My Manifesto | Truth About My Pain, Pot, and Pills

Imagine that you feel like you have the flu – but without the “sick” part of it (you don’t have the stuffy head, cough, etc.) – meaning your entire body aches, you feel like you’re running a fever, and you have ZERO amount of energy. Now imagine feeling that way every day. EACH DAY. Can you even imagine?

Okay, now let’s add constant neck and shoulder pain that hasn’t subsided in over 20 years. Constantly. In pain. For over 20 years.

Yes, 20 YEARS. 1040 weeks. That’s 7,300 days. 24/7 constant, chronic pain.

I’m sure that most of you CANNOT imagine what this feels like, but if you’ve got fibromyalgia, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

CONSTANT pain. Constant. Imagine your brain yelling, “pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain …” 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 52 weeks per year, for over 20 years.

This is me. This is my life.

And it sucks.

So what do you do when you’re in constant pain? You do WHATEVER YOU CAN to make the pain subside, or at least be less intense. But how? In the United States, getting a prescription for anything that contains a narcotic is almost impossible. Let me tell you how many times I was given a prescription containing narcotics for fibromyalgia.

ZERO. NONE.

Yep, zero times. (But I did manage to have a couple of prescriptions written when I was in so much neck pain I couldn’t move my neck, and then for my neck surgery. I always managed to mete out these pills.) Not until we got a rheumatologist in town, after I had gone through intensive physical therapy, after I had neck fusion surgery, was I given a prescription for hydrocodone specifically for my fibromyalgia pain.

Because HEAVEN FORBID should anyone be able to feel good! That’s against the law.

Yes, I left with a prescription for hydrocodone. A WHOPPING 5 mg. Wow. (To give you an idea, you can get aspirin with 8 mg. of codeine over the counter in Canada.) Now the 5 mg. didn’t take away the pain, but made it less severe. I can actually function like a normal human being! Now I don’t have to make those pills from my surgery last over an entire year. Never once have I obtained codeine illegally. NEVER.

So I’ve been going to this doctor for over half a year now. I went to pick up my THIRD prescription (that’s only three in six months, do the math, I didn’t take a pill every day), but I was told I needed to go pee in a cup for a random drug test because of the new federal laws. Even though I’ve exhibited ZERO signs of being a drug addict, I’m assumed guilty until my urine shows that I’m drug free.

That’s a problem for me. A huge problem.

WHY? Because I did WHATEVER I COULD to ease my constant, chronic pain. That meant I smoked pot. Marijuana, mary jane, reefer, blunts, call it what you will. I call it my lifesaver.

Fortunately, I couldn’t take that drug test right then and there because of a previously scheduled appointment. I would have failed that drug test on the spot.

I’ve had to give up marijuana to pass this drug test. So now I’m faced with a serious decision.

Do I give up the marijuana that had long-lasting effects on my pain? Or do I give up the pills that occasionally make me forget the pain for say, maybe an hour? Sometimes two, if I’m really, really lucky. And that’s only every other day. The pills, yes, do more than the pot, but only for a fraction of time. I can’t be popping pills several times per day because I don’t have that type of prescription. And I doubt I ever will if these federal laws continue to exist.

Do I get high from these pills? Not really. But why? Because I’m in CONSTANT, CHRONIC pain. Those pain pills actually treat the pain, and thus, it doesn’t make me high. Now a person not in pain? Would certainly be high. Yes, these pills would make you feel good.

But feeling good is a problem in the United States. We have a war on drugs here. We have people sitting in prison for doing drugs. For feeling good. Feeling good shouldn’t be a bad thing.

So here I sit, mad as hell. And I have EVERY RIGHT TO BE ANGRY.

I shouldn’t have to suffer when there’s relief to be had. Nobody should have to suffer. But we with CONSTANT, CHRONIC pain do suffer. We suffer from pain ALL THE TIME. CONSTANTLY. CHRONICALLY.

What’s so ironic to me is that I can go buy a bottle of booze, which totally impairs me. Pot doesn’t. (How many car accidents are caused by driving drunk? Too many to count. But yet, how many car accidents have you heard were caused by smoking pot? Yep, none.) Or I could go buy a gun without any background check. Both the booze and the gun could hurt numerous people. But thank goodness, I’m not crazy. I don’t want to get drunk, nor do I want to shoot anybody.

