As some of you may (or may not) know, I deal with a pretty significant level of chronic pain on a daily basis. I have damage to my spinal cord that leaves me pretty much immobile at least a few days a month...and "a few days" is a GOOD month. Luckily, I work for a company that, while I hate my job, has excellent benefits and they follow FMLA laws to a T. Otherwise, I likely would've been fired ages ago from the amount of time I have to miss on a regular basis.

I've recently started seeing a new pain management doctor, as most GP and orthopedic doctors now shy aware from prescribing powerful narcotics, lest I begin selling them on the side or start melting them down and injecting them or something. This new doctor has started me on a more powerful pain drug than what I was taking before, but at a very low level. It's that usual "start low and go up as needed" process, but it doesn't give me as much relief as the medication I was on before. Unfortunately, this low dose isn't enough to really make a dent in my pain unless I take 2+ at a time.

When you're only supposed to take 4 a day, but the relief only lasts a couple of hours, it's a bad time.

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This has combined with the worst pain month I've had in recent memory in a perfect storm of misery - I have another week before I'll have a refill written, but I'm now out of pain medication. This is the miserable wasteland that chronic pain sufferers dread. No relief in sight. OTC pain medications barely make a dent. Muscle relaxers are laughable. I'll only make it through the next few days by doubling up on my nerve pain medication and by taking way more naproxen + ibuprofen than is wise for my liver. I don't want to, but I effectively have no choice; I have to do something, or I'm complete incapacitated by continuous, unrelenting pain. I have to work, I have to bring in money.

So, as I wash my handful of ibuprofen down with a beer, I hope no one out there is experiencing this particular kind of hell right now but I know a few of you are. There is no choice but to push through the pain and put a smile on my face. In private, I can cry and rub my numb, burning legs, contort myself around a pillow to try to find relief, lay on the floor and put my feet up on the wall, soak in a hot tub until it gets cool and then refill it again. Rinse, repeat.

I wish there wasn't such a stigma in the US about narcotic pain killers. I wish doctors didn't decline to accept you as a patient, because they see "oxycontin" on your medications list and immediately disregard you as a pill-seeker. I wish you didn't have to feel shame when you refill your medications and the pharmacist gives you the side eye, like he knows a dirty little secret about you.

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I wish I could go back 4 years, before I got injured, and do it all again. But I can't, and so my future is likely: a string of ever-stronger pain medications that I will probably, eventually become addicted to; back surgery every 10 years to try to combat the ravages of arthritis that are already setting in, at the age of 27; always struggling with the question of if it's right and fair to become pregnant with a child that I desperately want, if they're only going to have a mother that lives half a life.

Sorry for the rambling, but I'm feeling very low today. This is another comorbid issue with chronic pain - the isolating misery that's only compounded by the pain. I feel terribly, terribly broken inside, though I might look okay from the outside. Today, I feel as if my whole world is reduced to the pain radiating through my legs and back. There's nothing to look forward to, just questions and temporary bandaids and pitying looks from my husband, who wants to help but, at this point, mostly ignores my limping and gasping because there's nothing he can do.

I'm so very tired of all of this.