Dangerous Pain Medications

Dangerous Pain Medications

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It really concerns me how many women are being severely injured by mesh because not only does the injury change her life, but then she is prescribed pain medication, often in extraordinary amounts without knowing the real side effects of what she is taking and how difficult it is to get off them.

So today I want every woman to know what can happen if/when she has been offered these drugs because I do know women who have told me how hard it was to get off of them and it took them some time and a lot of hard work and determination. Worse yet some never do get off them not just because of their pain but because many are extremely difficult to stop taking and these drugs can put you at the highest risk for death as overdosing is very easy when you are not in control of all your faculties.

Recently one woman told me because she was feeling so down because of her injuries, she was prescribe an antidepressant that was supposed to also help with her pain. Sounds good I know when you suffer, but soon after she began taking it she realized the side effects were not worth it so was going to get off of it. However, the one she was taking which I cannot remember the name of, was not that easy to get off and you have to come off of it slowly or the side effects are really bad.

The lowest dose of prescription was still half the full dose she had been taking and was not low enough to get off completely as the side effects of not taking it was awful. So she had to go to a compound chemist who mixed up doses over the next few weeks by lowering it over time and then put it back into time released capsules as this drug was supposed to be taken. It took a few weeks before she could get off of it completely and she worked hard at it ready for her upcoming surgery.

She said to me at the time “Why on earth would the FDA approve such medications? Of course we all wonder why they approve half the things they do including implants that do so much harm. Not only getting off the medication was difficult but going to a compound chemist was also very expensive. So because of all I have been told by others I decided to give women a chance to understand what they are offered before they begin taking it.

I remember so well when my injuries began to worsen after my implant surgery and I knew something was seriously wrong and of course when I told the woman doctor I burst into tears because not only was I experiencing pain but I could no longer do the things I was used to doing. Normal things such as stepping up onto a curb made me gasp with pain and when I tried to reach my right foot my groin burned and a severe pain shot through my leg and hip.

Because I had tears running down my face, my doctor reached for her prescription drug tablet and I knew what was coming. In her mind I must be depressed so I should be on an antidepressant. Even though I have managed to heal a lot of my anger over five years I still feel angry at the medical profession who first do things to cause us pain and then take no responsibility and instead want us to become zombies to get us out of their lives. Even back then, I instinctively knew to protect myself and refuse any offers of any type of these drugs because I had seen people become addicted although thankfully not in my own immediate family. So I looked her in the eye and told her no thanks.

I have spoken to women on the phone who I knew were under the influence of extreme pain medication and although I know it is not their fault, I do worry what damage this is doing to their already precarious health situation. So this blog is not to admonish any woman who has to take such extreme medications but rather to inform so that she is aware of the dangers because I do not want any women to go to sleep one night, never to wake up again.

Ever since the day of my surgery and resulting injuries I have avoided these kind of medications and do everything I can to stay as well as possible and try to help with my own pain by taking supplements and herbs and I have shared them all here on this blog. It is not an easy or inexpensive route to go for me because Medicare does not cover alternative doctors or my supplements. They do cover any prescription drugs I take and even offer me low cost types because I am low income, but I would rather do without other things in my life before I take any of these drugs because I have experienced far too many side effects from any prescription drugs I have taken.

By now many who have been reading this blog know I was born in England and have lived in this country for forty-five years. I was on the phone with one of my sisters the other day and she told me that their doctor’s office called to find out if her husband was still alive because they have not seen him for twenty years. I had to laugh along with her because he is turning eighty in April and has done well for his age and is in very good health. England has excellent health coverage for everyone and although politicians put it down here, at least people do not have to go bankrupt because of an accident or illness. It’s there if you need it but my family have always done well in the health department and I did too until this fateful surgery, which I never needed. But I have written about that before and don’t want to go over it again. My sisters like me are well aware that these days’ doctors constantly push drugs and tests which sound great for your wellbeing, but they have also experienced side effects from taking them, so like me they do everything possible to stay well without drugs.

I know that health care in this country is probably the most expensive in the world if you look at the cost of insurance and the fact it only covers 80% and on some treatments nothing at all. Fortunately because in the past I was always well I never got into this kind of thing until I was age 62 and I had to pay cash for my rectocele repair surgery. Insurance was not easy to get at that age and not affordable and I thought that without the rectocele repair I was going to be in really bad shape and could not wait until I turned sixty-five. However now I know I could have waited as you won’t die from it. The mesh sling was an add on and which I never needed at all.

I will tell you that although my supplement insurance takes about 20% of my Social Security income I pay it because I cannot afford more debt because Medicare only pays 80% of our healthcare costs in this country. That may surprise you if you live in another country that age does not mean you are cared for, for free. If you are struggling with your mesh injuries I can tell you that I have my insurance supplement through AARP and it is United Healthcare.

Before I turned sixty five I sent it up three months prior to the month of my birthday and when I received notice it was all set even though I could not go until th, I called UCLA and had my consult appointment with Dr. Raz on the 5th of June even though my birthday was not until the end of that month. I had called UCLA to make sure I was purchasing a supplement they would accept before I signed up so that I did not make a huge mistake. Buying the wrong type would mean I had to wait one year before I could change it and that meant a much longer wait for removal. I had already waited two years and seven months by the time it was removed and I was not going to make any mistakes because I was in so much pain.

