Posted 11/18/2014 3:40 AM (GMT -7)
When I was originally diagnosed with cancer, doctors tried to control the pain, but at 30-50 mg total morphine ER a day I was having unacceptable side effects, so there just wasn't a right dose for me and I was in constant pain. My doctor said, "that's a pretty low dose you're on..." but I just couldn't tolerate more.
Weeks pass, and a few days ago I'm up to 200 mg total morphine ER per day plus neurontin 1200 mg, as prescribed by a newer PM specialist, but, knock on wood, my body must have adjusted or something because I'm almost pain-free and the side effects are minimal, no brain fog, no drowsiness.
I went to my doctor yesterday and after I told him the amounts, he said, "That's a pretty high dose you're on..."
The look on my face must have said it all, because he immediately added, "But you seem to be doing well and you said you aren't having side effects, so..."
So, yeah, there's a stigma and always pressure to take less (which is not a bad thing if less works, but...). A suspicion of drug-seeking is always in the back of a lot of minds, I think. At my previous PM cllnic, which specializes in all PM issues and not just cancer, they were particularly into that. They only started behaving more respectfully when they started thinking of me as that surprisingly-healthy-looking cancer patient, rather than that injury patient who barely needs a cane--but what if I'd had an actual injury rather than cancer?
Also, I think a lot of people misunderstand that drugs for this level of pain, if they're working right, do not make you high. I've never done recreational drugs, but I've never enjoyed one minute of side effects from prescribed drugs--it's always yuck get that away from me, never again, or, wow that makes me feel almost like myself again and I barely know I took it, let's schedule it at that level.
I try to avoid now saying how much I'm taking daily to nurses or doctors, unless necessary, because the amount is what scares people. If possible, I try to just discuss symptoms for a bit first to show I'm "normal,"--or at least as normal as I ever get, which is kinda weird to begin with, LOL, so that might not actually be helping! But you know what I mean. And then talk about the amount, so they can see it's not affecting me except in positive way.
But I have the advantage that there won't be any life after pain medicine for me, so there's no ethical reason to get me off drugs, even though I'm surely physically "addicted" to the chemicals and even emotionally "addicted" to this feeling of being normal rather than suffering.
For those who might have a future life without drugs if an injury is eventually healed or a new treatment comes along or who knows, I can't imagine the pressure to constantly get off the absolutely necessary drugs that are truly helping you function right now.
(Edited to fix typo--just realized it should be "pretty low dose," not "pretty lose dose" in the first paragraph. Oops.)