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Dependent on, not addicted to, Oxycontin
Every morning I get out of bed slowly and shuffle off to the bathroom to take my pile of pills, including a pain medication that has been vilified to the extent that I shudder to speak its name (to borrow a little from Harry Potter).
As I swallow, I try to imagine the pills going to work, each a little trooper off to fight its battle. One, to my bladder, to ward off potential acid attacks on the surrounding war-torn tissue. Two, to my central nervous system, trying to head off wayward signals that tell my muscles to spasm or my skin to feel as if it has caught fire. Three, to my thyroid gland, urging it to pump out that much-needed hormone.
Last but not least is the pill that brings me back to the life I once lived as the good mother; loving wife; strong, capable working woman; and creative, talented artist.
The pill that causes so much controversy is Oxycontin, vilified because it is a prescription drug abused by addicts seeking to get high. Oxycontin lends itself to abuse because crushing the time-release tablets allows the user to get the full impact of the medication at one time. In pharmacy thefts, Oxycontin is often the specific target.
Unfortunately, this has had the effect of pharmacies limiting supply and doctors being unwilling to write prescriptions for the drug.
I read once that the difference between addiction and dependence is that addicts need the drugs to escape their lives and patients whose bodies are dependent on drugs need them to live their lives. It is so true. For the pain patient, there is no high attached to that much-needed medicine.
Without my pain pills, I spend my days in bed, and I am unable to take care of myself, my family or my clients. Without them, I feel like I've been hit by a freight train.
With them, I may be able to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store and a load of laundry before I get to work on my latest art commission.
What ailments do I have that have wreaked so much havoc in my life? The major ones are fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis. So many people like myself suffer not just with pain but with prejudice because they rely on pain medication to get through their days -- looked down upon like addicts trying to get a fix every time we need a new prescription.
I know of so many who are not as lucky as I am. I have a team of wonderful pain management specialists who are understanding and never judgmental. They are, however, cautious, and take many safeguards, including random drug tests, to make sure patients are taking their medicines as prescribed.
I am happy to do it. I take that cup to the restroom with a smile, knowing that these safeguards help to keep the medicines in the hands of those who need them to live their life and out of the hands of those who need them to escape their life.
Jenny Greiner is an artist, owner of a pet portrait business and the stay-at-home mother of two teenage daughters. She formerly was an architect and art teacher. She urges readers to support the 2009 National Pain Care Policy Act, S660, currently in the U.S. Senate.
My Turn is a forum for readers to recount an experience or air an opinion related to health or fitness. Submissions are subject to editing and become the property of The Times.