I don’t even want to shoot the lawmakers who passed these drug laws. What I would like, though, is for any one of them to “fill my shoes” for a day. Heck, not even a full 24 hours. Let’s just give him/her half a day of CONSTANT, CHRONIC pain. But no pills, no pot, no booze, nothing. Then tell me how you feel.

I’d just like some pain relief. That’s all I’m asking! That’s all we’re asking.

And then let’s have this one person tell me if these laws are worth it.

Because what the majority of Americans think about pot? Is not true. We’re not all lazy potheads, who sit around doing nothing, eating bon-bons all day long (because heck, if you get stoned, you get the munchies, right?) Before prohibition, marijuana was legal. As a matter of fact, it was ILLEGAL NOT TO GROW IT! That’s right, the hemp used from marijuana was used to make rope, which was very necessary in the shipping industry.

So … a bunch of folks set out to make marijuana users be BAD PEOPLE around prohibition time. Unfortunately, that misperception stuck. All the way into the year 2014.

Well, let me shoot down those untruths.

When I was in college (oh yes indeed, I went through college, got a degree, made the dean’s list, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, all while being high), my roommate mentioned something about stoners being lazy. “Really?” I asked? “They’re late, too. Never on time,” she said. “Oh?” I replied? I let her go on about her misperceptions.

“Have I ever been late for anything?” I asked. “No.”

“Do you think I’m lazy?” I asked. “Heavens no,” she replied! “You go to college, you work part-time.”

Well, guess what. I get stoned. EVERY DAY! Gasp!

Not only did I get that college degree (with honors), I worked every spare minute I could during college. After college, I got a professional position – where I excelled. And I still smoked pot. (I even went back to college to learn Spanish.)

Yes, I’m a stoner. And I’m not ashamed of it one bit. This marijuana is the ONE AND ONLY thing that has allowed me to survive the past 20-30 years. It has been my major source of pain relief. It was the only thing I could turn to.

A little bit about me: I am a professional woman, with a full-time, prestigious position, working almost 15 years for a world-wide company. I work with many folks who smoke weed just like I do. Some of us joke that if we had mandatory/random drug tests, our company would have maybe 3-4 folks left. The rest of us would fail that drug test.

We’re all UBER intelligent people. And we smoke pot.

Outside of work, I was on the Board of Directors for a non-profit agency for five years. I was the head of the Public Relations program. Still smoking pot. I helped our fundraisers go from $25k per year to $50k. I completed the annual fundraiser 100+ page catalog during the same time I was putting together my son’s school’s annual yearbook. Oh, by the way, I took all the pictures for that yearbook, too.

I hope you’re getting my point.

I’m not a lazy, no-good, good-for-nothing stoner. Not many of us are.

Lazy people are lazy people, whether they smoke pot or not. There are lazy people who smoke pot and lazy people who don’t.

But there are doctors, professors, lawyers, all sorts of professionals – respected members of society – that smoke pot. I’m one of those respected members. I’ve got a house almost paid off, I don’t have any bills outside of my monthly American Express card, which I pay off in full each month. I’m probably one of the most active parents at my son’s school. I volunteer regularly. I’m a good person.

You wouldn’t ever know by looking at me that I smoke pot. I have a lot of friends who don’t know I do. Because it’s still a bad thing … in their heads.

But not in mine. I know that I’m not a criminal. I’m a thriving individual that gives back to my community, sometimes more than 100 percent. I’m an overachiever. And I smoke pot.

So here I sit, writing this manifesto, marijuana free for an entire week. And I’m in pain. Bad pain. But in order to get that prescription for those 5 mg pills of codeine, I can’t get that other pain relief. Like I said, it’s a serious decision. Get some relief now? Or pay for it later with a failed drug test. So I remain pot free.

Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain. Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain. Imagine your brain repeating that every second you’re awake. Imagine being in constant pain. With no relief. Can you?

