My Battle With Oxycontin
Author’s note. This is the first time I have written a blog and posted it on both of my blogsites. I did so because this topic is like an iceberg, most of the scope of the problem lies hidden under fathoms of lies, deception and incredible suffering by patients, families and friends. For more information on addiction generally log in to my favorite treatment center in Minnesota, www.hazelden.org
When writing blogs I always make an attempt to personalize them often I cannot. For example, I have written three blogs on how drugs and alcohol may have a negative effect on human organs. I wrote them because I am a recovering alcoholic (July 17, 1982) and may have ruined my heart due to extremely heavy drinking (up to two quarts of vodka a day). This destructive behavior may have led to the dilated cardiomyopathy I suffered and the subsequent heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida on August 21, 2007.
Today’s blog will in some way I hope, help others who are substance abusers or are concerned about family members and/or friends who may be. This missive will only address abuse of prescription medication but let me be perfectly clear. I am not opposed to drug use made necessary by a medical condition or to social drinking. My purpose is to offer some information that might help people know when they have crossed the line from “need” to “want,” admit it to someone else and seek and accept help.
Just a bit of background. When the medical team positions a patient on the table for a transplant, they place your left arm above you and at an awkward and unnatural angle. Many patients suffer some post operative, but temporary discomfort (that’s what the docs call it, I call it screaming pain).
So here’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Since my transplant, I’ve experienced “discomfort” in my left arm, pneumonia in both lungs, torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders and carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. After trying several different painkillers, only Oxycontin offered me some relief. I knew when Oxycontin was prescribed for the intense pain I was suffering that I was at risk, but all other pain relievers had failed and, believe me, the pain was almost unbearable. There were times when it was so bad I screamed and cried and even then, I fought the urge to take yet another Oxycontin. In the end, though, the Oxycontin won. While the pain had ended, the physical need only got stronger. I knew almost immediately that I had become dependant on Oxycontin. As Roseanne, Roseanna Danna used to say on Saturday night live, “It’s always something.”
I’ve experienced “cold turkey detox” several times in the past and while not as wild as Frank Sinatra’s scene in “The Man With The Golden Arm” It is not far off the mark. Nausea, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, heavy perspiration, hallucinations well, the list of symptoms is quite long. I was not looking forward to doing it again but I knew I had to get “off the Oxycontin.”
I did some on-line research and called some friends for advice and recommendations. Many of them gave me the same name – a clinic in Jacksonville, Florida that specialized in pain medicine, detox and related issues. I saw a Doctor there Thursday, and began my Suboxone outpatient treatment yesterday. As of this moment, I am at over 48 hours Oxycontin free, feeling very good and show none of the symptoms of detox I had experienced so many times in the past. I am well aware that Suboxone can create problems as well as solve some, but with the help of my AA and NA friends the physicians at my clinic and my wonderful wife Robin, I will recover from this as I did from Alcohol. You see if I don’t recover from it, I will most certainly die from it and there is no greater disrespect I can show my donor family than to let Oxycontin run, ruin and end my life.
So if you are hooked on prescription painkillers you must do three things, 1) admit that the substance has taken control of your life, 2) Tell someone close to you about your “problem.” and 3) seek and find help, accept it and follow the program. For information on 12 step programs see http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.com/ or http://www.na.org/index.htm.
Most family physicians are not qualified or licensed to prescribe some of the drugs (like Suboxone) that can help you. Only a specialist can truly offer the right kind of help and monitoring. They are not easy to find. Some may want you to go through treatment; others will help you on an outpatient basis. That decision can only be made by you and your doctor.
The Clinic I use is: NEXSTEP INTEGRATED PAIN CARE, INC. 904-288-8311, their website address is http://www.nexsteppain.com/ they might be of direct help if you are in or near Jacksonville. If you are in a more distant city, they might be able to direct you to experts in your area. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been compensated, nor will I be compensated by NEXSTEP or anyone else. My blogs are for public usage and not copyright protected and I accept no compensation or consideration of any kind for any of the blogs I write.
This has not been an easy trip but it certainly has opened my eyes once again as to my character flaws and strengths. Thank you to my friends, family and my wonderful wife Robin for your unfaltering support. And — readers, if you are so inclined put in a word for me when you talk to “him.”
Please read and comment on my World Wide Issues blogs on http://blogsbybob.wordpress.com. Also…visit my Facebook site, Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You at http://tinyurl.com/225cfh OR — my Facebook home page http://www.facebook.com/home.php