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On Living with Acute Chronic Pain: Please Don’t Treat Me Like a Drug Addict!

Updated on July 18, 2016
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by blogger and author Kate Mitchell

It’s 9:41 on a Wednesday, and I have been trying to sleep for almost two hours. My body has been sluggish and weak all day – well, more than normal, at least – and I need lots of sleep. Preferably 10-13 hours. But once I try to actually go to sleep, I can’t.

I’m not dealing with sleep issues, I’m dealing with pain. I only have one more narcotic pain pill left because the prescription I tried to fill earlier in the week had expired. And that’s because we had a mix-up at the doctor’s office and they gave me an old script that I never filled. So tomorrow I’ll trek back across the city to get my script, go back to my local CVS, and hope that the new pharmacy interns don’t treat me like a drug addict.

I have nothing against that, really. My local pharmacy has two full-time pharmacists (they have their pharm. docs), some full-time techs, and the rest are pharmacy students interning. The interns recently changed over for the summer semester and they don’t know me yet. The rest know me. They know that I take 25 pills a day and fill a legal (and needed ) opioid prescription every month.

The interns are trying to combine what they’ve learned in their classes, what the law tells them, what they’ve heard about people filling narcotics, and their brand-new practical experience. They don’t know yet that I’m not a drug addict – I’m a patient with a highly active and severe case of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis who is waiting for the trimester’s chemotherapy to kick in.

I have arthritis in 58 joints, and it’s currently running wild while I wait for last week’s chemo to kick in. It won’t for another two to three weeks, so in the meantime, I’m just trying to get by every day as much as I can. I still haven’t completely recovered from my chemo yet – my appetite hasn’t returned and I’ve been overly exhausted for six days. Today was my first day back for work. The absolute last thing I want while dealing with all of this is to be treated like a drug addict looking for their next high.

This post originally appeared here and is reposted with permission.

Kate Mitchell is 23 years old and lives with rheumatoid arthritis. She taught 9th grade English for a year and is working on her second book. She is an author, arthritis patient advocate, and Boston Red Sox fan. Follow her on Twitter: @kmitchellauthor.

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