Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome to the Jungle

Welcome to the bizarre, uncharted territory we now find ourselves in. If you're new to this injury, it usually goes something like this:

Step 1 - you have some kind of incident or a dental procedure - it may be as simple as a cavity being filled, or as complex as oral surgery or implant placement.

Step 2 - something goes wrong....the normal numbness following a visit to the dentist doesn't fade away in an hour or two. Instead, you are left with lingering pain, burning tongue, pins & needles feeling, numbness, dry mouth, and possibly a myriad of other symptoms such as headaches, sore throat, earache, and more...all on the same side of your face that the dental work occurred.

Step 3 - you struggle to determine what's wrong. You visit all manner of doctors and dental practitioners. You spend hours on Google. Nobody understands, because "you look fine". Even the medical community looks at you with bewilderment or disbelief that you have anything more than anxiety.

Step 4 - if you're lucky, you heal within a day or two, a week or two, or within the first 90 days. Congratulations! If you are one of the 20% or so who doesn't heal within that time frame, you are looking at an indeterminate amount of healing time, where you try everything on God's green earth to make it better.

While I don't have a cure, I do have personal experience which may help you navigate the jungle, so if you haven't reviewed some of my earlier posts, and you have some free time, I suggest you start with those from 2010 and work forward.

A doctor said to me recently that nerves can take 5-10 years to heal, and that it's promising that I'm still improving after all this time. My biggest struggle now is getting pain medication prescriptions filled. It is crazy what is going on. I am a degreed professional on the exact same, low dose of pain reliever every month, and following doctor's orders to the letter, yet I am treated like a drug-seeking addict every time I visit the pharmacy.

The ordeal of finding the right doctor(s), then finding a pharmacy (note: avoid Walgreens and CVS), then playing by the DEA's rules which are ever changing while you simply try to stay on top of your game while living your life of chronic pain, is the name of the game these days.

I have signed petitions and am preparing a letter to the editor of Time magazine in rebuttal to their recent article demonizing prescription drug use for chronic pain sufferers. Makes it sound like every pain patient turns into a heroin addict buying drugs off the street (largely because, by cutting off the supply of opioids as the DEA has done, many people have turned to heroin because it is easier and cheaper to find than prescription meds that are closely regulated). 
Time magazine requires you to pay to read the article, but there is an article about the cover story here-


Take a look...and PLEASE take a moment to write a letter to the editor of Time magazine in response.


President John F. Kennedy had chronic pain resulting from an old military injury, yet he managed to hold the highest office in the land, thanks to prescription meds - yet if he were around today, might not be able to get his rx for Vicodin filled.

What a mess this "war on drugs" is...they are focused on the wrong thing, and take a blanket approach that is ridiculous. It's like putting out a candle with a fire hose, flooding the entire house.

Are any of you experiencing the same judgey pharmacy clerks and prescription refusal where you live? How are you coping with the pain? I have tried numerous anti-seizure and anti-depressant drugs that turned me into a zombie. I can't live a productive life like that. So I slosh through the new jungle of painkilling drugs, as a chronic pain patient just trying to do the right thing.