Is It OK to Take Pain Medications, Or Is it a Moral Weakness?

Published: August 29, 2012
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Question

I just feel so badly and I feel there is no reason to continue to live. I am 71 yrs. old, have been disabled since birth, doctors predicted I would not live beyond 20 years old. I surely fooled them. I always accepted my disability, even worked for 11 1/2 years. In 1983 I had pulmonary arrest and ended up with a tracheotomy and on a respirator 24/7, and I'm still on the respirator 24/7.

My problem now is suffering so much severe pain. I believe it's nerve pain because my feet and legs have numbness, tingling, and needles and I have very bad pain when someone touches my toes and feet. I have been taking the Pain Tablet, Grape Seed, and whatever Dr. Becker recommends to take. My pain doctor has been prescribing Percocet for so very many years. I try to cut down taking it, but I am not sure what to do. My pain is so bad that I cry so much day after day. That is why I feel it's not worth living.

Please, please help me.

Eleanor

Answer

Dear Eleanor,

Your goal should be getting pain free—not getting off the Percocet! Although it is abused in some situations, in chronic pain the Percocet is simply one more gift that God sends us to use. That's why I often tell the story below (at the end of this answer).

I know you can be pain free. In the over 3,000 pain patients I've helped, I can count on my fingers (don't even need my toes) the ones I have not been able to get adequate pain relief. That most physicians (God bless them) are clueless about how to address pain (they are simply not trained in this) does not mean you can't be pain free. You can!

Start by going to a pain specialist (physiatrist) who KNOWS how to address neuropathic pain. To find one, go to the American Academy of Pain Management web site (www.aapainmanage.org) and click on the "patients" link on the left and then on finding a physician. Meanwhile, I have an excellent chapter on addressing nerve (Neuropathic) pain in my Pain Free 1-2-3! book (available at www.vitality101.com, from Amazon, or your local bookstore). Simply following the directions in this chapter (and bring them up with and discuss them with your doctor so you can start immediately while getting an appointment with a knowledgeable pain specialist) will likely result in dramatic relief. The medications Lyrica, Elavil, Neurontin, Ultram, and Cymbalta, for example, are much more effective for nerve pain than Percocet (and can be taken with the Percocet) and are less likely to suppress your breathing. If they are too sedating, begin with a lower dose and work up so your body can adjust. Also USE THE PAIN CREAMS I DISCUSS IN THE CHAPTER! They are great for pain, especially nerve pain (which is likely what you have) with no side effects. Give all therapies 2-6 weeks to work and people can begin the creams and a medication by mouth simultaneously. Your doctor can call a prescription for the pain creams to ITC Pharmacy and ask for the "Nerve pain lotion". I have my patients apply it to the painful areas if the skin is intact (no open sores) rubbed in in a very thin layer (a little goes a long way) 3 times a day (using up to 3-4 "pea sized" amounts at a time).

In addition, nutritional deficiencies and low thyroid (also discussed in the book ) can contribute to nerve pain. I would take a good multivitamin powder, lipoic acid 300 mg 2x day, and acetyl-l - carnitine 500-1000 mg 2x day (all available in most health food stores or at www.vitality101.com ). It may take 3-12 months, but these can help nerve pain. Also, make sure your thyroid hormone levels are not low and that your vitamin B12 blood level is over 540 (if less, ask for B 12 shots using METHYLcobalmin, 1000-3000 mcg per dose for 10-15 injections—I'd give an injection every 1-3 days). If your doctor won't give the shots, B 12 should already be in a good multivitamin powder.

Eleanor, you can get relief. It is time for YOU to GET PAIN FREE NOW!

Love and Blessings,
Jacob Teitelbaum MD
Author - Pain Free 1-2-3!

Eleanor, God loves you. Please read this story:

I suspect that you get no bonus points in heaven for having suffered through the pain instead of taking the medications needed to be comfortable. I often tell my patients the story about the pious man who lived in Johnstown during the Johnstown flood. The National Guard came into the city and told everyone they had to evacuate or they would drown. This man refused to leave, saying that he had faith in God and that God would protect him. The floodwaters came and soon the Coast Guard boat arrived, floating by his second story window. They beseeched him to climb in the boat and be saved but he refused, once again saying that he had faith in God to protect him. Pretty soon he was up on the top of his roof and a helicopter came by and yelled at him to get in. Once again he refused-and the man drowned. He went to heaven, and God came by. The man was very angry at God and said, "I had full faith in you and you let me drown!" God said, "What are you talking about? I sent the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and a helicopter!" The medications are like the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and the helicopter. It's okay to use them!

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