All posts filed under: prescription

Washington Post: The Other Opioid Crisis

I just stumbled across a great piece in the Washington Post by a former hospice nurse. We’ve heard this story before (“the opioid crisis is harming pain patients”), but it needs to be told again, louder and louder, in bigger and bigger outlets, until we are heard and understood. How many more patients will commit suicide before this problem is addressed? Advertisements

Pain News Network: Media Hysteria and the Opioid Crisis

Hello, my darlings! Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network! _________________________________________________________________ I recently received this email from a family member: Hi Jen, I was listening to a thing on pain medication and why prescription meds are so dangerous. They turn the receptors off in the brain and the person forgets to breathe.  That part is a totally separate thing from the pain. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was on talking about it. I think that is a very valid argument about overuse of pain meds. For example, Prince had very valid issues to use the meds and also lived a very clean life style. If he overused, it goes to follow that someone who doesn’t lead a clean lifestyle is in more danger. It’s not the meds as much as the brain receptors. The breathing part is scary. So I’m not such an advocate anymore…..unless you can tell me this isn’t true and why he would say that. I love you and don’t want anything to happen to you. Xoxoxox I got mad after …

The Pill Suite is Pretty Sweet

If you’re like me (delightful, fierce, and bothered by various physical ailments), then you have a ton of pills. Let’s take a look at what I consume on a daily basis: Tramadol (50 mg every 4-6 hours as needed) Cymbalta (80 mg, 20 mg in the morning, 60 mg at night) Valium (5 mg, as needed) Zyrtec (every night for my Eosinophilic Esophagitis) Prilosec (40 mg per day) Carafate (two teaspoons 4 times a day) Calcium (RX-strength) Vitamin D3 (RX-strength) Vitamin K2 (RX-strength) …I’m honestly losing track. Here’s the nonsense I deal with each morning (and these are only the morning, I didn’t get a picture of the nightly regimen): I can organize the hoard pretty easily using one of these sweet babies: Those pill cases can be difficult when going somewhere overnight or for a few days. At this point I’m an expert at telling pills apart (and if I’m only 99 percent sure, I’ll Google it to be responsible), but it’s hard to say, “Okay, this group is for the morning, this group is for the …

3 Weeks ACDF Post-Surgery Update

I had my first follow-up on Friday with my surgeon. Up until that point I’d been in my pajamas with a hard neck collar, buzzed hair, thick black-rimmed glasses, and obviously no makeup. There wasn’t anything close to “hot” in “hot mess” here. But hey, buzzed hair = barely shampooing = don’t knock it ’til you try it, because trying to shampoo your hair after neck surgery is a wench. My latest foray into the outside world before seeing my surgeon for the all-clear? Chasing my damn cat, Fattie, who decided that the cold muddy day of the week was the perfect time to sneak past me out the front door while I talked to a woman across the street. She made to leap from the front steps straight onto the muddy ground and then — after shrieking at me for grabbing her tail — gave me a furious look like the mud was somehow my fault. “Excuse me a moment,” I said before scrambling after the cat, socks in the mud while my poor neighbor just stared at me (thanks for the …

Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion… and Phlegmy, Phlegmy Mucus

That’s an ominous title, isn’t it? BUCKLE UP, BUCKAROOS! FIRST OFF: I HAD SPINAL SURGERY, AND IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. My first surgery wasn’t quite the success for which I’d hoped. I tried not to hope for this one, because I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt. Well, boys and girls, this one worked. It’s like the first time they dug around in my neck, they only pulled out half a rotting tooth before stitching me back up. The second surgery removed the rest of that festering, pulsating monstrosity and cleaned it out entirely. So, was it worth it? Heck yes.  HEY HEY, I HAD SURGERY I am now a bit more than one week post-anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. I had the same procedure as I did two years ago (ACDF, levels C4-C5 as opposed to the earlier C5-C6). It was the same hospital, even the same surgeon, and yet so many things were different. Round I was March 27, 2014. I remember four things vividly: the feeling of funny juice speeding through my body right …

