Living with Chronic Pain: When I run out of pain meds, I become a zombie from The Walking Dead.
I have taking my pills down to an art.
As a patient living with chronic pain, I’m always prepared for sneak attacks. I bought little plastic bags for my daily portions, which helps me shove a week’s supply into my purse. My system is great and helps me treat my chronic pain no matter where I am.
I need to be prepared. By the time I make it to the office each morning, I’m feeling pain. Then, I just grab a bag and a Gatorade and about fifteen minutes later, I’m normal and functioning.
Until I run out of pain pills.
I take Tramadol, an opioid which is classified as a controlled substance. That classification requires me to get a new prescription every time I need it to be filled. Normally, I’m prepared.
But, every few months, I will forget to request a refill and I’ll run out. The result is similar to The Walking Dead except I’m the only Zombie. Instead of wanting human flesh, I just want to get rid of my headache and the fires blazing in every single joint.
You might think I am exaggerating.
Today is Day Three after forgetting to request my refill. I have been in severe pain for three days. To cope with the pain, I am lying in my office on carpet that just might be older than me. At least, there aren’t any mice today.
Sitting in a chair is just too painful. That’s what so many people don’t realize about psoriatic arthritis. Simple, everyday tasks like sitting are incredibly difficult and cause too much discomfort.
How many ways can your body hurt you?
I ask myself that question every time I suffer in pain. I think about what it means that a manufactured pill determines whether I can sit, stand, walk or run. And I worry that an employee crunching numbers for an insurance company has the power to determine whether my access to the treatments will continue.
I’ve been on the same pain meds for four years. Occasionally, I will attempt a new pill. I try new medications in the hope that I might possibly find a better treatment for my psoriatic arthritis.
To replace my existing treatment, the new medication needs to meet my high standards, Most of all, it needs to let me function without the painful side effects.
I’d like to think that someday I won’t need any more pills. I’m hopeful that medical innovation will deliver a cure. But days like today – when nothing eases the discomfort or soothes the pain – I see clearly that psoriatic arthritis is an integral part of who I am.
It may never go away.