Friday, April 3, 2009

Morphine Sweet Morphine

mmmmm. Morphine. My pain management doctor has put me back on the stuff. I have to admit that there is something so surreal about it. I've always equated morphine with icky things, like hospice care or open heart surgery. As much as I wax poetic about painkillers, I've always felt strange about morphine. So today when my doctor suggested I try it again to help get my nerve pain under control, I was reluctant. She assured me it was a low-dose and then she said, "It's much better to go on the continuous morphine then to increase your percocet. The Tylenol in the percocet is what you need to be careful about. Opiates are not as harmful to the body."

Who would have known? I mean, I feel like people are always talking about the dangers of drugs, and particularly opiates. Isn't it insane to think that Tylenol is actually more dangerous? And yet, I can purchase Tylenol over the counter along with a soda and a pack of gum. We live in a weird society.

I was talking with my mom a while ago about pharmaceuticals. Her and I both have problems with severe anxiety. And her and I both have difficulty getting adequate treatment for that anxiety. After my sister passed away, obviously, my mom was having a really hard time dealing with that loss. She asked her doctor for some Xanax and he acted like she was some drug-seeking fiend. My mom was grieving the death of her daughter and that asshole decided to make her feel like shit for asking for some relief. He offered some bullshit anti-depressant instead, which, of course, didn't do anything to help her. That's what my primary doctor has always offered to me for my severe anxiety and panic attacks in the past, some bullshit anti-depressant. I'd be like, "I'm not depressed. I'm anxious." And he'd say, "Well try this anyway." And then I'd try it and I'd end up eating like a fucking pig, gain weight, and then become depressed. So the anti-depressants always made me feel depressed and I'd still be anxious and unable to sleep at night with uncalled for fears swirling in my brain. Why are doctors so afraid to give people real relief from their problems? Sometimes I think the fear of addiction has caused doctors to not prescribe medications when they are very desperately needed.

And can somebody please tell me what the difference is between needing to take a Xanax every day to control your anxiety and needing to take a Zoloft every day to control your depression? My point is that the former is usually considered an "addiction" and the latter is usually considerd a "treatment of a psychological disorder". Why is one thing slapped with a bad label and the other not? I really don't get the difference at all.

Anyway, I'm very lucky to have found an amazing doctor who takes my physical pain seriously and gives me the medications I need to live a full and productive life. My nerve pain from the mastectomy has been excruciating lately, seriously kicking my ass. And to be honest, I can't help but think it is somehow related to, you guessed it, my anxiety. I've been fretting about this ovarian cyst for weeks now and I have to wait four more weeks for any definitive resolution on the cancer question. (My CA-125 levels were very low, which is pointing in a non-malignant direction. Thank God.) Anyway, maybe if I got on some Xanax I wouldn't be so tense and bitchy all of the time and my body wouldn't react by stabbing me incessantly in the chest. Wouldn't that be lovely?

And now my Morphine is tiring me the fuck out. Have sweet dreams, lads and ladies. You know I will.


  1. When I was going through chemo, my doctors gave me pretty much whatever I aseked for...and that was mainly ativan for anxiety. Guess what? I didn't become an addict. I got better and didn't need it anymore.

  2. Amen, Here in Franklin. Truth be told, we risk all kinds of side effects when we take medications. I suppose "addiction" could be a side effect. But that is a treatable condition, and doesn't warrant refusal to treat pain or anxiety, in my opinion.

  3. As someone who appreciates opiates, I think I should be able to get morphine at the drugstore, fuck that, I should be able to get it at McDonald's.

    Ok, I'm kidding about that level of availability but I agree with you on the fear of addiction keeping docs from subscribing. With the insurance I have, I don't see the same doc all the time. I have been prescribed Vicodin for severe migraines(prescribed) and occasional back pain(not prescribed) and though I take them regularly, I am still asking for a scrip like 4-5 times a year. Though I see diff drs, it's all the same center and my rx history is in front of all of them. I always feel like a criminal when I have to justify another prescription. I'm already on wellbutrin, I don't want to take everyday meds to head off the migraine, I'd rather medicate the headaches only when I get them.

    I totally get that drs don't want to carelessly dole out meds thus creating crippling addictions in people that might not have gone down that road if monitered more carefully but come on, can't there be a responsible middle ground.

    Ok, I've just realized that my own rant is probably a testement to how much I like my Vicodin. I better call my sponsor(just kidding).

