Thursday, May 26, 2011

Painkiller Addiction? I am now a crazy person. Warning - rant ahead. Don't read.

I'm really struggling with the use of certain painkillers at the moment.

On days that I take them I find I am relaxed, happy, pleasant towards my co-workers. I feel as though they let me be my normal happy self, free from the constant pain that otherwise leaves me irritable tearful and generally unpleasant to work with.

Some days I don't take them. I do this very deliberately, to see what its like without them. To try gauge how much I really need them. Those days have been difficult. I am slower at my job. I don't stay a second past my knock off time and I find I am in pain all day.

The pain killers I take are effective for about 4-6 hours, so even in the afternoons as they are wearing off I don't feel worried, because I know I am going home soon.

I don't take them at home or in the weekends.

I only seem to have needed them in the last two weeks as I have returned to the dreaded machine that caused my over use injury in the first place.

Anyway, I know this type of painkiller can become addictive. So as I am down to my last two, I find myself nervous about asking for more. The occupational health doctor never perscribes anything on  repeat. And I have to go and ask (beg) every month for the next lot of anti-inflams, nerve calmny things, losec to take with the harsh anti-inflams and quality painkillers. The nerve calming things give you dry eyes and dry mouth but are supposed to help dampen the pain signals. The anti-inflams turn my stomach hence the need for losec. The only things that I feel work without side effects is the painkiller.

The pain killer feels like the only effective thing I have in my arsenal. They still haven't approved my acc (private acc type insurer actually, my work doesn't use acc) claim, its been months (since October 2010) and I got a letter two weeks ago saying they were still deciding. Perhaps they are afraid I want money? I don't want compensation, I want to keep working! I want effective treatment! Lack of acc approval means I am limited to what treatments I can afford. I can get physio at the hospital for free thank goodness. However some of the treatments I have received have been less than ideal (juggling therapy anyone?) 

 My private health insurance wont cover anything unless its absolutely sure work insurance/ACC (whatever) wont cover it. I end up with little choice into how my injury is actually treated. Its dis-empowering and depressing. I am just about ready to cash in my meagre savings for some private treatment and second opinions. 

My occ health doctor, who does he work for? His main job is to keep hospital staff off acc and in work, or so my boss says. So what does that really mean? He doesn't work for his patients best interests? Perhaps Occupational health doctors should be independent contractors because I don't really trust him. (It turns out he's part of the panel that approves/disproves my claim.)

I have never had a proper diagnosis. At first it was definitely muscular, when I laid down for my first physio treatment it was obvious which shoulder was in pain, without even touching it. A swollen and raised shoulder blade was fairly obvious. Now they say its just a pain issue, Just a PAIN issue? wtf. I think I damaged my subscapularis muscle.Sprain or tear or aggravation I don't know. Anyway all the exercises they gave me in the beginning made things a lot worse. Imagine having a sprained ankle and being told a couple of games a of tennis a week should fix it right up. I think it should have been immobilised and rested. But in the beginning I was advised to continue as normal.

My right hand grip is now weaker than my left, for a right handed person this is highly unusual. I cannot do a lot of my normal activities. (This leads to sadness.)

I just pretend at work that I feel fine, I try anyway. Chronic pain can't be "seen" I suppose and is difficult to sympathise with. I just tell my co-workers I'm fine. People get sick of hearing anything else. The correct answer is "fine, thanks"  and finish with a smile.  Sympathy only lasts for a short amount of time in the work place anyway. They are kind people, and they ask after my shoulder, "How is your shoulder?" but why should I burden them with the truth? They just want to be kind and asking shows concern, but beyond that.... what can they do or help with. I appreciate it every time they ask after me. But I refuse to unload my pain onto them any more. I sound like a broken record. (A crazy broken record)

This whole thing has turned me into a crazy person. I feel emotionally weak, I have lost all my resilience. 

I am not me any more. I don't think I have been for some time.


Nina said...

Aw love, I know you didn't mean it to be, but it is quite heartbreaking. I am on your team!
I'm so sorry that they are making you feel like a crazy person. You are not. They are just not doing their jobs correctly. They have obviously buggered up your diagnosis/treatment from the start. It isn't you. It's THEM!
And the chronic pain is making you feel like you are being crazy. But you aren't. And you have a right to treatment. And to be grumpy. And maybe to punch some people in the back.
Hugs! xxx

Zed said...

It comes back to that old trope of never remembering pain - you only remember when you've actually got pain again! Part of our defense mechanism I suppose. That's why people have minimal sympathy to it I suppose - you really never want to remember it TOO well.

Still - there should be a certain amount of compassion even amongst workmates - and especially your boss who is ultimately responsible for your work-related health, and at it's most basic management crapola level - your long-term productivity.

I went through a similar thing when I was younger. Before they discovered Helicobacter causes stomach ulcers I went through the entire medical system only to have them arrogantly declare it was stress - even though the stress was actually a result of my long-term continuous pain and their attitude to it. Whatever happened to the doctor's holistic role of supporting the patient and making them feel better about things? That died towards the end of the 70's when doctors also stopped making house calls. I was left ultimately disappointed with both my treatment and the medical profession overall, and quite bizarrely it was simple old Aloe Vera juice that sorted the problem in the end.

I think that there's definitely a conflict of interest in this case when the doctor is supplied by your employer, plus also a lot of potential ass-covering, which has obviously slowed down the entire healing process for you.

I suggest you keep good documentation of everything that happens so that if it ever gets bad enough to hit the courts you have the best evidence of your treatment so far.

And hang in there - these things tend to come in blocks, and you will move past it eventually.

I say groin punch!


Painkiller addication said...

Have you tried any painkiller treatment?