my parents don’t care for me, nor do I care for them – is.. Just tell them and at least you won’t feel guilty or badly; it sounds like you do. Explain to them that you can’t take the pain and that is just the way it is for you now. We don’t bargain for this, we don’t ask for it – it happens and it happens to more people than you can imagine. We all become somewhat addicted/dependent to the drugs, but that is just part of the gig. There is nothing we can do about that either. I think the best you can do is tell your folks that you need to have your pain manageable and that you are well aware of the consequences of overtaking the medication, etc., and intend to stick with the “safe” regimen that your doctor has prescribed. Make sure they know that the doctor you are seeing for pain management is also a professional in their medical field of expertise. Your parents sound very nice and supportive. It is nice you have someone that loves you so much – it is as it should be. I think it will turn out fine once you alleviate some of their concerns. Good luck to you on all accounts - Marion
  • I will definitely talk to them soon. When I was younger I was big into smoking weed. As I got older I gave up on the pot. It was starting to make me retarded. I was using for my anxiety then it turned to an everyday deal. My parents know this. And years ago I would take a pain pill here and there as recreation. I do not want to tell my Dr's this because I do not want my past mistakes to keep me from my help. I do not take the 4 a day I am prescribed. When I wake up I take 1. Then usually 1 - 2 more during the day as needed. The rain sets off my aches. Every morning about 2-3 hours before I am supposed to wake up, my hips hurt. The doctor said it is piriformis and it aches real bad.

    I just got off unemployment. I was in the back to school program. I have medicaid but my spend down is almost $830 a month. I cannot afford surgery nor do I want it. I cannot afford the shots right now. That is for sure. I was told about this chiropractor not to far from me that my PM Doc said was good. He charges $20 a visit. I really would like to try that out.

    Again, I do not want to abuse my medicine as I know that would raise my tolerance and keep the medicine from helping when I need it. I have an old friend that I do not talk to very much anymore and he goes to the Methadone Clinic. He was big into them. Also I witnessed an old roommate go through withdrawals. He would take about 10 percecet 10's and then buy Suboxone. I always heard "this is my last time" way to many times to count. I have seen it ruin peoples lives. I have gotten a lot more responsible in my life and I appreciate the help my Doc's have given me. My life had not been an easy one. I was even on Ritalin from age 6 - 13 and over 40 other meds for psych problems. Even was in a psych hospital at age 13 for almost a year to be put through many trials of medicines and therapy.

    I will talk to them when the time is right. My Aunt whom I have not spoke to in over 10 years was hooked on them. My uncle is a Dr. and she would steal his RX pad. My parents' friends' son just died of a Xanax overdose. I do not want them to worry about me. My parents are conservative and think "Take some IBprofen and deal with it". I do not like pain and have a low tolerance. I want to be able to loose weight and get back in shape and not have to go on disability. I just graduated with an AAS degree in IT and it is my passion and I want to run with it and see where I can get in life.

    Thanks for all your concerns and advice.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. It sounds like you've found a great place to hang out and talk to others who understand how you feel.

    First, I want to say that you sound like a very intelligent young man, your spelling is good and your speech is very intelligent. I admire your dedication to your family and love hearing about how close you are to your parents. It's always wonderful to hear that someone has turned their life around from bad to good and take pride in that. Congratulations.

    I tend to have a different view, but maybe it's because I'm not a parent. I tend to lean on the side that a 29-year-old man that's living on his own doesn't need the stress nor the approval of his parents to do what is NEEDED, and I just can't stop feeling like "what you don't know won't hurt you." As long as you're responsible, they're proud of you, and your relationship is strong, what you need to do outside of your life with them is your own.

    I know it's different, but I don't talk about my meds to anyone - but I will if my family (or closest friends) asks. And that brings me to the lying part of your conundrum - in my world, I simply wouldn't bring it up unless they did, then I'd have the big talk.

    Sometimes the things left unsaid are the most beneficial for those involved, not everything has to be worn on the sleeve. There's the public you and the private you, and only you can decide which category this falls in. I'm simply adding my 2 cents if I were in your place.

    I wish you good luck in the future, and am very happy to hear that PM is working for you. There are too many spineys that have yet to find their right blend. Sounds like you've found yours, and it's a blessing to be able to make it around this world in less pain and still function well, as you, I and many others here have had the luck to find.

    Take care and yes, please keep us updated.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    are in the medical field, they should be able to understand the situation you are in.

    They probably realize that you need to get into a pain management program to control your pain, but at the same time worried because if abused, pain medications can lead to problems.