Because I’ve been a “chronic” user of marijuana for I’ve lost count how many years, it could take up to 12 weeks – or more – for me to pass a urine test. My next appointment with my rheumatologist is in a couple of weeks. I’m sure I’ll fail that urine drug test.

And I won’t be receiving any more prescriptions for hydrocodone.

That’s why I’m mad as hell.

Wouldn’t you be?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well … I feel much better now that this manifesto is written and ready for the world. I’m sure all of you (or at least some of you) understand why this is anonymous. I mean HEAVEN FORBID should I have to pee in a cup for my employer.

To see other Manifestos, check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge here.

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13 thoughts on “My Manifesto | Truth About My Pain, Pot, and Pills

  1. You seem to be in a really shitty situation. But if the pot is what works better than the codeine, then that is the only decision – I’d have thought it would be legalised for this use. I have a friend with fibro and another with a similar condition Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that have struggled through their degrees because of the pain. It is only because of the Tramadol (prescription in UK has now been revised, so she may lose that soon) that my friend with EDS got the highest possible degree classification. My friend with fibro, didn’t fair as well (she got a 2.2 with Honours), but neither of them could keep up work. I think more open mindedness is needed in treating chronic conditions – after all, I have been prescribed beta-blockers for anxiety as opposed to angina etc.

    I really hope things work out for you 🙂

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    • Thank you, Kate. I’m hoping that the more we get the word out about how we suffer, maybe, just maybe, we in pain will get some help. We have Tramadol here in the US, and it is a “scheduled” drug although it doesn’t contain any narcotics. Go figure! I hope your friends get the help they deserve. Nobody should have to suffer! Thank you so much for reading and replying! 😀

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      • Tramadol is scheduled because it’s basically an opiate knockoff. They were trying to make a drug that killed pain like opiates but without the euphoric aspects. As usual, when trying to do that sort of thing, they just made a nastier and more dangerous drug than any opiate ever could be while making it, if anything, even more habit-forming and euphoric by adding activity in all sorts of brain chemical receptor areas beyond the opiate receptors. It not only gets people high in much the same way as opiates and several other drugs (thanks to that extra neuro-receptor activity), it also can cause seizures and other nasty problems that no opiate – not even street heroin – can cause. Frankly if tramadol is taken off the market, and everyone on it given a reasonable, clean opiate like oxycodone or hydrocodone, it’d be much better for them. Both opiates can be habit-forming, but that’s a big improvement over giving you seizures or destroying your liver/kidneys.

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      • Exactly! But that’s the ONLY thing I was given for 20+ years. I will have to ask my doctor why I’m on that if it’s addictive, and why can’t I have something that really does knock out the pain! Now you’ve given me something else to ponder.
        About a year ago, the “C” on my prescription for Tramadol (indicating a scheduled drug) disappeared. Hmmmmm. More to ponder.
        So … it’s okay for me to take a habit-forming drug that can destroy my kidney/liver (and my mom died from renal failure) … but not okay for me to take a habit-forming narcotic that kills my ever-growing, never-ending pain. That is just so hypocritical, eh?
        ARGH
        And it’s okay for me to take other medications every day for the rest of my life! But they don’t make you feel good, which is the key here. Heaven forbid should you take anything that can potentially make you feel good!
        But you can go out and get drunk. Or get addicted to cigarettes. I believe if we trace the money made by pharmaceutical, tobacco, and alcohol companies, we see why these are legal and readily available. Pump us up with the really, terrible, bad stuff, and keep us away from the natural remedies, such as medical marijuana.
        Sorry for the vent! I should have just made a post. 😉

