Hello sorry if this ends up being long winded but I feel I need to explain myself thoroughly.
I'm a 20 year old college student with a genetic disorder that effects the connective tissue in my body. Since a very young age I have known that I was going to have to manage pain eventually in my life. I wear KAFOs (knee ankle foot orthotic) on both legs. The doctors thought that I would permanently be in a wheel chair by the age of 16.
My brother (age 23) and I both have the same genetic disorder. We have always had pain (though not chronic) our whole life. Now both of us have started having chronic pain. Most of this is due to arthritis issues and back issues, and especially joint pains.
I have always had the mentality that I could just deal with the pain. I figured that if I develope a high tolerance of pain early in my life, I could tolerate high levels of pain with relatively mild drugs later in life. I have family members who take high dosages of narcotics (oxycontin) and their quality of life is bad and is something I never want for myself.
I have managed my whole life up to this point with over the counter drugs for most pain issues. Aleve being the most useful. Recently I finally gave in to the nagging of relatives and went to the doctor for my pain issues. He prescribed me 15mg Meloxicam. This actually helped tremendously, and I was amazed at actually how much mild nagging pain I was in before taking the drug. However, it has stopped working, and even when it does work, bad weather or flare ups nearly keep me bedridden.
Now I am to the point where I can't sit in a 50 minute lecture without having so much pain in my back that I stop paying attention. I can't walk 100 yards without shooting pain in my knees. I am to the point where I can't function enough to get through classes, and I am failing because of it.
I have always been afraid of getting addicted to drugs. My fear is coming true now though. I just realized that while my friends have been drinking and partying, the last two months I have consumed alcohol simply to mask my pain. (yes I'm 20, but I'm a college student what do you expect). I went to class yesterday drunk because I woke up in pain and in my mind my options were either to skip class or get rid of the pain. Today I got ****** at myself for not being able to deal with the pain and went to class without anything. It took me two hours to walk back to my car because every step I took felt like my foot was on fire and my knee was being pummeled by a sledge hammer.
I'm depressed, in pain, failing my classes, and can't seem to fix any of it. My doctor has told me that I should see a pain specialist if the Meloxicam stops working. But I know that all the pain specialist will do is prescribe me narcotics, which is exactly what I have been striving to stay away from my whole life.
But I am to the point where I need to do something. I have a few questions though regarding my options.
Do any of you have any experience managing pain without taking medication?
My doctor (the one who prescribed the meloxicam) is over 300 miles away. If I decide to see a pain specialist, do I have to talk to him, or can I just walk in?
Thanks and sorry for the wall.
Last edited by Administrator; 01-13-2010 at 02:13 AM.
I'm sorry to hear of your pain and what you are going through at such a young age but commend you for still going to college and keep living life.
The best advice I can give is to do go to pain management doctor, take your medical records. They know whats the best solution for you and treatment. The can do injections, shock treatment ect.
Keep on fighting and keep your streanth up budy, you are not alone. You sound like a very strong person set you mind to use the drugs when you are supposed to and if you need an extra one today know that you are borrowing from tomorrow but don't get into taking more than you are supposed to. Hope you find a good PM.
Last edited by Administrator; 01-13-2010 at 02:13 AM.
I'm not trying to encourage you to take medication. If you have an addictive personality it may be a problem. But for some people it can make a difference between being able to function or not. You may have professors who are taking pain medication and not even know it. At maintenance levels it won't make you loopy. And it won't make you high or smell funny.
Again, I'm not trying to encourage it, but if you see a Pain Management doctor they can see if you're a candidate first of all for cortisone injections, nerve ablations etc. and if those don't work then the possibility of medications.
Last edited by Administrator; 10-22-2009 at 03:11 PM.
Lemon is right about the meds. Proper use can put you back into life. But you need to find a good PM who can get you under his care and stabelized. When it gets to the point that you are not thinking because of the pain, then you need to do something else besides drink! YOu odn't need to become an alcoholic becuase of this. There are other things to try. Accupuncture, therapy, water therapy, injections, just for starters. So find a good PM and start from there.
I would try the PM You want to finish college-not be hooked a DRUG.
Good luck....we have all lived with pain, so we know of what you speak...
Last edited by Administrator; 10-22-2009 at 03:12 PM.
Thanks for the detail it helps us understand where you are. You are young but it is time to get your pain managed by a professional. Usually family physicians are good at the first level of attack but when it is real chronic pain - it is best to go to pain management doctors. They are specially trained and on top of all the treatments. You will need a referral from your doctor to the PM doc because they do not just take "walk in" patients.
When you drink alcohol you are managing your pain in ways that are not productive for your condition. The goal of Physician directed pain management is to reduce your pain and IMPROVE your functioning (not put you into a stupor!)
