Friday, October 29, 2010

The road back

One thing that has worried me throughout these past 11 days or is the constant level of Codeine-family (opiate-based) painkillers I've had in my body to combat the pain. I've even been setting an alarm at 3 am to get up and take more on schedule, just to keep the level up and the pain at bay. I realize how addictive this stuff can be, and I have known opiate addicts in my life. I know that the effectiveness decreases over time, leading to more and more intake if a person is not careful. I don't believe anyone ever *intends* to get hooked on anything, but I have been taking the maximum recommended daily dose for a week straight and that hasn't been fully fighting the pain. I've resisted the strong urge to fake more than the recommended dose. The farther I get from the surgery and as the pain fades somewhat naturally, I have decided to start weaning myself off of them. Today I started halving my dose, taking 375mg of hydrocodone every 4 hours rather than the 750 I'd been taking. I figure I'll do that for 2 days and then halve it again: 375 every 8, etc. Hopefully it will be reasonably painless to get off this stuff.


emily said...

oo. wow. i wouldn't recommend that. not yet.

obviously you should do what's right for you, and not what's right for me. but making pain go away is much, much harder than preventing pain from getting a toehold in the first place. poorly controlled pain also slows healing. if the drugs haven't yet been able to control the pain, it's way too early to start tapering.

i understand and sympathize with your concerns about becoming physically dependent on the opiates. however, you've already shown you're not going to get addicted, in that you don't like the way they make you feel. when you're free of the brain fuzz it'll be a relief to you, and i'll put dollars to donuts you never have a craving for morpheus.

physical dependency is another thing entirely, and is somewhat inevitable. but tapering off the drugs is a simple process, totally doable, nothing to be worried about at this point in time.

but again: it's your body, not mine. you should do what feels best for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree and second Emily. This was a major surgery and caused major trauma to your body - it's gonna hurt for a while. And taking the right meds to help alleviate that pain is perfectly okay. If you are still feeling pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying a different medication that may be even stronger than what you're taking now - and that's okay too. You could even let your doctor know that you're worried about addiction and ask him to keep an eye on you as time goes on and your body heals. Most of them are pretty good about seeing signs of addiction in their patients as they recover from surgery.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that last comment was from Mary Rohe

M said...

I'm not making this decision in a vacuum, of course: I am watching the level of painkillers in my bottles dwindle and realize that going off it gradually is better than going off it cold turkey. I have used up not just the entire prescription that they gave me, but the entire leftover prescriptions from both my Diverticulosis episode last winter, and the from the original biopsy with Dr. Ungawa this summer. I called and talked to the on-call Urology doc this morning and no, they will not call in another prescription for narcotic painkillers for me without seeing me in person. Understandably, for the addiction-related reasons that I mentioned earlier. I would have to teither come down to Rochester or be seen in the ER here. So, while staying on them indefinitely may seem like a neat idea and an easy solution, I am forced to go off of them and I'd rather do it gradually than suddenly. If, when I meet with Dr. Hunter on Monday I am still in a lot of pain, he may give me a small prescription for a few more. But I will not have enough to carry me through until Monday at this rate, so I am balancing it out to carry me through. On a related note, more of the pain I have been feeling *may* have been from the bladder infection (I am frustrated that no medical person thought of this as a possible source of the pain, it was my mom and I that figured it out and my GP that confirmed it) and the pain has been lessening as the antibiotics begin to work. FYI, frequent bladder infections can be lead to bladder cancer, and I am for some reason prone to them, which is unusual for a male.

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