Hi everyone. First I will give you a short background of myself. I am married to the best woman ever and have two amazing kids. I love the LORD and need HIM really bad right now! I am somewhat of a known athlete, well to the people who follow the sport I am involved in. I live in a nice nice area and make a very good living. I am not telling you this to brag, however just to illustrate how pathetic my story is. I am 39 years old and in the twilight of my career, which has been incredible. I have traveled the world and been to some neat places. OK, that is enough of that now here comes my pathetic story:
I have suffered from HORRIBLE back pain since I was in my early teens. This was when I still in the amateur portion of my career and doing mostly contests. While I was never the greatest contest surfer, I did pretty good during the free surf photog sessions. I would down a fist full of Advil every few hours during competitions. It seemed to work OK. Many docs and trainers offered pain killers and I said "NO WAY," terrified of becoming addicted.
Leap to when I turned 33. The pain was unbearable and I went to see a well known back surgeon. He had operated on my older brother who has a worse back than me. I put me on pain meds and we tried a minor surgery in 2006. It seemed to work and I watched how much medicine I was taking. During my rehab, I popped the discs in my lower back again. I had the bulges shaved off but now the rest of the discs came out. I got rushed back to the surgeon and he said it was best to do a three level fusion. He also thought my athletic career was done. To me this was horrific news. I went with the surgery and was laid up for a year. That entire time I had to take pain meds as back surgery was no joke. Originally I was on morphine but I asked for norco instead since it seemed to work before. I was terrified of morphine. I was on it when I was in the hospital for close to a week after surgery.
Now in 2008 I was back in the water and finished most of the intense rehab for the injury. I still needed the meds as I was determined to still perform for my sponsors. I did not think I was doing anything wrong with meds as I took them the way I was instructed. I did build up a tolerance so during a pain spike I took a little bit more to get some relief. This went on until 2011, however there were times I would stop taking the meds and felt horrible. I didnt get "high" from them but they did help dull the pain. During this year I started to get terrible headaches. I would puke everywhere and the pain was a 9-10 easy. My trainer told me to see neurologist and I did. I was open about the fact that I took norco for my back and other aches (I had broken my arm and knee cap, during a skate boarding accident). He said OK well try that for your headaches. I did but I got the headaches pretty often and it caused me to burn through my meds too quick. I went back to neuro doc and he put me on dilaudid and one of the oxy drugs. I did not like those at all. They made me too woozy and I could not keep them down. So he gave me separate prescription for norco. Me being an id**t I did not know this was a big big no no.
So I have no issues with the pharmacy and never went through anything too quickly. I was weening down off of the norcos, probably taking 2 a day (one in morning and one at night). Then 2012 I began to feel a horrible pain in my neck and it ran down my left arm. Knowing back pain like I do, I knew something was wrong but didn't want to confront the idea that my back was now bad again and in a new place. I was determined to go out on my shield and covered the pain by taking more medicine. BIG ERROR by me. Well in January my wife saw me struggling to get out of bed and screaming in pain. She then made me an appointment with my surgeon again. It turned out that I had two blown discs and a torn disc. The torn one I guess was not an issue as it had plenty of room still around the nerves. The others were bad, very bad. Now since I increased my intake my tolerance had gone though the roof. I was now taking between 7-8 pills a day!!!! Just writing that kills me. It took most of the pain away but I did a poor job communicating this with my doctor, another jackass move by me.
I went to go pick up my refill and the pharmacy for the first time ever said "no." It was too soon I guess. First time this had ever this happened. Not only did the pharmacist not care that I was in agony he made me feel like a d*****g. I felt like booking myself into jail. For some reason it really threw me for a loop. It made me super depressed. I told my wife I need to get off these pills. She did tell me she was worried because I had gone through them so quick. I still had some pills left to get me through to my next doc appointment. I have never in my life felt so ashamed to be me. Was I an addict??? I knew I was dependent on them, but I never took them for fun I thought. I was so ashamed that I had trouble talking to my doc. He gave more medicine and the pain was out of control. He also scheduled a minor procedure for me in about a month from the appointment. I was obsessed with thoughts that I was some junkie. Never had I EVER thought about this before until that pharmacist told me he was not going to refill my stuff.
So I burned through my meds too quick, but I remembered I had two bottles from my neuro at the pharmacy ready to be picked up, so I went that route. I burned through those to keep my pain in check. Then the day before the procedure my doc called and asked if I needed anything. I asked if I could get a little bit more medicine for the weekend. He said OK and called them in. The same pharmacist told my surgeon that I had another doc prescribing me the same med and that I had recently picked up that small bottle. So my doc, not happy with me, called back and said he couldn't refill my bottle. WOW now I really felt like a low life. I began to read about stopping cold turkey and yikes that sounded like a nightmare. My two doctors talked and my neuro agreed to fill my bottle to get me through until my appointment with the surgeon in a week. By this time I wished I was someone else. I am so ashamed to be me, how did this happen???? How did I allow this to happen?????? So I don't know what will happen when I see my back doc, I hope he believes me that it was an honest mistake and allow me to taper off these demons. So far at this point last week I was taking 8 a day and I am down to 5-6 a day. I hurt a lot, but I have to get off of these things. I am anxiety riddled and irritable. I wish I could kick my own ass for letting this happen. With the pain I was in I didn't know what to do.
So that is my opiate nightmare story. It has to stop. I will deal with my pain once, hopefully, I taper off of these. I feel like a total d*****g and have nothing but self hate right now. I feel like I have shamed my wife and kids. I PRAY that we all win our battle, I really do. GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU
Thank you for sharing your story. Please try not to be ashamed. There are literally millions of us with the same story as you. I am happily married, a mom of 3, a professional. I also am not a "junkie" type. I wish you all the best, and would love to hear your successes as you go. By suggestion would be to be open and honest with your doctor, as you have been. Try to get into a pain clinic. The hard thing for many of us is that we start with legitimate chronic pain. Then we get physically dependent and finally, addicted. You can turn what you feel as shame into pride. Prove to your wife and children that you can overcome anything. Be a wonderful example. As an athlete, you have put your body through a lot. Withdrawing will be far less pain than the sport you love. I believe in you. Stay positive, stay strong, and keep up posted!
I would never recommend this to anyone else, but you. If you are in that severe discomfort, get on methadone maintenance. You can stay on the rest of your life if you want, I am off of it myself, after almost 20 years on. This is my choice, but pain was not my reason for getting on methadone. A junkie is a junkie, no justifications.