Wow, I have followed you and your stories for over a year, and it seems like every time you get a good stretch of opiate-free time in your life where you are off the hydros, then "boom," something medical happens and you are faced with the stress of how to handle it and all the decision making along with how to keep your sobriety, and I have no doubt that given your marital situation, you are trying to handle this all alone and have few people beyond this board to talk to about your pain concerns. On top of the upcoming dental work, your current stage of recovery, and your often lacking-in-the-empathy-department spouse, you also have all your kids to take care of! Once again now, as in the past, I marvel at your strength and determination to keep adding to your 60+ days!
When you said you wondered how those on Sub do it as the opiate receptors are blocked, I don't know how to answer that, but I can tell you what my clinic doctor told me about how they will handle any pain-producing medical procedures I may have to go through since I am currently on methadone maintenace therapy to help me get off the hydros...something else we have in common, those dang hydros and the euphoria as well as the very real pain relief they provide.
I was concerned about being on methadone as I have no doubt I will be facing some kind of medical procedure that results in post-procedure pain if things keep going the way they have been and if I had to have something done like the dental work you are describing (I have some very old fillings that I know aren't going to hold up much longer!). It could be another colonoscopy (I have irritable bowel syndrome and lots of bloody, mucousy stuff that escapes through the colon, but in order to diagnose and treat it they had to do a lot of testing, and so far I've had 3 colonoscopies, one sigmoidoscopy). It could be again, because I--like you--have an ulcer which is diagnosed and checked on via an EGD (I thought you had one--where they stick the metal tube with a light on it down your throat and look into your stomach?). Or again, and like you, I've had a cervical conization (I had a positive pap smear that resulted in surgery...by the way, how is all that going for you? Seems you haven't said anything about that lately? You and I had the exact same thing, so I'd be happy to talk about it if you ever want to--the colposcopy, the biopsy to confirm the pap--was pretty uncomfortable as I recall. Then four years ago, and most recently, I had a hysterectomy and my third umbilical hernia surgery!
Anyway, sorry to digress to me, me, me, me, but I really just wanted you to know that we have a lot in common medically and I truly understand your concern about the pain and how to deal with it now that addiction has turned into recovery. When I told my methadone clinic doctor my medical history, I asked extensively and specifically how they would handle it with me being on the meth. He said that is the only time they disclose to another medical professional...with my permission still, (I believe?) that I am on methadone. For example, if I had to go under anesthesia, the anesthesiologist would have to know that I was on methadone so they don't under medicate me and I end up feeling everything! Yikes!!!
I have no qualms about the methadone clinic's dr. disclosing to a surgeon or whomever might be doing a procedure on me that I am a methadone patient. The clinic dr. said he writes the other doctor, anesthesiologist, etc., that I am on "xxx" mgs. of methadone (currently I'm on 105 mgs/day), and I will require much more pain relief both during and after the procedure than the average person who is not on methadone. But then I told the clinic doctor that my goal is to get off the pain pills, and I didn't want any type of medical or dental procedure to be a setback in my recovery from pain pill addiction. He simply asked me to please not worry about it...that there are really times when we do need our pain managed. Although surgery or other painful procedure are often how many people get started down the road to full-blown addiction, we are in a treatment program, and it should not viewed by us or anyone else we tell about it, as a relapse or a setback. He told me that all methadone patients are monitored & watched very closely by both himself and the other dr's that may get have to get involved in our lives in the future. Without me even saying it, he then assured me that I would not get "the look" (you know what I'm talking about ;)!) from the staff simply because I'm on methadone trying to help myself with my addiction. Now when I go to the doctor, I am there for treatment, not to lie to them for drugs, and now, maybe for the first time, if it happens and I needed pain managment, I would take them as needed and for the very reason for which they were made--pain control.
I know you don't want to take anything in the narcotic family as you go thru this dental work, so please don't think I am encouraging you to do that! I only wanted to tell you that when something like that happens--and it was not something made up in order to get pills--it is looked at differently in the eyes of the doctor. Well, at least for this clinic...I don't want to sound like I am speaking for anyone else or their programs. I have heard that AA and even NA (?) is pretty much against taking drugs of any kind for any reason, but personally, I feel that there may at times have to be an exception to that. I also feel that we sometimes confuse our old drug-seeking behaviors which so often included lieing to doctors, hospitals, nurses, pharmacists, etc., that we tend to take that old way of thinking and how it made us feel about ourselves so that even while we are in recovery from our addiction, we transfer those old and no-longer-valid feelings into our new lives.
A non-addict would have the dental work done, take the pain meds as prescribed and be done with it. An addict in recovery, I think, tends to now see pain as an unnatural thing and applies all sorts of restrictions to its treatment even though it is legitimate and very real...do you know what I mean? I am hoping that if the day ever comes that I have to have a procedure done that results in pain, that when the dr. looks at my chart and sees that I am on methadone, he will simply adjust the post-op or post-procedure pain meds accordingly and not give me any looks of disgust or think (like we used to in our addictive, paranoid minds) that I had this procedure just to get some pills!
Sorry for the lengthy ramble, Lisa! I wish you all the best with this dental work, or this test of will, however you view it. I remember when you had the carpal tunnel surgery, but I don't recall how you handled the pain after that? Whatever you did to treat it, if you did take pain meds, did it send you backwards towards addiction, or were you able to take it as prescribed? I am curious if you did take pain meds, if it brought back to mind all that was "good" about the pills in the first place...like was there euphoria and that warm, fuzzy feeling all over again? Or did it do what it is supposed to do, which is simply reduce the post-operative pain? I'm sorry I don't remember how you got throught that, but I know you did get through it...you truly are a tough person, and I think if we hadn't taken pain pills for so long, we wouldn't have such a low tolerance to pain and over-the-counter meds would work better for us. Believe me when I say I wish an Advil or a Tylenol would work for me :rolleyes: !
Good luck to you Lisa, and whatever you do, I don't think anyone...especially yourself...should or would see it as a relapse if the non-narcotic way isn't enough to keep you comfortable. When I do stop to think it through, having a painful procedure done and taking pain relief meds for it--as prescribed and only for the length of time one is supposed to, well that is what most folks would do--and not put themselves through this mind agony you're experiencing. After all, you wouldn't be doing what I and probably other addicts used to do when having had a surgery...I used to take the pills for the frist couple of days and then put them away and go thru the pain. Why? Because I wanted to save them for when I wanted to have some fun! Now that is some sickening, drug addict behavior and a line of thinking that I don't feel you have nor that I will hopefully ever have again!
Take care and do what you think is best for you. All my best, Lisa, you've had a full plate ever since I started lurking here, and I am happy that things are changing for you :)
p.s. After watching my son go through six years of orthodontics, from 2nd grade and all the prep work so the braces could be put on 4 years later, and then until the braces came off in 8th grade and unveiled his beautiful smile, I know he would say it was worth all the pain he endured (even the 16 extractions...baby teeth and permanents combined and all the years of appts.) to have the extra dose of self-esteem that a sweet, beautiful smile can give a person. I will be anxious to read your thread when your work is all done...I just know you will LOVE the results :D !