The meloxicam (mobic) is good at inflammatory - connective disorders, but I am not even sure you are at the max amount for that. Plus there are many combinations of medicines like this one that are not narcotic. There is a really good set of medicines for nerve pain (the shooting pains) called neurontin or lyrica. Depression kind of comes with the pain territory, we all get it in some form. Once you get your pain managed properly then the depression kind of follows suit for most people and gets better. PMs also can use an arsenal of good medications to help with this.
I also think it is important for you to understand the difference between addiction and dependance. Pain people are dependent on their pain medicines just like a diabetic is for insulin, or people on blood pressure, etc..
Not everyone who uses narcotic medications becomes "addicted" that is really about behaviors associated with out of control use. Drug addiction is a disease in which there are three elements 1) Loss of control (also called compulsive use) of a drug – the person uses more than intended, is unsuccessful in attempts to cut down, etc. 2) Continuation despite significant adverse consequences – disease or injury, job loss, relationship difficulties, arrest, etc. 3) Preoccupation or obsession – over obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of the drug. If you and your family want to read some good articles on this search for an article called "Opioids, Pain Management, and Addiction" Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D., Ph.D. She is a well known specialist in this area and has many good articles online. There are people with past addiction problems on this board who have to be in pain management and they just set up a management system to ensure they do not abuse their medications.
We are all ages here, we do get younger people once in a while and I don't think age is the problem, you need your pain managed so you can lead a full and productive life as possible as you can. Please ask for a referral and get to a specialist. If you cannot get to a Pain management doctor - do you see a rheumatologist? Usually they too are very good at managing the type problem you have.
I had a hard time moving up to stronger medications and fought it a long time. I was miserable. Finally I got to the point where I was continuously crying and my family made me get help. I must say that it was the best thing I ever did, I am in much more comfort and can function better than before. It is not the end of the world to be on pain medications - actually over time you kind of adjust to them and don't really notice they are there other than they are reducing your pain. I don't feel in stupors, or high or anything, your body adjusts and you don't get the affects you get when you first start taking them. They start you out low and move you up slowly so your body has time to adjust.
Sorry you feel bad, stay away from the drinking - that is a slippery slope to start down. You can get to feeling better - I guarantee it.
(forgot to add about Pain Psychologist (PP): Do not be afraind if they suggest this in your treatment. It isn't what you think it is. Pain Phsychologists are trained in behavirol and coping strategies against pain. Originally I went because I was being evaluated for a spinal implant and it was required. I ended up continuing for a while on my own because I found it to be very productive and helpful in learning mind control and strategies for vizualization, calming, breathing, etc. )
Last edited by Administrator; 10-22-2009 at 03:13 PM.
Thanks everyone for all of the replies. I have an appointment with a pain specialist next week.
ArmyVet2004 - Thank you for the kind words. I take pride in trying to live a very constructive life. I had the opportunity after high school to collect permanent disability off of my dads social security for the rest of my life. It was an easy decision for me to go to college however. Besides, I love learning.
I have a bad rap for opiods. Like I said before, my grandfather takes as far as I'm aware, the maximum dosage of oxycontin available, with "boosters" as he calls them when he needs more help with pain (I believe his boosters are hydrocodone, but its not my place to ask). He is very depressed right now, sometimes is delusional, never has energy, and sleeps more than 16 hours a day. I also have two other relatives who have used and have had a destructive life because of it.
I do have an addictive personality. Also, I have had several surgeries and been prescribed pain killers in the past ranging from hydrocodone, to codeine, to hydromorphone. I liked how these drugs made me feel, I won't lie about that. That is why I am afraid that I could easily use them for more than pain.
I just wanted to look at all my options and hear from people who deal with chronic pain. I appreciate everyone who had input on the subject, it is very helpful to me.
I will get more answers hopefully when I talk to my pain specialist next week.
Last edited by Administrator; 10-22-2009 at 03:14 PM.
No one mentioned it so i will chime in. By going with a pm there are off counter uses of other perscriptions that a pm would know about that would be useful in your case. There are several that could help with specific situations that are not narcotics. Narcotics is not the only thing a great PM does.... They generally use a cotail approach to see what works. It is a trial and error and some times needs changing or adjusting.
It does not mean you failed at living with your situation. It means you reached out or fixing to reach out for help. It is a much better thing to find a good pm that will work with you to find out what works for you then self medicating or experimenting on your own. Good luck to you and try above all to finish school you can do it. I hope you get some relief soon
You mentioned that this is a genetic disorder. You probably have already done this, but if not, I would definitely contact a geneticist. Medicine changes so quickly and a geneticist will know the latest treatment options for your particular disorder. Your only option may be pain management... but if you have not seen a geneticist in many years it may be time for a followup with one. Good luck!