    I've always believed in open communications. That is the only way both sides can hear exactly what the other is saying, and it has to be done without any pre-judging.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It has been important for me to have someone in my family to know that I am taking medications for pain. These medications are not benign, and for safety's sake, everyone taking them needs a significant person knowing the facts about them. I haven't gone into great detail because I do not want to scare them, but they have been there for me after my procedures and surgeries.

    If you do decide to have the discussion with your parents, they need to understand that there is a difference between medically-necessary medications and drug abuse/addiction. Just because they are in the medical profession doesn't mean they have knowledge of pain management, and in fact, unless they have worked in the PM arena, they will need specific educating so that they can provide you with the support you need.

    Help them to know that you have a healthy respect for these drugs, and what your intentions are by taking them.

  • I believe in open communication and total honesty, also that things do need to be discussed without one or the other judging or having a preconcieved idea about the topic. The problem is, not all folks think the same way as I do (or you), and oftentimes people do judge based on their own capacity to understand a situation. So in a perfect world I (of course) would say yes, talk about it, but everyone is different and so is the family dynamic. At the end of the day, you have to do what's right for you!!
  • I have yet to have "the talk" with my parents. Again when I was younger I abused Marijuana and took medicine I didn't need just to experiment. I was never really a "pill-head" so to speak. I was really nervous about seeing the PM Doctor. I had never even been in the office of a PM. I was scared and nervous. The doctor was really nice and kind. I am being very cautious with my medicine. I do not want to be addicted or over do it and take a bunch at one time like some acquaintances in my past have. I have seen to many lives ruined and that only revolve around pain medicine.

    I never knew what the root cause of my back pain was till last November. Whenever I go shopping with my girlfriend, about 10-15 minutes of walking around, by back would ache. It would start in my lower back/buttocks area. It would spasm and ache really bad. For instance if I was in Walmart I would have to stop in the shoe section just to sit on the benches. I would find myself stretching trying to pop my back and even leaning over towards the ground to take the pressure off. I dealt with it and it really bothered me. I would even get short and moody with my girlfriend simply because I wanted to get out of the store. Then when I sit in the car afterwords, about every 6-7 seconds I would have a tremor/spasm go off on my lower back.

    When the unemployment was "up in the air" last summer I notified Medicaid. My spend down went to $0 so I thought I would go ahead and get new glasses, dentist work and find out about my back. At first my PCP thought it was just mild spasms and nothing to worry about. I was shocked to see the MRI results. When my mother and I sat down and read over the results, I was mortified. I had always been in shape in the past, always active and never hurt.

    But now I am feeling better emotionally and physically. Emotionally because I know what is going on and that takes the burden off my back *no pun intended*, and physically because I have some sort of relief.

  • Hi there :)

    Just the fact that you desire Openness and Honesty with your family is a big indicator that you are not likely abusing your medication.

    I suggest that since your folks are in medical fields that you relate to them in medical terms. Take them some information from your PM doc about the difference between physical dependence and abuse. It is shocking how often the two terms are used interchangeably, even amongst physicians. The hard fact is that most doctors do not receive adequate pain management training, and many are afraid of strong meds because of the attention paid to those who abuse vs. Those who take their meds and live their lives out quietly...

    I suggest the American Pain Foundation as a good starting place, to keep both them and yourself informed. http://www.painfoundation.org/

    Another good factual resource aimed at presenting balanced information about pain and treatments is Pain Topics http://pain-topics.org/ and their update site http://updates.pain-topics.org/

    Go and print off medical studies, information, factoids, etc, so that when you sit down to have this conversation you are armed with knowledge, and that will show them that you take your treatment seriously, as you should.

    And remember, a pain patient takes his/her MEDICATION to live fruitful lives. An addict takes DRUGS to escape life.

    Good luck to you on this journey. Remember that your parents love you, and have your best at heat, but that doesn't automatically mean they are omniscient when it comes to what is best for your health care.

    My husband and mother both know what I am taking, but other than that, for safety reasons, others might know I am on medication for my pain, but they do not know the particulars.
  • I had a talk with my parents yesterday. And at an ironic time. I was on my way to work driving on an Interstate when there was traffic slowing down and stopping. I come to a complete stop when a lady in a blue car behind me rear ends me and shoves my car 6 feet into the back of a SUV..
    Can a guy get a break?? :(

    Now my back is aching all day long where it was just off and on. I am going to go to doctor this week to get checked out. I was going to go to the Urgent Care or ER today but was advised since the pain is in the same area as my previous medical problems, that there would be a possibility of being denied and the costs of the visit coming back on me. I only have medicaid so I am going to go see a normal doc this week.

