My name is Jessica, and I'm not going to shut up anymore.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I heart percocet.

Oh yes I did.

I did say it: I love Percocet.

But before visions of Lindsay Lohan in rehab start swirling in your head, please let me explain why I heart this controversial, potentially-addictive, prescription pain medication.

I’ve been so excited to write this post. Partly because it’s controversial and partly because I’m mad. I’m mad because people like myself who suffer from chronic pain from legitimate health conditions are constantly treated like drug addicts. You see, here’s how I explain my experience with chronic pain:

First, it can be debilitating to the point where you can’t focus, can’t do your job, can’t function at all like a normal human being. And secondly, often times the onset of more moderate pain only leads to more severe pain. Which makes people like myself freak out when we start feeling those sharp pangs of pain; automatically I start worrying that I’ll end up in the ER later. If I am fortunate enough to have a prescription on-hand and if I’ve tried every other  OTC drug I can think of, then I take a pill. A (singular) pill. And typically, if the pain is bad enough, Percocet allows for me to be able to function, to re-join society. I liken it to feeling like negative 10 (-10). I liken the “high” like going for the positive 10 (+10) effect, which is not what I’m trying to achieve. Taking a pill when I’m in so much pain brings me back to zero, to a neutral position. The goal, for me, is not to take it for the high, but to take it for relief. To get back to neutrality. To function.

Which is why I love prescriptions of Percocet; they help me regulate severe (note: I did not say mild or moderate pain) bouts of pain that I cannot control by other means of prescription medication or pain management skills. The down side is, we’re told every day that opiates cause addiction. That I will become addicted to taking Percocet and I’m not to be trusted to take the drug responsibly. That I'm a social deviant because I know that percocet works for me, and I ask for it. Also, I'm allergic to Hydrocodone (Vidcodin), so I often times have to skip levels of pain medication and go right for the big Kahuna--my beloved Perkies. When I do this, I am often met with looks of disbelief and automatic questioning: "What do you mean you're allergic? What happens to you when you take Vicodin?" It makes me feel worse. And Percocet makes me feel better.

Please note that I completely understand why it's important to be wary of opiates. I’ve had family members and friends who have struggled with addition to prescription pain killers, and IT'S NO JOKE.  It’s a serious problem. You can lose your job. Lose your home. Lose custody of your children. Take your own life. The dark side of pain killers, when abused, can cause various health issues and, in some cases, can actually incite chronic pain which is why many doctors are hesitant to prescribe pain medication specifically for patients who exhibit only symptoms of chronic pain with no acute signs of disease. I, too, agree with medical practitioners who believe it best to treat chronic pain with non-addictive pain medications and ONLY using Percocet when all other options have been exhausted.

But we’re not all addicts. No. We're not. All. Addicts.

I love Percocet because it helps me come out of a pain coma. I love Percocet because it's cheaper to take one pill than to pay a $100 co-pay at the hospital. I love Percocet because I don’t like the side effects when it does make me feel a little loopy. (I prefer to be lucid, sharp, engaged.)

On a side note, I am addicted to Honey Nut Cheerios, carbonated water, and Dunkin Donuts coffee.

After almost a year of being prescribed this medication on-and-off, I’ve been able to regulate the exact dosage, take it only when needed, and resist taking it when I don’t need it. Currently my Dr. and I found that if I take Tramadol HCL (50 mg) for break-through pain 1x/day with 2 Aleve, this regimen works like a charm. But the dark underbelly of this story is the fact that I did often need to take Percocet for a prolonged period of time due to chronic pain and a large ovarian cyst. And when you have chronic pain like this, you begin to feel like you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s horrible! A lot of times it hurt so bad, I could hardly breathe. It hurt to breathe! And the part that I don't want to admit is that I did undergo the side effects of withdrawal when the bouts of pain subsided. But I didn't ask for more meds when I didn't need them. I didn't say "yes" when my Dr. offered to write me a refill.

Does having side effects after medicating myself for a month make me an addict? Does this make me a deviant because I stopped taking meds because my pain went away and I, in turn, came down with a terrible migraine and nausea? Was the headache and nausea from the endometriosis? I will never know.

But what I do know is that pain medication helped me. It helped me regain some control over my body which had been besieged by a disease that I could not control.

And for that, I love Percocet. Today, tomorrow, and forever.