I am a long-time sufferer of Crohns Disease. Diagnosed at the age of 12, I have had more than 10 operations in my 60+ years on this planet. I have less than 20% of the normal small bowel length left. I have a permanent Colostomy. That surgery in 1990 literally saved my life. It also changed my Lifetime Health Trajectory. (The same operation also removed my rectum. I tell people it’s why I’m such a nice guy; I had my asshole surgically removed.)
Re-Engineering My Body – 2012
After several years of an acutely Prolapsed Stoma, extreme discomfort and moderate related health issues, my colostomy was “re-engineered” in 2012. That operation produced the intended result, but it also left me with some pretty severe post-operative pain. I was referred to the hospital’s Pain Management department. They took me under their wing and began treating me.
Opioid Prescription – Opioid Addiction
They started me on fairly strong prescriptions for both oral Dilaudid tablets and Fentanyl patches. It took care of the pain but produced a pretty severe addiction too. The Pain Management doctors gradually increased my dosage over the next two years during which my tolerance increased and my dependence deepened.
The Trip Wire – 2014
In 2014 I walked through one of their many “Trip Wires”. I violated the terms of my “Pain Management Contract”. I was instantly cut off from receiving prescription Opioids. I didn’t stop needing the narcotics, in fact I was deeply addicted. As far as my body knew I was also in need of the narcotic’s pain relieving benefits. But the Pain Management doctors were unconcerned. From their perspective I was no longer a suitable patient. They turned me out into the cold with no redress and no support. I had gone from being “Patient” to “Worthless Drug Addict” instantly. And as an Addict I was someone they would not treat. Period. Full stop.
Opioid Relief for an “Opioid Addict”
Long story short, there is no relief for an Opioid Addict suddenly cut off cold-turkey. Generally healthy people can check into a “Detox Center” where restraints and fluid support are provided as they go through Opioid Withdrawal. The government web page lists the symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal as mostly minor and uncomfortable. After having gone through it first-hand, I can tell you it’s total bullshit.
During the early stages I suffered cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Around hour 24 I began to suffer from severe dehydration, involuntary muscle movements (tremors and spasms), intense body pain and hallucinations that were unbelievably intense. Finally after about 4 days of sheer hell, my symptoms began to lessen.
And then I fell into a coma …
Why Prescription Opioid Addicts go to Heroin
When a generally healthy person that is also addicted to Prescription Opioids is cut off cold-turkey, the discomfort and intense cravings they feel can push them out into the streets to obtain relief illegally. Because they are healthy-ish they can handle walking back alleys, arranging “drug deals” with shady characters, and finding ways to ante up the money needed to obtain relief.
Make no mistake, the cravings are intense. They force normally rational people to make decisions that are not only bad, they are flat out maniacal and sometimes even homicidal or suicidal.
What “Sick” Prescription Opioid Addicts Do
But when you are NOT generally healthy you should be able to visit your doctor and get medical support as your body goes through withdrawal. Note the two words “should be”. In today’s hyper-paranoid medical community, doctors are ruled by lawyers. The lawyers instruct their medical clients to immediately disconnect from anyone that might present legal problems. Even if the person is intensely ill and needs daily medical support. No patient is more clearly a “legal problem” than a newly created Drug Addict.
Like me …
Six Days Of Coma
The last thing I remember is rolling up on my side to vomit into a nearby pail. The next thing I remember after that is an evil, four-faced glowing Demon Bitch From Hell intent on killing me and stealing my life-force. After that were moments when, believing my wife and children were dead, I began screaming and sobbing uncontrollably. For six days I was mostly out cold. During the last day I started to have some terrifying peeks into pseudo-reality that I still remember today.
My wife later told me that after they brought me into the Emergency Room, the doctors were at first unwilling to treat me. They consulted my records and decided I’d ingested some illegal drug that was making me hallucinate. It took my wife and all three kids berating them for nearly 24 hours before they finally tested me for every known illegal substance. I came up clean. (DUH!)
Opioid Addicts are Evil Criminals!
I’d been in bed for 4 days going through intense withdrawal. During that time I couldn’t even get out of bed to pee or empty my colostomy bag. I couldn’t even stand up! How in the HELL would I get my hands on illegal hallucinogens? But it wasn’t until the doctors finally drug-tested me seven-ways-to-sunday that they were convinced to admit me for treatment. Up until that point they would have happily kicked me to the curb and allowed me to die.
Stop and think about that; I am NOT exaggerating! Licensed Medical Professionals, doctors who had taken a solemn oath to “Do no harm” were willing to KILL ME to protect themselves from legal complications.
The End of My Story … Sorta
It is now 3 years down the road from those hellish days in 2014. My disease has progressed to the point where my daily pain level is often beyond my tolerance. Every day is a battle to chew my lip hard enough, rub enough dirt on it and walk it off enough so that I can get to the bathroom on my own. My “doctors” have determined that while they are concerned about my pain level, they will not allow me any decent pain relief unless I’m an in-patient.
I have at least a few good years left in me. Do I want to spend it living in a medical facility? A “Rest Home”? A Hospice center for those about to die? Not really.
But do I want to live my last few years going through intense agony on an almost daily basis? No, not so much.
So what do I do? My doctors have told me I will not receive any decent pain control from them. They’re the “go to guys” in this area for almost all medical practitioners, so what they say controls doctors and practices not associated with their hospital. Lawyers certainly won’t talk to me because they already work for the hospital or they don’t want to risk their future income by going after the hospital.
So I do what I’ve always done in my nearly 50 years dealing with my illness: Refuse to give up, grit my teeth and keep going … and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.