I Am Not an Addict or a Criminal

By Emily Blankenship, Guest Columnist

I was healthy and rarely even took an aspirin until a bad car accident when I was 33 years old. I am now 60.

I have not had one day or moment without pain since the accident, but I’ve had many different doctors. All of them told me they will not prescribe pain meds strong enough to remove the pain completely. They would only give me something to lessen the pain so that I could function.

But I can't function! 

My life since the car accident has been one of horrible physical and emotional pain, lots of doctor visits, depression, and lots of pills. I now have fibromyalgia, diabetes, arthritis, and a long list of other medical conditions. I take 20 different pills and get 2 injections daily. 

I have been practically on my knees, crying and begging doctors for pain relief. I’ve also been in a hospital psych ward 5 or 6 times because I was suicidal. The doctors would still not help me.

They tell me to lose weight, walk for exercise, move more, try yoga, meditate, etc.  All of that is hard to do when you are in so much pain you can't get out of bed! 

I lost my regular life after the accident. Friends disappeared. I could not work. I can no longer do activities that I loved, like bowling, cross stitching and photography, because my hands shake too bad. I am isolated and depressed.

 EMILY BLANKENSHIP

EMILY BLANKENSHIP

My current doctor recently cut down my pain meds from 6 pills a day down to 3 pills. And now I must have my blood drawn for drug tests before the doctor will write a prescription for a refill. Crazy!  I am NOT an addict and NOT a criminal. I just want relief.

My doctor will only write pain med prescriptions for a 28-day supply, even though there are 30 or 31 days in a month. I run out of pain pills the last week of every month. No one should have to live this way. I am also required to have a doctor’s appointment every 2 months to talk about my pain before he will renew my prescriptions.

My experiences have led me to believe that the doctors do not believe chronic pain patients when we tell them we are in pain. Winter is the worst time for me. My pain levels are generally 8 or 9 in winter, even when I’m on pain meds. Summer is my best time, the pain levels can drop to a 3 or 4.

Yet even if I log all my daily pain levels and show it to my doctors, they act like I was just having a bad day.  One doctor actually said that to my face! 

My last three doctors made me sign a pain contract stating that if I ever go to another doctor and try to get pain meds that I will be dropped as a patient.  Scary thought. I have never done anything like that and have no intention of doing that, but the fact I had to sign a contract made me feel like a criminal or an addict.

I am in control of my actions. I am not an addict who will do anything for pills.

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Emily Blankenship lives in Oregon. She is a member of Chronic Illness Advocacy and Awareness Group (CIAGG), a Facebook support group for chronic pain and disability sufferers.

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.