Opiates and Nipples

Genitalia Discussion, Anyone? Oh, wait! First a news flash. I had to sign a Pain Contract with my new internist. New contract meant a piss test. So I gave them my sample and get this — the nurse called me to let me know I “passed my drug test”. “Well, hot damn!” I told her, “I kinda’ thought I would.” Fortunately, being me, this 61 year old, looks-like middle-class educated white woman schtick I do pays off with repartee’ and comedy routines with doctor’s office personnel. Odd thing here is, after 4+ years at my previous pain clinic, no one ever reported my urinalysis results to me. And I was assured they weren’t “actively looking for” pot, it’s the meth, the bad ass amphetamines that matter. Oh, and heroin. I knew I was safe from the state’s probing ways, but it did strike a chord that no one ever talked about my piss tests at Dr. Billy’s.

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Back to our regularly scheduled Opiate Discussion. This one’s really physically personal.

The body changes in ways you can’t imagine — once you leave opiates behind you. The way opiates rewrite the body? Probably not noticeable because the changes take place over a long period of time. Insidious changes. I can only relate to what happens to a woman. For men? Get yourselves out there and write about it and let me know.

1. When one enters a cold room, we all know what happens to our nipples, right? Honest Effect #1. Your nipples begin to react to cold again. On opiates, I would suggest that nipples don’t respond to cold temperature changes. Wow, it’s hard to be honest, but it might help someone so …. Here goes:

2. Nipples reacting also means other body parts are waking up. My opiate withdrawal was post-menopausal (ugh, once again, how personal can I get?) Menopause takes a woman’s WomanHood and removes it. So, if you’re taking hormone replacements or using an Estring or Premarin (by the way, don’t use Premarin, it’s made out of pregnant mare hormones and that creeps me out)  you probably won’t notice the effects of the opiates. Once you stop using opiates, you’ll KNOW you don’t need to use hormone replacements any longer. All your woman-bits come back to life. Yes, I could write that out in some sort of labia-vulva-related jargon, but come on! Do you really want to read that? If you’re a woman, you should get my inference. If you’re a man, write your own reactions to getting off opiates — except instead of post-menopausal, you’ll say post-mid-life crisis.

3. The numbing of genitalia (that’s a good way to put it) by opiates makes perfect sense. The purpose of the pain medication is to stop nerves from reacting to pain… and to any stimulus. Hence, opiates will kill your love life. Men will take Viagra or some miracle pill and women will suffer through mare urine lotions or the Estring which can just plain hurt.

Is that enough the personal? Being 61 (now) and having opiates in my system from 51 to 60 put my taking pain meds smack in the midst of the post-menopausal dance we all must endure.

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When a woman in menopausal, everything and I mean everything, body related is due to the hormones saying “good bye”. Headaches, body aches — this is my theory. I believe it’s difficult, if not impossible, to separate the body’s withdrawal from hormones to the the need for pain relief. Some day, hopefully in my great-granddaughter’s lifetime cuz it ain’t happening any time soon, the medical/scientific world will be able to assist women through pre- to post-menopausal times of their lives. As women live longer, it matters more and more. (Don’t double up on superlatives or descriptives, yes, I hear you O’Writing Teachers of the Past.)

When women died before or around 70, post-menopausal “comfort” was not discussed. For my mom, who had a hysterectomy at 50, she got monthly hormone shots from Dr. Kutait. Daddy lived until 72 and Mom didn’t remarry — she didn’t need what women today will need as they remain sexually active into their 80s. (Oh, that’s so weird, so not what I can picture but hell, it’s reality.) If your sex drive is diminished or even non-existent and you take opiates — I’m telling you what’s happened to it. I could be more graphic, but my little diatribe above should suffice.

As a footnote, one’s mate and one’s family are paramount in this world of opiates = Oxycodone and Oxycontin. From the first pill you take until your last. It does take a village — sure — the House of You best be populated by understanding, caring people and then you can consider how your much your village needs to know about your opiate withdrawal. I’m wandering all around the point here.

