Better living through chemistry?

Percocet-Generic-Oxycodone-242x300It was only about four or five months ago that I wrote Pain, a post about my decision to put off taking opiate pain relievers. I was – and still am – very ambivalent about it. The difference being that now I’ve taken the plunge.

This is a lot more significant to me than just the fact that my pain is becoming harder to manage through less powerful means. In that post, I wrote:

The last reason I give is closely tied with what I think is the psychological underpinning of my reluctance. I think I have an irrational sense that starting on narcotics will mean that I’m at the end, that all that is left for me is death. The thing is, whether or not I start using opiates now, the fact remains that I have a terminal disease, that I will die sooner rather than later. My irrational feeling is that taking these drugs will hasten the approach of the end. I know this isn’t true; the fact remains: that’s how I feel.

The moment has come. I have had to start occasionally taking oxycodone for pain that cannot be alleviated by other means. I don’t take it all the time, or even every day, but I can no longer deny the fact that this pain really hurts.

I feel pretty awful about it. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong, like I’m cheating somehow. Sometimes I feel like I’ve acquiesced to a malevolent power. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hastened my death with this decision.

I know this isn’t true; the fact remains: that’s how I feel.

So, reframe it. I take this medicine to make my life more livable, to be better able to take care of myself, to better enjoy my days and nights. When the pain is manageable I can pray better, work better, rest better, play better. When “Oh, dear Lord, this hurts!” is not the sole thought in my head I can sing, tell jokes, enjoy books and music, play Words with Friends and Lexulous.

When the pain recedes considerably, I can tell myself that I’m not that sick.

I know this isn’t true; the fact remains, that’s how I feel.

So I guess I am still ambivalent about taking narcotics. I am going to do my best to relax and accept it as part of my life at this time – but without ever denying my feelings. When God created the universe and all that it holds, emotions were part of it. And he saw that it was good.

So I’ll take my emotions, my ambivalence and my pain meds and I’ll keep moving through this world as best I can.

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10 Responses

  1. kim says:

    My husband and I were just talking about “better living through chemistry”. In those exact words! I just arrived home from my double mastectomy. As A chiropractor, I have nothing in my medicine cabinet. After my c-sections I took pain meds. After my meniscus surgeries I took pain meds – most of which ended up in the trash but I used them when I need them. I like to know what’s going on in my body but there is a point where pain can be all consuming. As a surgeon, my husband is very conservative with the medications he prescribes to his patients – but he knows when pain relief is beneficial to healing and living.

    NO GUILT! You deserve to feel good!

  2. Laura N says:

    After reading your post, I can honestly say that I’m very proud of you for making the right decision –on your own terms– when you felt the time was right.
    Sending my admiration wrapped in a warm hug.

  3. jbmoorpark says:

    I don’t know what to say other than that I admire you and think of you every day.

  4. Pain takes precedence. It is hard to think about or do anything else. If medication allows you to live better, it is the thing to do. You can decide something else later if you want to, but it sounds like a very good decision to me. I commend you and support you fully and wish you many “good” days. And thanks for being so brave as to share.

  5. Maxine D says:

    Life never stands still, and this is a decision that you have had to take to give yourself some more time to live life to the fullest that you can at this time. Don’t berate yourself for doing what you needed to and are obviously benefiting from.
    Blessings and prayers

  6. kurtnemes says:

    I heard a piece on radiolab recently which said that, almost unanimously, doctors in your same position would not hesitate to take pain killers. You are so brave to stay engaged with your journey and to write about it. If you did not do yourself the kindness to lovingly take these pain medications, the pain might become so unbearable that you’d want to hasten the end. Peace be with you.

  7. As Lois said, pain takes precedence. It’s pretty tough to focus on anything else when you’re in pain. I understand about those mind games. It sounds to me as if you are handling things in the way that feels right for you. I hate that you have so much pain and I’m really sorry, but I’m glad you are choosing your own way to handle things. Thank you for writing about this important topic so honestly.

  8. Knot Telling says:

    I wonder if you all know how much it means to me that you read and comment on my thoughts in this blog. Some of you I know well and others only through social media, and you are all important parts of my life.

    Thank you from the depths of my heart.

  9. I’m so glad you were able to reframe your thoughts, about pain. Would it help if I tell you that there are studies showing that – when adequately controlled – patients with great supportive care actually have better quality of life? It’s possible to work with your doctor to manage the pain and not feel like you’re stoned.

    Sending you tons for support for your courage and honest in working through a tough issue. Big hugs,


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