By Mary Cremer, Guest Columnist
I have chronic pain from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Chiari Malformation, a condition in which my brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. I have also had CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) Leaks. Chiari is not well understood and Ehlers Danlos causes constant pain.
Since my symptoms started in 2012, I have had three brain surgeries and two spinal cord surgeries. I take opioids for pain and muscle relaxers to reduce the muscle cramps and spasticity.
The meds reduce the pain to a more tolerable level. Without them I would not be able to work full time as a secretary. Working is extremely difficult, but I take pride in using meds to help better my situation.
In 2016, I had my fifth surgery and finally had some relief. In a little over a month I tapered off all medications. It was not hard, because the pain had let up temporarily. Last summer and fall were good, but then the winter brought back the pain and other symptoms. I went back on opioids and muscle relaxers. I continue to search for help and work full time.
I am still able to get medication, but I am worried about the future. I am afraid of having back spasms causing my brain to herniate again. If this happens, it will mean a major reconstruction surgery.
I feel if chronic pain sufferers don't speak up for themselves, we will lose our pain control options. People that don't have chronic pain do not understand what it is like to live like this. The media is making this out to be war, when it's not.
I want people to know that, although I am a drug user, I am NOT a drug abuser. I function as an active and productive member of society. Without the opioids and the muscle relaxers, I could not work. I would be at a loss as to how I would live. I could see how people would turn to street drugs or suicide.
Lawmakers continue to impose their ignorance to "save people," but they need to keep in mind that not all users are abusers. When you think about people using pain medication, consider people like me – a taxpayer, a mother and a wife. Many of us are working. Taking our pain meds away will only result in higher disability rates, street drugs increasing and more suicides.
I want to remain a valuable member of society. Please remember me.
Mary Cremer lives with her family in Missouri.
Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to: editor@PainNewsNetwork.org.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.