BY NICOLE BURROWS
My name is Nicole I live in Florida and I am 54 years old and I have chronic pain. I suffer from Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. At age 13 I was in a car accident. In that accident I collapsed a lung, broke my left leg in 2 places, my right wrist, some ribs and broke all the bones in my face except my bottom jaw. The accident also caused arthritis in both my hips and damage to my lower spine. My chronic pain journey has been long, and it isn’t over yet.
FIBROMYALGIA and PAIN MANAGEMENT
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 36. I was on Loritab for ten years through my rheumatologist. Then the laws began changing in Florida.
When laws started to change, my rheumatologist stopped prescribing any pain support. He told me that a new license was required to prescribe pain pills and he did not want to get one. I suffered without pain pills for two years. Finally, at 48, I was referred to a pain management doctor.
That doctor would prescribe hydrocodone but pushed spinal injections first. I got one. I thought my heart was going to explode. My blood pressure shot up and I refused any more. He was probably the rudest doctor I have ever seen. He would taunt and make fun of me. I left.
Before I went to another pain management doctor, I saw 2 different chiropractors. The first, I saw for about a year. I followed her plan: 3-days a week, then 2-days a week, then once a week. The pain was not as bad, but she was always pushing me to see other types of doctors. She wasn’t able to manage my pain completely and couldn’t figure out what else to do. I could not afford to keep seeing her. The second chiropractor I went to, I also saw for about a year. After seeing my MRI’s and X-Rays, he said he could help some, but could not fix me because, in his words, “I was broken.” The pain continued despite adjustments, massage, a Tens unit and laser treatments. He then referred me to a different pain management doctor who he said was very caring and would help me.
CHRONIC PAIN MANAGEMENT, ROUND TWO
In 2017, I went to the doctor he referred to me. He said right up front that long term opioids were off the table. He said injections or nothing. I refused, explaining how bad a reaction I had the first time I had tried it. He gave me a prescription for 30 hydrocodone 5/325. One a day!!
KRATOM FOR CHRONIC PAIN
Kratom is sourced from a tree in Southeast Asia. It is neither approved or banned by FDA. In varying doses it is used for pain control or as a stimulant. I have been using Kratom for about a year. It helps a lot with my pain. So, it has been the one thing I have been able to use for my pain, that at least helps. I find that in the morning it helps a lot, but in the afternoon, the pain gets worse and sometimes, it doesn’t even touch my pain.
GOOD DOCTOR, BAD PHARMACY
Just recently, I was referred to a doctor by someone on twitter, that lives in the same town I do. She is very caring and has been vocal about her struggles, trying to help people with chronic pain without getting arrested. The first time I saw her, she prescribed 28 hydrocodone 7.5/325’s a day for 2 weeks. When I went to the pharmacy, the pharmacy tech said, “So, you live here, but you went to a different county to see a doctor?” This doctor is 20 miles from me. The pharmacist told me that my insurance only covered one week without prior authorization from the doctor. If I took the one week that the insurance paid for, I would completely lose the 2nd week. I just paid cash for the prescription.
My next visit to the doctor, she only prescribed 28 pills for the month due to my problems with the insurance. So less than one a day.
CHRONIC PAIN: NO END IN SIGHT
I now spend half of my day on the couch on a heating pad, exhausted due to the pain. It seems the longer I go without relief, the greater the pain gets. The greater the pain, the less mobility I have. Kratom has helped but it is not enough. Like many others who live in pain, I am hoping the next stop on my pain journey will provide a real solution.
EDITOR’S NOTE: There is an open invitation by the FDA to hear from chronic pain patients to help craft policy going forward. Learn more about that here.
Nicole Burrows is self-employed in a home services company. She used to work full-time, but now spends the majority of her day fighting for chronic-pain-patient’s rights on Social Media. She lives at home with her husband of 27 years, their 4 dogs and 2 hedgehogs. Soon they will fulfill their dream of living in an RV full-time and travel the country. Twitter: @nicoleinpain