Abilities and Life Expectancy (living life)

Posted by pfbacon @pfbacon, Jul 17 8:37am

Some of us are taking medicines that were, or still are, considered addictive drugs, like narcotics, prescription pain killers, and pot. According to my doctors, we end up taking these when other medicines, like anti-seizure meds and over-the-counter pain meds, don’t work any more (I have Neuropathy, it’s progressive, and progressively painful). My doctors are reluctant to say what my life expectancy will be once I start taking those.
Can we use narcotics, pain killers, and pot for decades? Are we lucid enough to take care of ourselves? If not, who takes care of us? Perhaps some of you who have been doing it for awhile will be willing to tell us how long you’ve been using such medicines and what it’s like: can we go on working? Driving? Do you live independently or in hospice or with family? Thank you … Peggy

@pfbacon Thank you for raising an interesting question. Your doctors are welcome to their opinions, but that doesn't mean you need to agree with them. I will start by saying that everyone has an expiration date, and no one knows that date. Of course this is my humble opinion! How we live our lives, the decisions we make, really is up to us. In that same thinking, how we respond to pain, whether it be temporary, or chronic, is an individual thing. I believe we deserve to live the life we want, to the extent that we can manage, and no medical doctor should make that decision for us. Again, it is an individual's right.

I have been a chronic pain sufferer for many years. But, I choose to forge onward. Sometimes that means relying on medications to make my days more bearable or my nights more comfortable to allow for restorative sleep. I am judicious in my use of medications, and keep within parameters that work well for me. I continue to function and take care of myself, which is good as I am fiercely independent! We live in a very small rural town, with no resources, so I have to stay on my game. It is 25 miles each way to the closest city of any size, and yes, I drive it in all weather. Although retired now, I worked full-time plus, early on in these chronic pain times, in a very stressful career.

As we age, grow "more golden" as a youngster once told me, it is natural for abilities to decline. You know, I wouldn't want to do now what I could do 20 years ago! Instead, I have learned to embrace the strengths and wisdom I have earned and learned. Preparing for your future is wise, no matter your age/health situation. Are you on pain medications and the like now? How do you feel, overall?
Ginger

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Thank you for being the first one to reply, Ginger. For pain medications, when I've taken the anti-seizure meds as prescribed but the neuropathy pain is breaking through, I take tylenol. It works most of the time. When it doesn't, I take 1/2 of 1 Tramadol. My GP told me not to take aspirin/advil/naprosin because they thinned my blood too much when I was taking them daily. If pain is breaking through at night, I take 1/2 of 1 codeine. I am frightened of getting progressively worse and having to use things like morphine, dilaudid, oxycontin, cannabis, demerol, heroin, valium, etc. I fear that they will make me so sleepy that I won't be able to get up and live my life – I'm hoping to learn from others here that their sleepiness wore off and they can live fairly normally … so that I can hope that I might react that way as well. I worked in the music business in Hollywood all my life and I have known many addicts – they often nodded off, sometimes they disappeared for days, they died young. I totally agree that we're all different and we all need to do whatever works. With aging (I'm 69), I am developing arthritis – it is getting progressively painful as well. Peggy

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Wow, @pfbacon. I've certainly thought about this many times over the years. One thing that has helped me decide this is deciding what is important to me: Living as high a quality of life that I can and the 2nd is living it as pain-free and as comfortable as I can.

A few years back I had to go back on anti-depressant medications. I told my husband that I had no intention of ever being off of them again. I had not seen him that happy in ages! lol.

I think that it's the same thing as you. How do you want to live the rest of your life? What's better for you, being a bit high with less pain or not being able to do much because you have so much pain. Can you do this for decades? Maybe not, but if it's working for you and you are living a life that you want then by all means do what you want.

I also think that if you need certain medications and your doctors are reluctant to give them to you, you need to ask why? I have lung cancer and my doctors are very careful with what they prescribe for treatment because they might need the "bigger guns" later on.

My husband is older than you but he's had arthritis for years. Up until last year, he refused any medications (yes he's one of those!) He has used exercise (one of the best things for arthritis), salves, and heat. I think that your fears are realistic about the effects of stronger drugs. If down the road, you need stronger meds, then you will need to be very careful.

I'm wondering if you are asking about life expectancy you are asking how long will you live, or how long will you live a meaningful life?