  4. Okay, I meant testament not testement, ugh, fewer pills Chris.

  5. My feeling about opiates is thus: From what I've read, they've been used by human beings throughout history to manage pain, connect with our spirituality, for recreation, etc. They are not inherently harmful to the human body. Our bodies actually create opiates (endorphins). Obviously, the problem of addiction can be harmful. But "addiction" to me is a term fraught with negative connotations. If I'm in pain and need a medication, does that make me an addict? What if I'm in pain, and my doctor refuses to prescribe adequate pain medication? If I'm suffering, I might try to find medication on my own (without a prescription). That would make me a criminal. I think that's sad. I think there is definite discrimination in this country when it comes to prescribing certain medicines. I've read many studies where women are not taken as seriously when they report pain to their physicians as men. Oh and another great study on opiate use is called Rat Park. Seriously, read it if this sort of thing interests you, it's fascinating.

  6. Chris/formerly fun - just call my sponsor. She's terrific! tee hee...I love it that you said that.
    The problem with doctors I've encountered has nothing to do with drugs, but with their lack of being willing to actually learn about addiction and pain management.
    I've been a recovering addict or 20+ years. When I go to a doctor I am perfectly clear that taking medication is something I am willing to do but ONLY after trying everything else. I make it clear that I am a patient who is willing to go above and beyond when it comes to trying alternative therapies, physical therapy, counseling, dietary changes, etc...BEFORE drugs.
    They then immediately try to prescribe me a drug.
    That same lack of knowledge and unwillingness to listen and learn causes the situations you describe, Gwen. There you are knowing how your body reacts to things, what's going on, and practically having to fight people to get some relief.
    Turns out there has been ONE time in the last 20 years that I have legitimately needed to take a narcotic for pain. It was basically, "We're giving you this or you are going into shock and will die." Got it, thanks, now pump me full of whatever.
    Oh...I could just go on and on.
    The reason I like my doctor today is because he listens. He knows about addiction. He will read and talk with me about anything I take to him. He is teachable!

    P.S. I got back onto your blog, GWEN! Hooray! I don't know what was going on before. Wouldn't you know though that the post I would get onto was the one about addiction and drugs! ha ha! Kismet?

  7. Mongolian Girl - Great comment. It's interesting to hear your experience because I know some people who have had addiction problems in the past and because of this they are met with skepticism when they claim to be in pain in their doctor's office. I certainly can understand why that would be, but it still makes me feel bad for people who have overcome their addiction and work hard at maintaining sobriety, only to be mistrusted and denied adequate pain management.

    I think that non-pharmaceutical treatments are always the most ideal way to go. If they work. And, of course, someone with a history of addiction needs special attention and care when it comes to prescribing narcotic pain medicines. Your doctor sounds really great. There's nothing better than a physician who actually listens and isn't too proud to actually learn something from his/her patient.

    P.S. I'm so glad you found your way back onto my blog. I always look forward to your comments. And, for the record, I am just in awe of your strength. 20 years in recovery. Wow. You must be so proud of yourself!

  8. I couldn't sleep after my husband died, so my doctor prescribed a very low dose of Xanaax for me. He had me come back every 3 months to check in on me and see how I was doing and if the xanax was helping.

    Actually, I lied. He's not a doctor. He's a Physician Assistant and is better and more caring than any primary care doctor I've ever been to.

  9. I've taken Effexor for the past 2 years for PTSD that manifests as anxiety. Best decision I ever made. Don't regret it, at all. Will keep taking it as long as my stressful life requires it.

  10. LB - I'm really glad the Effexor works for you. I've tried that before and it didn't really help.

  11. When the hospice nurse came to declare my mother dead, almost the first thing she did was ask for the morphine - which she then ceremoniously dumped in the kitchen trash can. My husband was sorely disappointed...

  12. Magpie - My sister's hospice nurse did that too. It was like her first priority, which I thought was weird. We were all grieving and she's like, "Where are the drug?" I remember thinking, "Jesus, chill the fuck out, would you?" It was almost insulting the way she was so adamant about doing it RIGHT AWAY. We got a delivery of morphine later that day (apparently it was ordered before my sister died). I think my dad just poured it down the toilet.

  13. Oh gah, do I get this! Entirely.

  14. More disappearing blogs! I'm so bummed.

  15. So agree with you. Xanax worked much better than Zoloft for my anxiety. And I never overused it. I'm so paranoid about taking medication anyway. I only took it when I really needed it.

  16. Don't forget the prunes...dude that stuff will PLUG YOU UP.

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