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      • It is extremely hypocritical and moreover it’s yet another example of how the drug laws and beliefs about drugs, held even by doctors and others who ought to know better, are completely irrational and without basis in sound science. And no worries! I completely feel you. I do not have fibromyalgia (at least I am not diagnosed with it although I am beginning to think my partner might have it – he experiences symptoms much like you describe in this post, the constant ‘having a flu except not’ thing, with random pain as well.) But I am also a chronic pain patient and I have also gone through the wringer with doctors about medicine. I am lucky enough to have been disabled young enough that my mother could be aggressive on my behalf, so that I was moved from doctor to doctor until we found one willing to prescribe morphine – which is the best-known drug of all and which I would MUCH rather take than some insane recently made pharmaceutical they don’t even know how it works. But until we found him, I suffered through much the same stuff you have. And we’re painfully aware of how lucky we are to have him as our doctor and how terrible it will be if we ever have to look for another one. It’s really an unfair burden to put on people who are already ill and struggling, but that’s the hypocrisy of American mainstream beliefs about drugs and drug users for you. *hugs* The Puritan fear of people enjoying themselves is damaging in itself but when it adds stress and pain to the lives of ill people it’s really inexcusable. Hopefully, soon, it will begin to be recognized for the neurosis that it is and cast aside by the mainstream so actual medicine can be practiced.

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      • I just made an appointment to see a pain specialist, but I cannot see him until December. Ouch. Meanwhile, I have plenty of information to discuss with my rheumatologist next week. You are so right on each count, I wish I could hug you!
        About your partner, does he have any pain points on his body? Like around his neck, shoulders, hips, knees, etc. This is another way of diagnosing fibromyalgia. I complained (this was over 20 years ago) to a doctor about my muscles and pressure points hurting all the time, this is what led to my diagnosis. I’m so glad you found the right doctor to treat you. Now I have hope. … now if I could just pass a urine test! I was in so much pain yesterday from a “fibro flare.” I’m meting out my last five pain pills (they could be the last, you know) and couldn’t do the natural remedy (cough, cough) so I’m just screwed. Unless a negative shows up today! ha. I’ve given up hope on that. 😦

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  2. Pingback: “Foolish Compassion” – The 19th of September 1993 – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | Forgotten Correspondence

  3. Also just to clarify, if you got hydrocodone, that does not contain codeine. It is a related but different drug. You most likely are/were given 5mg of hydrocodone with 500mg of acetaminophen aka paracetamol. This may be useful or needed for you to know in future with different doctors wanting to know what you have taken.

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      • That’s good at least that you got the lowest acetaminophen dose. Your doctor’s at least taking care of you on that score. Still something without it would probably be more effective. Hydrocodone is an odd drug that’s difficult to dose properly because people react to it very differently. For me, my body processes it as if it were weaker than oxycodone (the drug in Percocet and OxyContin), but for other people, it’s the other way around, and some people get weird side effects from it. My mother can’t take it without having hysterical, irrational crying fits. So you may well be one of those for whom hydrocodone is simply not very effective. Or 5mg just might not be enough. That is an extremely low dose – the dose you’re typically started at just to see how you do. I was on a formulation called Lortab for some time at the beginning of my chronic pain issues before being moved to longer-acting medications (OxyContin, later MSContin, which is morphine.) It’s good to keep track of this stuff because sometimes doctors rely too much on pharmaceutical salespeople to tell them what to prescribe and don’t always know as much as they ought about given drugs. Although since the lowest APAP dose was used yours at least seems decently savvy, trying to spare you the damage that can be done. There’s another illogical thing – opiates, which do no direct damage to your body in and of themselves, are wildly illegal and taboo. But acetaminophen, which can easily destroy your GI tract and liver if you take too much of it over time (more than the recommended amount on the box, OR the recommended amount with any amount of alcohol)? That’s just Tylenol! On shelves everywhere! Mixed into random painkillers just because! It’s enough to make a pain patient want to bang their head on the wall many many times.

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      • Yes, I know that feeling very well, being so angry I want to bang my head over and over again! I went to a pain clinic where all they wanted to do were procedures, which one was totally ineffective and gave me even worse pain. So then another doctor there decided to prescribe me Celebrex, which has so many side effects and potential damage because of the other prescriptions I take. Again, kidney damage, which my mother died from. He countered, “well, you could die from taking OTC medicine, too.” I immediately stopped seeing him. Plus, $50 for hyped-up aspirin basically? No way!
        I am definitely going to ask for a stronger prescription. That is … depending on test results.
        THAT itself makes me want to bang my head. Haven’t done anything in WEEKS and I still test positive. An unreliable test, I’d say!

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