Friday, June 21, 2013

My own experience with Oxy-Contin. I'm serious.

Wow. It's been four months since I've paid any attention to this blog. I have no really good reason. The truth is, I've been trying to move forward with my life, marriage, job and relationship with my son.

What more would I have to share? I'm not the kind of drug advocate that I thought I could be. That is, I'm not involved with any kind of organization for parents of drug addicts. I no longer attend Nar-Anon meetings. Pretty much, I think I've put my son's addiction to Oxycontin and Heroin way in the back of my mind. Like, filed under "past" and I didn't want to reopen that file.

Then, something happened. After a few years of procrastination, I finally went ahead and had a total knee replacement.  This isn't my first major knee operation (same leg).  My arthriticaly diseased knee finally made my daily life a battle against pain. Standing, for more than a few minutes, hurt. Walking down a steep hill would blow out my knee. Forget sitting in a theater, unless I could stretch out my knee.

So, on June 11th I spend three nights in the hospital, after a success operation.  What did my doctor prescribe for my pain?

Oxycontin. 10mg.  One to two, every 12 hours.

My heart sank.

When my doctor checked in on me, it just leaped out of my throat. "I don't want to take oxycontin!"
He was a bit taken aback. I quickly explained that my son is a recovering drug addict, and this is the very drug that tore our lives apart. 

I'm not gonna lie. The post-surgery has been a daily heavy dose of pain. The physical therapist causes me nothing but anxiety-- though he's the best.  Bending my stiff knee, under his trained body pressure makes child birth seem like a walk in the park.  I find myself unable to hold back the blood curdling screams.  I am begging for mercy.   So, I have resigned myself to reserving the Oxycontin for the days he is coming to see me. I also have Oxycodone IR, and I can take 1-2 every 4 to 6 hours.  I opt, instead for Tylenol 500mg, no more than four times a day. So far, the Tylenol does a decent job with pain management... except for when the Physical "Terrorist" arrives at my house.

At least, my fear of becoming addicted was unfounded.  While Oxy gives me a sense of relaxation, and eases some of the pain (except for the excruciating stretches), I don't like the feeling of nausea that follows the "come down".  I sleep a lot, too. My appetite is pretty much non-existent. I eat, because if I don't, my body has the shakes. You could feed me my favorite gourmet dinner, and I might as well be eating sawdust with gravy on it. 

As I was laying on the bed, watching daytime TV (which I never do) I caught an episode on "Katie" about drug addiction.  One of her guests was a 23 year old boy, who was addicted to heroin. His path to destruction was no different than my own son's. 

Oh my God, the emotions welled up inside me.  I saw my own son, who was a shell of himself.  I listened to the boy talk about how he's been in and out of rehab and still can't get off the stuff. What I didn't hear this kid say was that he wanted to be clean-- with enough conviction. He was carted off to a top level rehab center in Malibu, CA-- free of charge. How I wish this young boy success in his sobriety.

Next, came a guest who is a 27 year old girl who has been clean for 5 years.  She was beautiful and articulate. She shared her journey in her addiction to Oxycontin and heroin.  She said exactly what my son's words were-- the key to her sobriety is the key to my own son's sobriety.

In my own words, this is the summary of why my son is no longer using.  The #1 reason, that my son could not find success in staying clean, is that he was terrified of going through withdrawals.  That's what the girl admitted, herself.  I can only relate to that moment, when my physical therapist tells me to lay flat, and I feel him picking up my leg that I begin to hyperventilate. I try to talk myself through the pain that I know is going to happen.  He stretches... he stretches, the pain begins and then I'm screaming bloody murder! 

My son says that withdrawals are a pain that he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.  If it's anything like what I've going through, I understand.  Fear of pain is paralyzing.

Yesterday, I told my physical therapist to stop. I had no more to give. I couldn't give him ten stretches. I had to stop at three.  When he relented, I wanted to cry with joy.

Maybe, for my son, that is what his relapses were to him. Relief from the agony and pain.

So, when people write to me and say to tell my son to quit "being a bitch" and suck it up-- well, I can tell you that I wish I could the same for my leg therapy.

We all have different pain tolerances.

I receive numerous emails from desperate parents and family members-- and they ask me what they can do to help their loved one become sober.

It all comes back to the addict. The only thing we can do, is to educate ourselves.  Try to learn as much about addiction that you can. Take classes. Read. Talk to other parents.

To see our own child, suffering from addiction, is an emotional pain that I don't care to repeat.  Yes, I was one of those parents who helped my son to buy the drugs he needed because he was so "sick". No, I didn't buy the drugs for him. But, I gave him money for some "need" he convinced me that he had.  I was in self-denial that the money would go to buy drugs.

That is so hard, because it is counter-intuitive, as a mom, to not want to help our children-- when they are in pain or danger.  I've watched enough Dr. Phil shows, to hear his rebukes that enabling our addicts is the worst thing we can do.

Reluctantly, I told B that I had Oxycontin as my pain management. At first, he was upset. For me. He began to question my physical therapist on why this was the prescribed pain med of choice.

Later, B told me not to worry about hiding the meds from him.

"Mom, don't worry about it. I no longer have cravings. Besides, the last time I relapsed and used Oxy, I didn't even like it. "  He also reminded me, that even if he took Oxy that nothing would happen, since the suboxone blocks those receptors of "pleasure".

While B is still on suboxone therapy, he is no longer using street drugs. B says that he no longer has cravings. He has an entirely new circle of friends. He still has the same job, for more than three years. He pays us rent, never complains and doesn't ask us for money.

He has stepped up to the plate, and is helping to take care of me. Role reversal.  I'm not as mobile as I had hoped-- though it's only been ten days since surgery.  I putt around, on a walker, but I'm not gonna lie-- as of today, I regret having the surgery.

That sounds bad, I know. In two more weeks, I'll be singing a different tune.  I just wish I had known that all my old scar tissue, from previous surgeries, would cause my knee to have a 50% decrease is my range of motion.  I thought I could endure the physical therapy, but I can't take the pain!

A year from now, I hope that all of this will be behind me. I visualize myself walking with my husband, without fear of stairs or steep hills.

With my own son, I still long for him to have an "organic" sobriety.  Clean. No prescribed drugs to keep him from using.

But, you know, this is his own sobriety.  I have learned to let go. I rejoice in God's Grace on us. I am so very thankful that my son isn't strung out on drugs. 

Best of all, I have watched my son's true personality emerge. He looks healthy, again. He laughs a lot. He is respectful and affectionate.

Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I had to make a decision to endure pain, so that my knee would be good as new. My son had to make a decision that he didn't want to live his life broke, and spending every waking moment thinking where his next fix would come from.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that nothing is too great for you. Thank you for wiping my tears, holding me when I lived in fear. Thank you for sending people into my life to support me, to educate me and for making the finances and insurance available, to help my son.

Thank you for reaching my son's heart and for helping him to see that he had a choice to make in which path he wanted to follow.

He chose sobriety.