Let’s Talk About The TENS Unit

I’m a huge advocate of clothing camouflage. Loose shirts and cardigans are great to hide a flabby stomach or that back-fat area around a tight bra strap; however, I’m wearing them to hide both a back brace and a TENS unit. (And the bra fat. Let’s be real.) Here’s me in my extremely stylish office bathroom: I usually only wear the TENS on occasions when my back pain is truly escalating and refuses to level off. This week has been particularly bad. The TENS is keeping me at a functioning level, considering I am backing off the Lyrica. The electrodes irritate my skin after more than one use, which is unfortunate, but the only cost-efficient way to use the device is to reuse the pads until the gel wears down and the pads electrocute you. Tiny shocks to be sure, but electrocutions nonetheless. Side note on the electrodes: Don’t go through the supplier from which you acquired the actual unit. My insurance company holds the very ridiculous philosophy that while they will cover the device, they will not cover the electrodes. Tufts, you silly company, …

I Make Pain Look Good.

Take a look at this person. Take a real good look. Then ask yourself: Is this person in pain? She looks fine, you think. She doesn’t have a handicap placard on her car. She doesn’t walk with a cane. She isn’t wearing a brace.  You furrow your eyebrows, and then you think: She looks totally normal.  The thing is that when this picture was taken, she was in a world of pain. She had three sort-of healed spinal fractures and a calcified nerve cluster. Even though she was smiling under the artful disguise of Microsoft Paint, she was hurting. She was wearing a back brace under that dress. She changed into flats as soon as that picture was taken. She found a place to sit down and close her eyes, trying to match her inhales and exhales to the thud-thud-thudding of her spasming muscles. She had her special dichroic glass pill case in her handbag filled with Tramadol, Nabumetone, and Vicodin. She had already calculated how long she could stand being upright and the time it would take to get back to …

Word War Won: “Victim” vs. “Survivor” vs. “Thriver”

I was going to talk about different words during this edition, but Alexis got me thinking. We had a very uncomfortable session the other day during which she asked me how things are going now that I’ve cut out sugar and alcohol. It started last week when we had a Skype session and she saw my face. She said I needed to do a detox. Immediately. I felt slow and inflamed, my brain was foggy, and even my face looked puffy. I’d gone to a small law school reunion/memorial for my friend Andy and saw surprise on my classmates’ faces; the last time they saw me was thirty pounds ago. (Granted, some of that weight gain was necessary at the time since I was an anthropomorphic coat hanger, but do you know how hard it was just now to type “thirty pounds ago”?) My pain was worsening. I’d been gaining weight despite exercising every day, thanks to my medication increasing my appetite to that of a starving boat wreck survivor. I’d binge in the evenings after work, thinking I deserve this as I snatched …

Embracing Pain with Mindfulness

Is it better to ignore pain or embrace it? I thought for the longest time that by meeting my pain head-on, I was doing myself a good service. And it’s true; ignoring pain can be emotionally and mentally taxing. If I embraced the pain, I would be able to discover the edges of it. Then I could encase it in a box within my mind, if that makes any sense. I’d be able to get outside of my own head. Surely this was better than ignoring how I felt? Better than pressing onward despite feeling like a train was chug-a-chug-a-chugging along my spinal column? After the first accident, I thought that I’d felt the worst pain I could ever feel. After the second accident, naturally, I realized that the pain can get worse. The pain can always get worse. And where before I could feel the edges of it, after the second accident I was burning inside, burning outside, just burning. I tried to face it; instead, I was directed by it. If I turned too quickly and felt …

Small Hurt Versus Big Hurt

I am typing this with nine fingers because I lost a fight with a stick blender today. Why is it that small injuries seem to hurt worse than large ones? I sliced my left index finger in a way that (probably) does not necessitate stitches. I had to take pain killers and vodka — not at the same time — and ice it. It’s still throbbing. … Thrrrrrrooooooobbbbbbbing. Immediate pain seems to envelop the mind in a way that chronic pain can’t, since chronic pain is something that one comes to live with and therefore ignores. You adjust as necessary. Your back and neck hurt on a daily basis? Change the way you sit so that you don’t aggravate it. Don’t do too much, keep an eye on it, don’t move your head too quickly, and don’t go pole-vaulting. You cut your finger? DISTRACTION NEEDED. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD, THIS HURTS. On the plus side, this is distracting me from my normal pain! So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.