I never know when I am supposed to stop taking narcotics after surgery. I always want it to be “as soon as possible.” But this is complicated by the fact that, prior to my surgery, I was taking narcotics for the pain in my throat anyway. So it’s really me trying to get back down to the dose at which I can drive and be a functional homeschooling parent.
I’m not good at this whole “evaluating pain” thing.
Everyone’s experience of their own body is different. As far as I can tell from listening to other people talk about pain, my experience is perhaps slightly more atypical than what is generally considered. This makes it difficult for me to communicate with health care providers, for one thing. It also makes it difficult for me to make decisions regarding narcotics.
Behind all of this, of course, is the great raging history of addiction and substance abuse in my family. Behind all of this is the nagging, worrying, day-in-and-day-out fear that I don’t really need any of these drugs. That I am justifying my use of narcotics. That I don’t really have any pain, or anything wrong with me. The fear that I am lying, first to myself and then to everyone else, about my need for and use of narcotics.
The fear that I am, if not already an addict, I am trying to be one, and this is the first (or third or seventh) step on that road.
I read an interesting piece in the Huffington Post the other day, The Likely Cause of Addiction, by Johann Hari. In it the author says “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.” And he argues that addiction is unlikely to be found in people who have lives of connection which make them happy.
I have no actual idea as to the veracity of these claims. (It’s an interesting read, regardless.) But I am thinking of that article as I try to take a lower dose of hydrocodone. I am thinking of that article as I try to teach school to my kids, get the dishes done, keep the house clean.
I think of myself as someone who has human connection. I find that this human connection brings me great happiness. And I find myself hoping that the article is true, or at least true for me.
If it is true, for me, then perhaps it’s okay to still want (or need?) the narcotics for a while longer. Perhaps, if I am not an addict-in-the-making, I don’t have to be in pain. Perhaps the feeling I have of wanting the next vicodin is not addiction, but is a normal response to the state of my throat lining, which peels apart when touched. (Is this a normal amount of pain? Would a non-addict want drugs for this? Am I allowed to want this to go away, or is this the amount of pain I should accept and live with? What is the threshold at which a normal person would want relief? — these are the questions I ask every time I take more.)
At any rate, here’s another day. A day with homeschool, and housework, and getting my kids to go through their routines.
Tomorrow is another appointment at the Mayo. This time with Oral Derm, to see if we can figure out why my mouth bleeds.
Off we go —
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