I hope knowing the type of insurance I have will help other women who may turn sixty-five before too long and need to get the mesh out. I can choose to go to any doctor anywhere in the country without getting approval which is why I pay extra to keep it. By paying out monthly I have not had to pay anything out of pocket for my surgeries and for that I am truly grateful as I don’t have any savings left to pay the 20% difference. You will be able to set things up three months before your birthday so I suggest it is a good thing to do so in this waiting time and UCLA will honor this type of insurance so then all you have to do is save up for the trip and hotel. If however you are low income, you may be eligible for free airfare for you and someone to accompany you and lower rates for the Tiverton House hotel. At the time I never knew about things I could do to save money but once I learned about them I wrote a blog to share for others who were in my situation. This blog will help you do what you need to do

But now here is the information to help you understand any drugs you are offered and make decisions based on knowledge.

Types (classes) of pain medication

Different types of medication are given for different reasons, so learn what yours is SUPPOSED to do BEFORE you take it.

Pain medications are drugs used to relieve discomfort associated with disease, injury, or surgery. Because the pain process is complex, there are many types of pain drugs that provide relief by acting through a variety of physiological mechanisms. Thus, effective medication for nerve pain will likely have a different mechanism of action than arthritis pain medication.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) act on substances in the body that can cause inflammation, pain, and fever.
  • Corticosteroids are often administered as an injection at the site of musculoskeletal injuries. They exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects. They can also be taken orally to relieve pain from, for example, arthritis.
  • Acetaminophen increases the body’s pain threshold, but it has little effect on inflammation.
  • Opioids, also known as narcotic analgesics, modify pain messages in the brain.
  • Muscle relaxants reduce pain from tense muscle groups, most likely through sedative action in the central nervous system.
  • Anti-anxiety drugs work on pain in three ways: they reduce anxiety, they relax muscles, and they help patients cope with discomfort.
  • Some antidepressants, particularly the tricyclics, may reduce pain transmission through the spinal cord.
  • Some anticonvulsant drugs also relieve the pain of neuropathies, possibly by stabilizing nerve cells.

What are the strongest pain medications?

Opioid analgesics, in general, are the strongest pain-relieving medications. The benchmark drug in this class is morphine – with other opioids falling above or below it in terms of pain-relieving potential. Near the bottom of the list is codeine, usually prescribed in combination with acetaminophen to relieve, for example, pain resulting from dental work. Codeine is only about 1/10th as powerful as morphine. Opioids more powerful than morphine include hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and oxymorphone (Opana). But the strongest opioid in community use is fentanyl which, in its intravenous form, is 70 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is also available as a long-release patch (Duragesic) and as a lozenge that dissolves in the mouth (Actiq). Sufentanil is even more powerful than fentanyl, but its use, at present is restricted to the intravenous route. However, a transdermal patch containing sufentanil is in clinical trials.

What are the side effects of pain medications?

NSAIDs

All NSAIDs come with the risk of gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. A newer class of anti-inflammatories, the COX-2 inhibitors, was developed to reduce this risk. It did not, though, eliminate it. In fact, another major issue emerged with these drugs: the possibility of severe and deadly vascular problems with long-term use, including heart attack and stroke.

Acetaminophen

Most users of acetaminophen experience few, if any, side effects. But the drug can cause liver damage, especially when taking too much or if taken with alcohol.

Opioids

Opioid analgesics commonly cause drowsiness, dizziness, and respiratory depression. However, these side effects usually disappear with continued use. However, constipation, another common side effect, tends to persist. In addition, opioid use may lead to addiction or dependence. Other possible side effects of opioid analgesics include:

Mixed opioid agonist-antagonists

Patients can experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal if a straight opioid analgesic, such as morphine, is taken at the same time as an opioid agonist-antagonist drug. Some of these medications include pentazocine (Talwin Nx, Talacen, Talwin Compound), butorphanol, and nalbuphine (Nubain).

Muscle relaxants

The main side effect of muscle relaxants is drowsiness. This may be how they work to “relieve” pain. In addition, carisoprodol (Soma) use may lead to dependence because in the body it is converted into a drug similar to barbiturates; cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) can cause dry mouth, constipation, confusion, and loss of balance; methocarbamol (Robaxin) discolors the urine to green, brown, or black; both metaxalone (Skelaxin) and chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte, DSC) should be used with caution in those with liver problems.

Anti-anxiety agents

Anti-anxiety drugs also carry the risk of sedation, particularly if combined with certain other medications (such as opioid analgesics) or alcohol. Other possible side effects include psychological changes, headache, nausea, visual problems, restlessness, and nightmares. Chest pain and heart pounding are also possible.

Antidepressants

Some of the antidepressants used for pain relief are the older tricyclics. These come with numerous side effects classified as anticholinergic, including dry mouth, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, and constipation. Other possible side effects include lower blood pressure, fast heartbeat, palpitations, weight gain, and fatigue.

A few of the newer antidepressants also reduce pain – and with less risk of anticholinergic issues. Still, the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may cause the following common side effects:

  • Anorexia
  • Asthenia
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ejaculatory difficulties
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Sweating

Antiseizure agents

Side effects associated with the anticonvulsants used for pain management commonly disappear over time. They include dizziness, drowsiness, and swelling of the lower extremities.

Corticosteroids

In general, short-term and/or low-dose corticosteroid use results in few side effects. But taking corticosteroids long-term can result in severe side effects, including:

  • Adrenal insufficiency – a condition in which the body cannot adequately respond to physical stress
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bone death
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Fluid retention
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Mood changes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Damage to local tissues

What about those over the counter pain medications?

Read this article and protect yourself before you take too many.

I hope this blog will enlighten you so that your life does not get even worse than it already is. The worse thing for any mesh injured woman is lack of knowledge but you have to want to learn so that you stay in control of your situation as much as possible. All I can do is offer a little guidance and the rest is up to you.


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