Narcotics: The Digestive Nightmare

1 02 2012

At some point, the pain that prompts you to ask loved ones to kill you will drive you to seek hardcore pain solutions. Rather, your loved ones will recoil in horror after you explain your carefully worded plan to make it look like an accident, then demand you seek additional pain control methods.

One of the methods I was not expecting my GP to recommend was Vicodin. I had been given Vicdoin before, for a ruptured ovarian cyst that was so damned bad it was initially believed to be appendicitis. During my first foray into narcotic pain amelioration, I discovered Teletubbies & Pokemon & never looked back. It was at that point that I decided I hated Vicodin (aka hydrocodone, aka “the pill that gives me The Stupid”).

Keep in mind my GP did not “believe in” fibromyalgia, like chronic conditions are akin to Santa or faeries. She had ordered a series of x-rays & discovered that I have degenerative discs & some arthritis in my hip (at the tender age of 29, I was), so she said “Imma give you Vicodin.”

“NO!” I protested. I made a drowned kitten face. She laughed. “Fill the rx. Take it if you need it. It’s like 5 bucks. You’ll thank me later.”

She gave me the lowest dose possible. One day, while writhing in pain on the couch & crying, I decided to take one. I promptly projectile vomited all down my carpeted hallway, which is a pleasure to clean up when your back feels like small tractor trailers have been ramming into it all day.

It was then that I read the side effects.

You will need and want your narcotics, & that’s ok. But you will need to learn to take them so that you don’t make yourself miserable in the process. I’ve found it is horrific to take hydrocodone at night, as night terrors are a common side effect. I used to keep foster kittens for the SPCA, & the first night I had Vicodin, I dreamt I found them all chopped up around my house. That was heinous. So I know not to do that again.

As for the projectile vomiting, I knew I had to break em in half. Any time a health care provider tells me to take a whole one, I nod, then go home & break them in half (or even fourths). Drink a ton of water.

You’ll need the hydration because of the monster constipation. The last thing you want after fibroflare is to then pass what feels like a granite cantaloupe through your anus. You may want to take a stool softener every day you are on narcotic treatment.

So then there’s the “Do I really need narcotics?” question. Or rather, your acquaintances who don’t know what it’s like to feel like you’ve been beaten to a pulp will ask “OhMiGod, you take narcotics? For fibro? Isn’t that, like, addictive?”

Like booze & French silk cake, you can become addicted to narcotics. Studies do show (Google it) that people with true chronic pain don’t actually feel the euphoria that Norms get when they abuse narcotics, however. For people with fibro, the purpose of narcotics isn’t so much to relieve pain as to make you not care about the pain, causing your muscles to finally RELAX. They cannot come out of flare without relaxing, which is why your doctor has probably also given you a muscle relaxant. Narcotics have dissociative properties, which is why some folks who have crappy lives & want to forget become addicted.

People with severe fibro are sometimes habituated on narcotics, which is not the same as addiction. It’s an essential low level functioning for folks who are so sensitized to pain that they can no longer work or operate a vehicle.

And that’s another important part of narcotics use. Do not screw up your life further by driving or making huge life decisions on narcotic pain meds. You could be charged with DUI, hit someone, kill yourself or kill others. If you need narcotics, you’re in flare & shouldn’t be driving, anyhow. Also do not shop online, pay bills, or answer the phone on narcotics unless it’s your friend who loves how very honest and funny you are on drugs. And that friend can keep it to themselves.

What if your doctor is a paranoid psychotic who barely prescribes narcotics to people with concomitant fractures? We all know those. This leads to the phenomenon of “narcohoarding” in which fibropeeps become experts. Dental work? Pah, the pain of a root canal is nothing compared to flare, so we save our meds for when we really need em.

I’ve done it, too, inadvertently. Thanks to super tightness in my calf (yay fibro!), I tore my right ankle in my sleep July 5, 2006. I remember the date vividly because I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such blinding white hot pain in my life. It was ridiculous. I stood to get out of bed, fell immediately, & couldn’t put weight on my right foot at all.

Four doctors couldn’t agree on what had happened to me. I was asymptomatic when I first presented at the ER. My bloodwork was weird, showing the kind of platelet activity for someone with a severe injury, but I didn’t (yet) have swelling. They did a lower extremity venous scan in case of DVT, & that came up clear. Then they gave me five OxyContin & sent me home. No crutches (that would come a month later), just drugs.

That first day, I freakin’ needed it. I broke one in half & elevated the leg & prayed for death. Eventually, I wanted to watch my Pokemon tapes. The next day, I went back to naproxen sodium.

“Why aren’t you taking your Oxy?” my sig oth at the time asked me.

“Eh, it’s better today. I’d rather save the Oxy for flare.”

He blinked. One of the surgeons I worked for & my neurologist had since decided I tore a ligament. They explained to my sig oth how painful that is. He said, “Do you mean to tell me that flare hurts worse than that?”

I looked at him like he just asked if water was wet. “Well, yeah.”

He wasn’t sure what to do with me after that. What’s fun is my ankle started popping out regularly for years after. I’m not sure how to describe it…whatever doodads hold in your bones in the front of your ankle fail, & there’s this bulge with crepitus. It hurts, & it makes walking not work. After my ex saw that with his own eyes, he figured flare must truly suck.

Which, as you know, it does.

Some docs also like to give out phenergran with hydrocodone syrup when you have bronchitis. I have hoarded that, too. Syrup seems to have less side effects than pills. Sometimes I’d have a teaspoon with flare.

Narcotics of course are a last resort, but don’t torment yourself. If you’re crawling to the bathroom on your stomach, you’ve waited too long. Narcotics can mean the difference between being in flare for a day & being in flare for a week. You will need them less as you recover your health. But if you need em, use em. Don’t torture yourself.