    This was my first week out of training and on the phones on Help Desk/IT.. Really makes me angry. And since the weather changed dramatically (78 degrees 4 days ago, snowing now) my back is aching even more. I had to miss work yesterday cause of the wreck and took today off to recoup and relax.

    However. I was nervous telling my parents about my going to a pain management doctor. Mom was worried at first but I explained my purpose and my responsibilities and she has accepted it. Thanks to everyone on these posts helping to ease my mind.

    Keep me in your prayers, as I am still aching and my pain meds are not helping as much as they did before yesterday when the accident occurred.
  • I'm so glad that your mom is understanding of you seeing the pm. I'm so sorry to hear about your accident!! I got rear-ended the 2nd day back to work after surgery. It was a nothing little bump, but sent my neck into spasms from hell, so I can just imagine what your back feels like after being pushed that far!! I really hope that you're okay, and that insurance doesn't try to say that your injuries were just from before. Heal quickly, hope the doc can help you out!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • The hospital won't deny you because you have medicaid. Anytime you are injured in an accident a Drs office/ER visit would be approved, and medicaid.. they don't really care if it was a pre-existing condition. Even so, in most states the person who rear-ends you would be at fault, so if medicaid wanted to they could get cash from that persons insurance by suing their insurance company. In any event, I would not be overly concerned about the cost at this point. Often it's when your adrenaline calms down that the real pain sets in.

    I'm glad that you talked to your parents. In my earlier post/comment, I was trying my very best to remain objective, without trying to influence your decision one way or another, but to tell one persons perspective and reasons for a choice. It was only my way passing on a scenario that decided my choice, and because I know that life offers up many different reasons that we come to some of the decisions that we do. Inside though, I was hoping that you would be able to open up to your parents-regardless of age or anything else, because family is so very important and can be a great support to us in every area. Leaving out the PM area of ourselves doesn't feel that great.. so good for you !!
  • I am very happy you have informed your parents of you seeing a PM. I am not to big on hiding things. I do have a few people in my life whom know all the meds I am on. While we don't sit around and chit chat about it, I do keep a log they know where it is, in the event someone ever needed to know for medical reasons what I am taking.

    AS far as the accident, well some times stuff happens, but bites when you already have pain issues. What about calling your pm doctor and explaining what happened with being rear ended and it is possible they might want you to come in for a appointment to check you out. Hopefully the pain is easing up, some. But I would give your pm doctor a call and let them know what is up. Not sure if you have a contract with your pm's office, but if you do, going to the ER and them administering you any meds could be a violation of the contract. Not that you have done anything wrong, but if it ever involves meds from another source you need to make sure they are completely aware. I seen to many members fall into that category not realizing they were doing anything wrong, so better to be safe and have no issues, sense it seems to be helping you so much. Keep us posted on how your doing.
  • I was sore for a couple of days but the pain is getting a lot better. I did sign a contract with the PM Dr. I knew if I went to ER or Urgent Care that I would tell Dr. and Nurses up front that I am seeing a PM doctor and I am not allowed to accept any pain meds from them. I will call my PM doctor tomorrow or Tuesday (my day off work) and let her know what happened. I met a guy in the PM office and he gave me the phone # of a chiropractor not to far from the office. I asked my PM Dr. and she said that it would not hurt to try just to make sure to take him a copy of my MRI so he knows which area is affected and how to treat it.

    As I write now and think about the accident and how me and my g/f are down to one car and it is on the brinks, my back is aching. Stress always does that. :(

    I will be okay. Thank you all for the advice and just replying to my comments. It helps to have a support group going on.
  • Oh yes, geeze I forgot to add that anytime you go to another Dr.or ER, be sure to inform them that you are in PM, and don't ever get any RX's filled (or even accept) from another Dr. I just assumed that you would know that (and you do ; ), so I didn't put it in my comment, but I really should not assume because the next person may not know this. I always remember the first time I went to PM and how adamant my Dr was when he explained the rules of the contract, and I assume that all PMDrs explain the same way.. but they don't from what I have heard.

    Stress can cause more pain for sure. Learning new ways to deal with stress is important now, because those folks who tell you to get the stress out of your life are obviously not too bright in the ways of the world, or don't understand that stress is a part of life. How we deal with it is important. Good luck to you, I'm glad you are on the mend, and try not to worry too awful much about the car.
  • Thanks for posting. Do you have any other resources on ac service Phoenix? I'm always looking for new things.
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