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When All Else Fails: Pain Management with Opiods

When someone lives with chronic debilitating headaches, opioids are the last line of defense. After trying a gazillion preventives and abortives with no success, reducing the severity of the pain is worth potentially living in a drug haze.

However, many of those who do “cross over” to opioids describe feeling like they’re treated like drug addicts and that their docs don’t prescribe enough meds each month to cover all their painful days. They also worry that maybe the doctor is right — maybe they are drug addicts.

The stigma makes it hard to ask for drugs. Remember that if you are a chronic pain patient, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for meds to dull the pain. Quite simply, if you don’t get pain relief from less potent approaches, you should seek better relief.

Doctors will be cautious in prescribing opioids and may not do so on your first visit. It’s his or her job to keep you healthy — feeding a drug addiction isn’t healthy. It is frustrating but it is also safe. The doc doesn’t know you and doesn’t truly know what you’ve been through. They also have the government breathing down their necks, making sure the docs aren’t just supplying addicts with drugs.

I’m tackling this topic after giving a friend suggestions on how to convince her new pain specialist that she’s ready for opioids. The message reads like I am advising her to rely on manipulation to get her doc to prescribe narcotics! That’s not the approach I want to take, but it can be outrageously difficult to get the pain relief you need.

The topic is ginormous. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, so I’ll noodle on the topic some more. Think of this post as a sort of thesis statement for other posts on pain management and opioids.

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Hidden Headaches in the UK

One in four people keep their headaches a secret to avoid discrimination at work, according to findings of a study released yesterday. Headache UK, an alliance of five headache nonprofits in the UK, conducted a survey of more than 3,000 people who work and have debilitating headaches. Additional results include that 53% of respondents believe that their careers have been hindered by headache and 9% had been disciplined for missing work when they had headaches.

When I was working, my headaches weren’t a secret (I can’t keep anything a secret), but I did downplay how significant the pain was. I took out an overdraft on goodwill from my boss and stayed at that job longer than I should have. And I wonder how many people believed how debilitating my headaches truly were.

Is there a happy medium between laying it all out and being secretive? Is it possible to be a effective employee when you have severe pain? How can we keep ourselves financially afloat when we can barely get out of bed?