Citation: Anonymous. "Chronic Pain and Difficult Docs: An Experience with Hydrocodone & Tramadol (exp79653)". Erowid.org. Dec 31, 2012. erowid.org/exp/79653
I'm about 50 years old. I've been on prescribed hydrocodone APAP 10/325, 'up to 90 per month, not to exceed 4 per day' for over 4 years. I want to talk about my long term (>6 years) experience with this medicine and how it has generally helped me. I also want to talk about the different doctors I have been to and how I was treated by each one, and other medicines and treatments offered by them. I am not going to name names. I am not a recreational drug user. I hope this account of the last 4 years, which is rather long and does take a few tangents, will be interesting, amusing, or useful.
As I have aged, injuries due to 2 and 4 wheel motorsports and a lot of daily heavy lifting from 20+ years ago have come back to haunt me. The disabilities from this are also the reasons I have become overweight. I am still very strong, but it always hurts to move.
I have over the years worked my way into what might be called a professional position and I have a lot of responsibilities. The pain got to the point where I could not concentrate on my work, even though I mostly push a desk and overwork a computer all day. I hurt in any position, sitting or standing. I work in high tech and have to be on the ball. Being on salary instead of hourly pay means I go home when exhausted or when the work is done. I am sure this is very boring to most readers but it is background which I feel is important.
When I first sought help for the pain, my 'family doctor' would not prescribe any pain relief and referred me to a 'sports medicine doctor'. He prescribed some hydrocodone, MRIs, and in the end told me to come back when I wanted surgery and that he could not continue the pain relief therapy. Prognosis for surgery was grim, with a 25% chance of improvement, 50% chance of no result, 25% chance of it being made worse. Not worth the significant risks of surgery in my reasoning. I never went back, not with those odds.
I then sought a pain clinic where a friend of mine was being treated. He had received an implant to 'zap' his spinal nerves and mask some of the pain, and also was prescribed hydrocodone and another pill that blocks nerve impulses. The implant was interesting because it came with a remote control. That pain doctor gave me Ultram at first because he did not really want to prescribe a narcotic. It worked decently but it gave me horrible nightmares because it is (I believe) also somewhat like an antidepressant, which I cannot take. Can't take things that mess with serotonin. So then we switched to Vicodin.
But to continue the story: That doctor gave up his pain practice to treat varicose veins via laser. I had to find another pain clinic.
The next clinic I went to, one in a very prestigious hospital, had advertised on-line that 'we accommodate a wide variety of conditions and treatments'. OK, well all I wanted to do was continue my present treatment because it was working for me. I ended up with two doctors from India that I could hardly understand and whom did not seem to be listening to me.
These folks not only declined to continue my treatment, but wanted to change it all up and require me to waste a lot of time doing biofeedback sessions at home with their software, going to psychological counseling, and going to physical therapy. None of this on Saturdays of course.
So now we are talking about my 10 hour work day having added to it, or more likely being interrupted by, running all over town for unnecessary psych counseling and physical therapy which has not done me any good on these old injuries, which have become diseases in their own rights - stage 4 arthritis and spinal stenosis. The damage is done, and it's OLD damage. Then I get to sit for 2 hours at home doing biofeedback. No thanks! But don't cry for me Argentia, I've done exciting things a lot of people never have.
More on these two quacks - the weirdest things about these foreign doctors is that instead of prescribing what worked, one simple pill, they gave me a cocktail of 4 drugs that would do more harm than good.
I started having nightmares, muscle pain, confusing thoughts, and headaches, and discovered one of the drugs was a generic kind of Ultram. Another was an antidepressant, a third was, I forget what, but was, in the very warning sheet for doctors to read, contraindicated when an antidepressant was being used, due to the risk of seizures and death and also had a warning about elevating ocular pressure and macular separation (blindness). Yeah I should have read all the sh*t sheets first.
Beware quacks! I was really pissed. I sent them a Fedex overnight with a stern and abrupt letter terminating my association with them as well with my advice that they should take their own poison. I honestly think these people were experimenting on me with new drugs, a common practice by drug companies, subsidizing clinics. Beware any drug where in the physician material it says anything like 'it is not well understood how this works.'
A couple weeks later, being in some agony again, I found another pain clinic in an equally prestigious hospital. Not that the prestige matters, just to illustrate that it may NOT matter - depends on the doctor, the programs, and any drug companies behind it.
I had always gotten copies of my MRIs and x-rays. I took them in to this doc also. He had me do some test on the computer, not sure why, perhaps it seemed like a test to see if I was thinking straight. It measured how long it took me to connect a bunch of different colored numbered dots. He listened to my guts to see if they were making the right sounds.. apparently this is one way to tell if an otherwise normal appearing person is under the influence of too much Vicodin already (heavy drug users beware, heh). He also discussed my prior treatments and the MRIs, and decided to continue my treatment since it had been working.
About the long term use:
When I first started taking the hydrocodone, there was a strong high and some confusion, but I dealt with it because it made it so I did not care about the pain. Was rather pleasant actually. After a few weeks, that went away for the most part leaving me free to do my work without the constant distraction from the pain and the strangeness of the mental effects. Point is I have been able to keep working. That is why I take the hydrocodone. I need to keep working.
About people's humorous prejudices:
A person in the office has had numerous surgeries on her back. She is still in gross pain and often has to miss days but considers taking pain pills to be a stigma. I don't understand this reasoning. I'll bet she takes cholesterol and diabetes pills. OOH! Let's get out the pitchforks and torches! Another person in the office takes oxycontin in small doses due to a bad motorcycle accident. That person does his job well.
About side effects:
The major lingering effect of the long term use of hydrocodone is that I tend to want to smoke more cigarettes than I did before. I do enjoy smoking but I realize that smoking more is not a good thing.
There is occasional constipation - I must remember to lay off the cheeses and drink plenty of water.
I am more sensitive to dehydration - so in the 100 degree summer months, I got to watch this real close.
I do not believe I am addicted to Vicodin. If I stop taking it, my experience includes a return to awareness of severe pain at the injury sites. This causes me to not want to get up and get moving, and the pain distracts me from work. I have stopped taking it for a few days at a time. There were no real withdrawal symptoms, or, I felt as if there were none.
According to my family doctor, there have been no problems with organs such as liver or kidneys, most likely due to the small amount I consume. He warns this may change as I age further, and I might have to go to another type of medication.
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