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Need Advice From Those That Have Been There

oberlin_patientooberlin_patient Posts: 58
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:03 AM in Pain Medications
Let me get right to my issue. In June and July of 2010, I had three back surgies in 33 days. 1. Repaired herniated disc; L5S1, 10 days later, the disc ruptured, which was surgery number 2 and another 9 days later, I had surgery number 3 to repair a hole in my spine left from the previous surgery. I want to include that I really like my surgeon because he has made a real effort to get me back up and going and being back to pain free. When I go see him, it is not just an office visit where he asks me a couple of questions, then gives me an Rx and sends me on my way. He takes his time with me and does a complete evaluation on each visit. For the longest time, I had pain beginning in my tailbone and sreading inro my butt cheeks and then partially down my leg to the hamstring area. He began a series of injections into my facet joints and now, for the most part, I have been pain free for several weeks and can probably say that I do not need my Vicodin or Percocet, BUT I DO. My body will not let me go without it no matter how much I try.If I see "how long" I can go without taking any medication, all kind of weird feelings go on in my body like; my limbs begin to feel fatigued, I have trouble resting, I become very, very irritable, I also become nervous and I don't want to be around anyone, etc. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my surgeon and I need to address these issues. I don't want him to think that I'm a junkie or an abuser (maybe I am), but at the same time, I don't want to leave without an Rx for some pain meds because I know that I will have a need for them. What do I do or how do I tell him that, "Hey, Doc, you've done a great job to get me back to where I am pretty much pain free and probably do not need meds, but my body does." As long as I don't do anything stupid, like heavy yard work or waxing my car, I feel good. Basically, like we've all heard, "As long as I DON'T over-do it, I am pain free and do not need pain meds, but I can't go without them."
Does anyone understand what I am trying to say? I need help from someone who has been in this position and can at least give me some idea how to address this with my surgeon tomorrow without coming off looking like a junkie or a jerk.
Any help is appreciated and I apolgize for the length of this post, but I am really needing some help.


  • I ran out of my Vicodin last month and was really feeling bad, emotionally and physically, because I did not have any meds on hand. I was on my way out the door to go to the ER, when a friend of mine called and told me that he had some 2-year old Vicodin left over from when he had his knee replaced. He offered them to me and that got me through the 5 days until my next visit with my surgeon, who then gave me a new Rx. I had gone about 30 hours without any drugs and I was feeling really excited and depressed at the same time, not to mention that my legs and arms were feeling tired and achy. Just an absolute horrible feeling. I don't want to relive that day.
  • Is it possible that you need to be detoxed from the meds? I hear you say you can pain free as long as you don't do something stupid? For the most part those of us on long term narcotic medication the goal is to never be pain free but to reduce the pain enough that we can function some what. It might be that a good strong muscle relaxer will get you over the hump. I am not saying your some addict, but there is a thing where your body requires the medications after so long. If you need more meds for pain then you just tell the surgeon so. There will come a point that the surgeon will want to move you from his care and into pain management if your going to need medications on a long term basis. Most surgeons aren't in the business of prescribing medications. There job is to do the surgery and get you past that point from a medical stand point, then release you to someone else if you still long term medications.

    My best advice to you is be open and honest with the surgeon about how you use the medications and what you need them for. Let him/her decide wether they should prescribe or if it is time to move you to a pain management doctor. If your using vicodin not very often it is not that your addicted from a mental stand point but rather your body is physically addicted to them. If they decide that you need to be moved to pain management they will more than likely give you a script to get you to the appointment with the pm doctor. Hopefully sense your having days being pain free you won't need them much longer. One thing you might try is a ten's unit. The other choice is they may want to move you to something less stronger. which will help with the bodies physical dependance on the medication. Good luck at your appointment and let us know how it works out.
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  • It is my body that is addicted to the pain meds. I could care less, but if I try to go "as long as I can" without taking anything, like I said earlier, my legs and arms begin to feel funky and I also feel generally horrible all over and I can't sleep. Does this make sense to you? I really don't know how else to describe it. I know that I really don't need a pain pill when I take one, but if I don't my body reminds me that I do. I am going to speak with my surgeon tomorrow, but it won't be easy. He may think that I have been lying to him all along about my tailbone and butt pain when in fact, I haven't. The cortisone shots that he has been giving me in the facet joints have improved my condition 90%. I agree with you, honesty is the best policy. I'll let you know how I make out.
  • From everything you have written...it sounds like you really don't need a narcotic prescription to handle your pain.

    What you are talking about are withdrawal symptoms...The irritability, restlessness, weird feelings...

    This is because you are going from taking dosages of the Vicodin and then stopping abruptly....

    I do have to say since you shared this information....that taking someone else's narcotic is a Felony...

    It is literally on the same scale as walking into a bank with a loaded gun and robbing them.

    It is a Felony for both you, and your friend. I'm not sure why people have thought that this is ok to do......

    And the ER is not a place to go to just because you run short of your narcotic. It is for life and death emergencies only.

    I'm not trying to be mean or a jerk here...I'm just letting you know that I think you do have a bit of an addiction problem here with the medication. The reason I say this is that you sought out illegal means after you took more medication than prescribed as you ran out early. This is not something that regular pain patients would ever do.

    I would be up front with your Dr. at this point that you don't need full time narcotic care and as Tamtam mentioned....maybe have a prescription for a muscle relaxer to take whenever you have a bad day.

    I would tell them that you have tried to stop but having the withdrawals so want to be able to wean down comfortably.

    jAgain...not trying to berate you...I think you are brave for sharing your real story. I just think that you need to handle this now with your Dr. before it gets out of hand.

    As mentioned...there are also many other non medicinal ways to handle a bit of pain.

    TENS unit
    Aqua therapy
    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy...

    Just to name some things that many of us do every day/week/month....

    I really do hope that you will be honest with your Dr. so that you can wean down properly...

    I do wish you well...
  • Yes, I have already made up my mind to confront this issue with my doctor head on. I don't know what the answer is, but I am sure that I am not the first person to have walked this path. I want off of this junk. I think that I will sleep, eat and feel better all around.
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  • Almost all doctors are well aware that after some time on opiates and other types of meds, that a person will become dependent upon them. Your body will let you know that you didn't remember to take your normal dose today...and then if you still don't take it fast enough, withdrawals will start- muscle spasms and cramps, upset stomach, some people call it having the creepy crawlies, yawning, eyes tearing, etc...the good news is that it will subside within a few days to a week, but you can also talk to your doctor and simply explain that you have been on pain medications for some time now, and are getting a lot of benefit out of the injections and surgeries he did, so you would like to talk about slowly reducing the amount that you are taking regularly and only have to use it on a prn basis instead. He can and should be able to provide you with a tapering plan (reducing your total intake daily by a certain amount) that will minimize withdrawal symptoms, and still allow you to slowly stop taking the opiate.
    Good luck and as someone else mentioned, getting narcotics from anyone else, is a crime and can put both you and the supplier in jail, not to mention that it is completely unsafe to take medications that are past their expiration date.
  • Well what happened? Do you have an update?
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
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