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@pfbacon

Thank you for being the first one to reply, Ginger. For pain medications, when I've taken the anti-seizure meds as prescribed but the neuropathy pain is breaking through, I take tylenol. It works most of the time. When it doesn't, I take 1/2 of 1 Tramadol. My GP told me not to take aspirin/advil/naprosin because they thinned my blood too much when I was taking them daily. If pain is breaking through at night, I take 1/2 of 1 codeine. I am frightened of getting progressively worse and having to use things like morphine, dilaudid, oxycontin, cannabis, demerol, heroin, valium, etc. I fear that they will make me so sleepy that I won't be able to get up and live my life – I'm hoping to learn from others here that their sleepiness wore off and they can live fairly normally … so that I can hope that I might react that way as well. I worked in the music business in Hollywood all my life and I have known many addicts – they often nodded off, sometimes they disappeared for days, they died young. I totally agree that we're all different and we all need to do whatever works. With aging (I'm 69), I am developing arthritis – it is getting progressively painful as well. Peggy

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@pfbacon There are many ways to work with pain and discomfort. Besides medications, many people benefit from massage, mindfulness, exercise, yoga, acupuncture etc. As @merpreb said, you choose the quality of life you want. I also have arthritis, which is right now manifesting in my hands, a tough spot to be in as a hobby artist! I am learning what works for me, the right soothing cream and massage.

I am glad you came up with this concern and posed it here. There will be others who also respond, and the collective voice will bring you support.
Ginger

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@pfbacon Good morning I like most everyone on here have a lot of pain .At one point I was on 4 Tramadol for my fracture it helped the pain but I am on 1 or 2 if needed there are days all the creams. Heat, ice I use I don't need the Tramadol For Arthritis I use Meloxicam but it is now getting worse.I do hand exercises found on u tube they help a lot It's the quality of life I have now you have to learn to adjust don't give in to the pain Take back your power in getting the relief how you can .Exercise is so important .Be pain free

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Great conversation. I'd also like to bring @liz223 @wsh66 @sheffieldsmith and @fourof5zs into this conversation. Living with pain and preparing for the future as we age requires many questions to be asked about how to continue to care for ourselves as treatment options may need adjusting and abilities change. What decisions need to be considered today to live the best quality of life and health?

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@colleenyoung

Great conversation. I'd also like to bring @liz223 @wsh66 @sheffieldsmith and @fourof5zs into this conversation. Living with pain and preparing for the future as we age requires many questions to be asked about how to continue to care for ourselves as treatment options may need adjusting and abilities change. What decisions need to be considered today to live the best quality of life and health?

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Not long ago, a member here on Connect referred to an article on the McMaster Optimal Aging website. I have found some pretty danged interesting articles there, and recently came across this one. I knew I saved it for a reason! This has to do with housing options, and how we might manage the choices. While not addressing specifically the concern of pain management and medications, it gives food for thought.
https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/hitting-the-headlines/detail/hitting-the-headlines/2020/07/07/making-informed-decisions-about-housing
Ginger

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Merry, I wouldn't fear drugs if they made me a little high but they don't – I just go right to sleep and that's no life, no 'quality of life', no lucidity. I haven't tried all of the drugs but I was given morphine in the hospital once – I got a blinding headache and went to sleep. The nurse said "yes, some people react like that. Are you ready for your next shot?" I said no thank you, can I go home? In the 70's I tried pot once, and hash once – I had the same allergic reaction to both of them – I thought I was going to die for 2 hours. I've never met another person who had a reaction like I had – I would love to meet one. I told my pain doctor about it; he is very well educated and experienced and he actually listens to what patients say, but he doesn't know what element of pot/hash caused the reaction – maybe the THC, maybe not.

I would like to hear from some of our members who take substantial doses of narcotics daily. I wonder how they take care of themselves, or if someone else does, and how long they expect to live and if the drugs damage their bodies or have side effects, or if their doctor has told them "once you're on narcotics your life expectancy is ___ years". It's well known that large amounts of alcohol damage the liver, pancreas, and brain; do narcotics damage certain organs too?

It sounds like we're all helping each other think this through … I appreciate everyone's candid contributions. Peggy

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@pfbacon Are you worried about having to take narcotics in your future and how will you take care of yourself? I don’t take narcotics or any pain meds but, as an oncology (cancer) nurse, I have a lot of experience with them. Many of the patients on the unit where I worked , took large amounts of narcotics, but they acted just like you and I. The body adjusts to each increase in dosage. It’s not like a drug addict; they want the drugs, but the body doesn’t need them ( for pain relief). For a person with cancer, the body both wants and needs the drug. Their mind is completely with it.
Also, if a person needs to start taking high doses of a drug, they can be referred to a palliative care doctor. They treat everyone, not just cancer patients. Their speciality is pain management. They aim to help you get “more life in your days, rather than days in your life.” The whole palliative care team helps you to figure out what you want to do to get life in your days.
Do you have any other thoughts or questions?

