Now, I don’t say “a girl like me” with any sort of self-loathing or us vs. them mentality. The “anything but normal” flag I onced waved with such venomous pride has been retired in favor of the “take me as I am” banner.
What I mean to say is that a person who is openly in recovery should not be so easily prescribed narcotic drugs.
I’m very grateful, and very fortunate, to have been placed into the middle of a community that watches for relapsing behavior. I’m even more grateful and blessed to have been through a program that didn’t focus on quitting but, instead, on changing. I don’t feel that I am an addict in recovery, I feel I am recovered from addiction. Healed. New. Fresh. It’s both humbling and empowering at the same time.
Still, with all my celebration of new identity and fresh faced optimism, I’d be foolish to not let my doctor know I’m moving into my 3rd year clean. If people who have never struggled with an addiction can find themselves inadvertently battling one to pain killers, certainly those of us who have lived addicted lives, healed or not, can do the same. It’s not fear of failing that motivates me to make sure my healthcare providers know I once was an addict, it’s the determination to continue to succeed.
I’ve been struggling for several weeks with a mysterious injury. I’m not sure what I did, when I did, if I did or how it happened, but one day I woke up and my neck was sharply painful and, as days passed, clearly intent on staying that way. I presented myself to my primary caregiver, we discussed pain levels and options and I left with a prescription for percocet and the mutual belief that the pain that had mysteriously appeared would just as mysteriously disappear. It didn’t. I called my doctor and, by phone, received another prescription for percocet. Two months later, still in pain, still taking percocet, I returned to my doctors office where we discussed my concerns about being so consistently on a narcotic drug. I reminded her of my history and asked for a different treatment plan. I left with a prescription for muscle relaxants and an appointment with a different doctor.
Asking for drugs makes me uncomfortable, like I’m opening myself up to criticism and judgment, like the doctor is going to look at me and know that I like to get high and that’s why I’m asking. At least, that’s what I think they’re going to assume about me. Asking for pain killers, for me, is like openly asking for cocaine. It just feels wrong. It feels like it should be frowned upon. Going to my doctor that first time two months ago – even knowing that I was in pain and that I needed that pain to somehow end – it took every measure of strength to actually phrase the question, “um..do you think I could take something for the pain?”, with eyes to the floor and a slight shifting in my chair. I was amazed by her even toned response, barely a glance to me as she continued at her computer, “yep, makes sense to me…what kind do you like?”
What kind do I like? I can tell you what kind of drugs I like and you’re just going to give them to me? This is how normal people live?
Fast forward two months and I’ve had my appointment with the ‘specialist’. Whatever she did was the exact opposite of good and I left in more pain that I had gone to her in and a referral to a physical therapist. That was two days ago. Yesterday I called my doctor and explained that I was in significantly more pain than I had been previously. During the conversation I reminded her again that, due to my history, I was hesitant to go back to percocet, an opiate narcotic, and was open to new ideas.
We ended the call with me having been prescribed, by phone, a much stronger muscle relaxant with a year’s worth of refills and a new prescription for percocet.
Is it just me, or was that too easy? Am I being rewarded for my honesty? Is there an assumption out there that drug seeking addicts don’t confess to former addiction? Do I need to tell the world that addicts will say whatever it is they need to say, confess whatever they need to confess and do whatever they need to do to get their drugs?
For those of you who are concerned and may think that I’m confessing that I’m struggling with a percocet addiction, you may rest easy, that’s not the case. I’m not writing this for me, because I’m afraid of falling, I’m writing this because not everyone has the support system I do, and, certainly, not everyone is as diligent as I try to be.
Most of all, I’m writing this because I wonder, is our country even aware of our culture of addiction?