Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Dangers Of Prescription Pain Killers: A Tribute To Brenda Jones

This is by far, the hardest post I've ever wrote.  I've tried to start it off and on, over the past few hours and each time my eyes would fill with tears to where everything just looked like a blurry mess.  Finally, I took a deep breathe, audibly exhaled, and I've started writing.  Dear Lord, please help me get through this post, and give me the correct words to properly convey my thoughts and message.  This is a subject I've briefly touched on a few times over the past four years.  Now, I need to write indepth about it.

Meet Brenda Jones.  Brenda was a fellow chronic pain sufferer, and a cancer warrior.  She was one of us. More than that, Brenda was my friend.  A true friend.  She honestly worried and cared not only about me, but about any one she knew that may be suffering along with her.  I can't tell you how many times Brenda would comment on a facebook post of mine, making sure I was ok and praying that a current pain flare would quickly end for me.  She'd send me messages off and on, checking in on me, as I did her.  I've never known a person to just ....love ....more than Brenda did.  

What mattered the most to Brenda?  Her family.  I cannot begin to tell you how much her son Jordan, her daughter-in-law Natalie, and the apple of her eye, her granddaughter Koralee meant to her.  I just thought that I'm a proud grandma.  I've honestly never seen anyone more proud of a grandchild, than Brenda was of Koralee.  Just look at the pride beaming from her eyes, the very first time she held this little beauty:

Brenda had one secret from me though.  She was addicted to prescription pain killers.  Brenda passed away, 2 days ago from an accidental overdose.  Her son Jordan, walked into her bedroom and found her. Brenda absolutely would not have wanted her son, to have to find her like that.  She didn't want to die.  She wanted the very same thing that you and I want.  She just wanted to be pain-free.  

This whole incident has taken my breath away.  It's left me crying off and on.  It's made me angry.  Most of all, it's scared me.  It scares me, because it just as easily could have been you, or me.  I read of Brenda's passing, sitting in the lobby of my pain management clinic, waiting to be taken to the operating room to have neves burned in my neck under sedation.  -Anything to try and relieve the pain in at least one area of my body.  Anything, right?!  Most of us would give anything to try and live a half-way pain free life.  To have a half-way normal life again.  That's why many of us take prescription drugs.

Brenda's son Jordan, and beautiful daughter-in-law Natalie

No one who truly suffers from a chronic pain condition, sets out to be a drug seeker.  No one who truly suffers from a chronic pain condition thinks that they'll become addicted to prescription meds.  To be honest, most that are addicted, probably don't even realize that they have developed a problem.  This blogs facebook page, has over 17,000 followers and I have had people say to me on the page, "I'll never become addicted to narcotics, because I'm not a druggy.  I just need something to help me function without so much pain."  I've had people get angry at me, when I've responded to a question on whether someone should try to get pain meds or not, that in my opinion a person should hold off as long as possible.  

Over the years, I've had doctors ask me if I wanted narcotics.  I always told each and every doctor that I wanted to wait for as long as possible, before starting narcotics.  Would my life have been easier and more normal if I had accepted them?  It sure would have been.  I didn't though, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I've hated medicine all my life.  Even as a teenager my mom would fight me to get me to even take a Tylenol.  Secondly, the thought of addiction scared me.  Thirdly, I knew that if I took a certain pain pill for so long, it would lose it's effectiveness and I'd have to be upped on the dosage.  Eventually, I'd top out on the dosage and have to move up the tier to a stronger narcotic.  Again, it'd lose it's effectiveness.  This would be a cycle that would continue and eventually I'd be out of any pain killer that would work.  -There's only so many out there.  The illnesses I have, I will have for the rest of my life.  I didn't want to be in my 50's, and already have run the gammit of drugs available to help me.  They say that Fibro isn't progressive, but I beg to differ.  My symptoms have worsened in severity over the years.  My doctor even told me last year, "Amy, your health is declining.  I can not only see it physically, but also the toll it's taking on you mentally."

Grandma's Pride & Joy

According to DrugAbuse.gov, around 116 million people suffer from Chronic Pain, in the United States.  (you can read the full article by clicking HERE)  PainMed.org says "Prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana."  

They also say "From 1998 to 2008, the proportion of all substance abuse treatment admissions age 12 or older who reported any pain reliever abuse increased more than fourfold."

Along with this sobering statistic: "Prescription painkillers are considered a major contributor to the total number of drug deaths. In 2007, for example, nearly 28,000 Americans died from unintentional drug poisoning, and of these, nearly 12,000 involved prescription pain relievers."

A new report came out today, stating that singer Prince's death was confirmed to be an accidental overdose of Fentanyl.  Article About Prince

This past February, after carefully considering everything for years, I went ahead and started on narcotics.  I take one 5-325mg of Norco a day.  It truly does help my pain, but every single day I have the "what if I get addicted" thought in the back of my head.  I have the "what happens when these stop working" question lingering in the background.  My beautiful Brenda's tragedy has me scared.  It hurts me beyond belief.  Never, ever think that you're above this.  Never think that this can't happen to you, because it can.  

I want you to read part of Jordan's announcement of his sweet mother's passing:  "Addiction is powerful, no matter what you are addicted to. I hope that if anything positive can come from the passing of my mother, it is that prescription medication addiction is no different than any other drug. If you are unable to accept you have a problem and do not receive help, the end result is the same. Death is unavoidable,and comes in many different ways. However prescription drug addiction may seem not as bad as meth or cocaine, but as a direct reflection on my mother's life I have watched her die slowly, a little more everyday. So if you know someone suffering from this, try to get them help. I ask you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not be an enabler! No matter what you have to do, regardless of the friendship you may lose or how mad the person may be when told no, DO NOT ENABLE THEM! "

How eloquently, yet truthful and heartbreaking is that plea?  That could be your son or daughter making that post.  Please, please if you even think you may have developed an addiction to your prescription meds, seek help.  Please don't be embarrassed.  Doctors know that those who start taking meds for chronic pain aren't out to try and become addicted.  It just happens sometimes.  Please, don't EVER take more than what's prescribed to you.  If you're in so much pain that you just can't handle it, make a trip to the E.R. or your doctor's office and let a physician try to get it under control for you.  Don't take a chance.  Your life is more valuable than you realize.  If you think you may have a problem, here's a national toll-free hotline number that you can call for help:  National Toll-free number: 1-800-821-4357

Koralee, BB may not be able to hold you in her arms or smooch your precious cheeks anymore, but she'll always be with you and looking out for you.  You were her whole world, precious girl.  Everytime you see a butterfly, know that BB is there with you.  

To my sweet, sweet Brenda ....you are finally free from the pain.  I know you're with us and know the sadness we feel.  My life is truly better from knowing you, Sweetheart.  I'll never forget you.  Fly-high being pain free, Angel.