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@becsbuddy Thank you for your reply to those worrying about the effects of taking a narcotic pain reducer. I say reducer because even with my pain meds I am never 100% pain free, but what it does is make the pain well manageable and gives me the ability to take care of myself, spend time with my grand children and take care of my home. I hear people say they will never take a narcotic pain reliever and will even succumb to the pain and inability to enjoy life without the pain. My question is "Why would you do that to yourself. I certainly understand that some folks cannot, in any way, tolerate a narcotic or anything near that. That stinks. I am prescribed 3 percocets a day, one more if needed and less if not needed. It helps me to take care of myself, not lying in a bed crying in pain. I know the perils of drug addiction. I was a certified addiction counselor for 30 years. I retired 10 years ago. There is a huge difference between those seeking mental relief from a chemical and those seeking physical pain relief. Physical pain relief was the reason these drugs were made available. As Becky said, it seems our body metabolizes drugs used for physical pain relief different from those looking to get "High". Of course I wish opiods were not an answer for me, but relieving the pain that takes away my quality of life made me think long and hard about taking the drug. I am 75 years old and have been on narcotic pain relievers for 10 years and I live alone, take care of my home and with the help of a grief counselor grieve the loss of my husband who died 2 years ago. I am not trying to be the poster child for drug use, but rather an advocate for those who are having difficulty making a decision .

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I appreciate this conversation and have been enlightened by many thoughts expressed. At age 50, I've been on opiods for pain relief for over 3 years because other preferred choices failed to work. It was challenging for me to come to terms with the use and that I deserved comfort, while understanding I wasn't or wouldn't become an addict. I also do not receive 100% pain relief however, receive the relief my body needs to better partake in daily existence. My acceptance of opiods doesn't mean I wont remain hopeful for future alternatives like, yet to be created non-opiod pain relieving medications which large pharmaceutical companies are presently working on. I'm also hopeful to get to Mayo's Pain Rehab Program on October 5th and attempt to wean off 5mg 4-5 × per day hydrocodone/acetaminophen, as my last ditch effort, and see if I can achieve satisfactory pain relief through an alternitive approach. I owe it to myself to try and discover a possible way around opiod therapy, long term. I respect each and everyone's personal choice to do what's best for themselves and their bodies. Thank you @pfbacon for approaching this delicate topic and thanks to all others for chiming in with their views. Responses were slow to roll in, I believe, because this is an intricate, deeply thought out topic. Life expectancy = who knows! So many variables.
My best to all-
Rachel

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@summertime4

@becsbuddy Thank you for your reply to those worrying about the effects of taking a narcotic pain reducer. I say reducer because even with my pain meds I am never 100% pain free, but what it does is make the pain well manageable and gives me the ability to take care of myself, spend time with my grand children and take care of my home. I hear people say they will never take a narcotic pain reliever and will even succumb to the pain and inability to enjoy life without the pain. My question is "Why would you do that to yourself. I certainly understand that some folks cannot, in any way, tolerate a narcotic or anything near that. That stinks. I am prescribed 3 percocets a day, one more if needed and less if not needed. It helps me to take care of myself, not lying in a bed crying in pain. I know the perils of drug addiction. I was a certified addiction counselor for 30 years. I retired 10 years ago. There is a huge difference between those seeking mental relief from a chemical and those seeking physical pain relief. Physical pain relief was the reason these drugs were made available. As Becky said, it seems our body metabolizes drugs used for physical pain relief different from those looking to get "High". Of course I wish opiods were not an answer for me, but relieving the pain that takes away my quality of life made me think long and hard about taking the drug. I am 75 years old and have been on narcotic pain relievers for 10 years and I live alone, take care of my home and with the help of a grief counselor grieve the loss of my husband who died 2 years ago. I am not trying to be the poster child for drug use, but rather an advocate for those who are having difficulty making a decision .

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@summertime4 You are so right my Dr told me if you take narciticthe way I perc
Scribe you won't become addicted it's the abuser,s that become addicted Ive been on a couple but they didn't help that much so Tramadol does according to Dr,s dierections

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@lioness

@summertime4 You are so right my Dr told me if you take narciticthe way I perc
Scribe you won't become addicted it's the abuser,s that become addicted Ive been on a couple but they didn't help that much so Tramadol does according to Dr,s dierections

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@lioness– There are many factors that contribute to addiction, among them are addicting drugs. Drugs that actually make you an addict by physically changing your biology. Most of us become addicts of one sort or another after taking something, liking it, and continuing to take it, then because we need it. We aren't born addicts in the strict sense of needing an addictive drug at birth. CIrcumstances need to fall into place. At other times, as I said, it's the drug itself.

I can't take tramadol, I wish that I could. But it can become addictive, so be careful too.

Liked by lioness

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Your body does become physically dependent on some drugs. But, especially after a certain age, does it really matter? Isn't the point to have as many high quality days in life? I'd rather have a good shorter life than a long miserable one!

Liked by rwinney, cldmeyers

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@merpreb

@lioness– There are many factors that contribute to addiction, among them are addicting drugs. Drugs that actually make you an addict by physically changing your biology. Most of us become addicts of one sort or another after taking something, liking it, and continuing to take it, then because we need it. We aren't born addicts in the strict sense of needing an addictive drug at birth. CIrcumstances need to fall into place. At other times, as I said, it's the drug itself.

I can't take tramadol, I wish that I could. But it can become addictive, so be careful too.

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@merprep Thanks I am aware but as all my post about Tramadol you can see I was on 4 at first after my fracture now I only take 1if needed well there are days I don't need it so yes it can be addictive to those who can't control themselves

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