I’m going to research how opiates affect other parts of the body that depend upon how the brain gives messages to nerve endings in order to function properly. Perhaps saliva? Mucous? Since opiates are now known to cause Central Sleep Apnea (read about CPAP use and how not using your CPAP can quite literally kill you when you have CSA), what else do they affect? And the effects are insidious, occurring over time so you truly believe they are part of your disease of pain and not a reaction to the drug.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How I Came to Receiving a Prescription for Opiates

In 2004, for about three months, my day began with getting my husband off to work (breakfast, etc) and shoving him out the door so I could go back to bed. My Mom lived with us, she was 86 and still fairly spry and active, especially her mental acuity. I’d fake it until I made it, wandering around starting some laundry or doing the dishes. Trying to act as if I was going upstairs –not to bed — but to write. She knew better.

I bought a Kindle Fire and binged watched “Midsommer Murders” and other shows with multiple seasons, as well as any and all movies available. Six to eight hours a day. The sheer number of shows I’d consumed was not apparent to me until recently when I scrolled through my Netflix history.

This timeframe is my first honest to goodness, I have a regular Rheumatologist moment. I began to go to Brody Medical School on ECU’s dollar due to a special program for those without insurance in rural areas. The precursor to Obama’s healthcare initiative, I suppose. My doctor there (who doesn’t need to be named) treated me for fibromyalgia, CFS, and he believed I had SLE (Lupus) so I was on Tramadol, anti-malarial drugs (Plaquenil for Lupus) and I received injections of B-vitamins and other boosts to my system. Plaquenil requires eye exams every 3 months. A complicated world of getting the eye exam, then sending results to the Med School, and orchestrating it all so that the results were available before my next rheumatologist appointment. What a dance! All of this with a mind-numbing fatigue crippling me from performing even the most mundane household chore.

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I received Social Security Disability in 2006. I could choose a new rheumatologist, outside of the med school, and so I changed doctors. This was mostly because of the waiting room time at Brody. My appointment would be for 1:00pm and I would find myself being escorted by the lobby security guard to my car, in the dark, around 7:00pm. (I have waiting room tales that could fill a book, when you sit next to someone for 3 hours, eventually they begin talking to you, it’s like being stuck next to a Chatty Cathy on a long airplane flight.) It became annoying and ridiculous after a year, hence the search for a new doc.

I found an arthritis center (no longer in business, doesn’t matter who they were) that took Medicare. This doctor believed in prescribing exactly as the pharmaceutical company said to prescribe. This is shocking, in today’s pharmaceutical criminal world, in NC legislative terms. Back then, if Vicodin was prescribed as a pain killer to be taken every 4 to 6 hours, then a month-long prescription meant a bottle filled with either  120 or 240 Vicodin. I shit you not. 750/500s, if you know your Vicodin numbers.

(Here I was, receiving this bucket load of pain meds while my neighbor, bless his soul, was about to get busted for buying 2 Vicodin from undercover narc at $10 a piece. He couldn’t get any more meds from his doc because he’d been labeled a “drug seeker” by local pharmacies. I’d like to note here that he was dead from the waist down, car wreck, DUI, and 23 years old, pushed himself in a wonky wheeled chair down to the park four blocks away to buy Vicodin whenever he could. This is a weird world we live in. Now we have Pain Clinics, Pain Contracts, and piss tests.)

I’m getting this insane amount for $6. Can anyone not see the recipe for abuse? I only took a couple a day and had plenty in my bureau drawer for the rest of the world — were I a sharing person and I were not. Ever. Never ever shared.

The Vicodin probably helped. I was in such a fog, I don’t remember. All I remember is the CFS and being scared that I had Lupus.

CFS Information:

Chronic fatigue syndrome has eight official signs (and I had them all) and symptoms, plus the central symptom that gives the condition its name:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

I’m going to stop here, this has been exhausting and it began with opiate effects on the body and the effects of withdrawing from the drugs and it ended with my medical history, up to 2006. That’s quite enough for now.

Just found this quote in a USA Today article on Oxycontin class action lawsuits.

“Ellis blames only himself for his addiction and says only God could free him from its grip.”

Now that’s powerful.

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