How my Chronic Pain Revealed my Chronic Addiction

By Maynard Colby

For as long as I can remember, I was plagued with chronic urinary tract and kidney infections. Growing up in a small town, my mom and I would venture into the local family practitioner’s office almost weekly. The doctor would write me a prescription for an antibiotic and send us on our way, without any answers. Essentially we were treating the symptoms but never curing the ailment. Much like my addiction, I remember the pain eroding my quality of life. I’d spend hours crying, running into the bathroom, and begging for relief. One day I went for my routine office visit and I was greeted by a fill in doctor. Anxiously annoyed, I updated the doctor on my medical history. He quickly realized that my frequent visits warranted further investigation. Finally someone validated my pain. Recommendations for a visit to a specialist resulted in a diagnosis: Interstitial Cystitis. A painful bladder disease proven to interrupt everyday activities with chronic pain and inconvenient side effects, IC became me. Then came the treatment. I remember the urologist writing me a prescription for Oxycodone and sending me home. No warning or further instruction was given, only a future appointment scheduled for a follow up.

My prescription would last the duration of the month, until the symptoms seemed to persist. Looking back, I think this was a delusion that I reveled in. I didn’t mind being the “sick girl.” After all, who would argue excusable days home from work, empathy from seemingly uninterested family members, and pity gifts from friends? I noticed I started taking my prescription as a preventative remedy for my pain and making sure to never miss an appointment with my specialist. This continued for a while, until my mom passed away unexpectedly. The night my mom entered the hospital, I was out of my medicine and suddenly I was emotionally pained. My first thought was to call the local drug dealer, so I did. He met me with a bag full of oblivion and I indulged. I had arrived. Temporarily curing my chronic physical and emotional pain, opiates came to the rescue. With the aid of my beloved opiates, I felt like superwoman conquering the grueling task of comforting my family.

It wasn’t long before chaos ensued. My addiction propelled my chronic pain and vice versa. I was stuck in a cycle that eventually led to my downfall. Visiting my specialist multiple times a month, I vividly remember him telling me “Now don’t get hooked on these sweetheart.” It was too late. Our farewell always ended with me grinning ear to ear and prescription in hand. I had mastered the art of true manipulation yet I was completely oblivious. As my addiction progressed I always needed more and I was enslaved to a disease I refused to acknowledge. Much like my undiagnosed IC, I was faced with untreated alcoholism. Uneducated and rebellious, I continued to numb grief until desperation found me. My life was completely unmanageable.

My consequences eventually led to a diagnosis I gratefully accepted. I was an addict, to the core of my being. The same way I sought out answers for my medical condition, I exhausted all seemingly redemptive solutions while seeking reprieve in any mood/mind altering substance. It wasn’t until I welcomed treatment for the symptoms of my addiction, that I was able to taste true freedom. Surprisingly enough, the symptoms of my bladder disease have subsided as well. Healthy living requires discipline but reaps immeasurable benefits. Mind, body, and soul… recovery is an all encompassing gift that demands to be received.

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