Let's talk about opioids today.
I was kind of astounded when, while at the hospital with my son for a few days this past week, oxicodone was prescribed after a phone consultation between nurses and a doctor for the severe headache that happened as a side effect to the treatment he was being given for his illness.
As I mentioned in my Instagram post, I had this almost out of body, surreal (I've been triggered) moment when I heard the word come out of one of the nurse's mouths. She said it so casually, while my son sat in his hospital bed crying, nearly screaming, in pain because his head hurt so severely. He had already thrown up once due to the headache, was given Tylenol, fell asleep and a few hours later, woke up with it all over again.
I understand completely why this happened, and why they came to that conclusion. It was a very scary moment for my little boy, for his dad, and for me. We were all panicking, and here's this simple solution to take the pain away, and calm us all down.
But they don't know my history, and so I yelled it at them. In short, hysterical bursts I yelled that opioids killed my family, and they better get that damn doctor in this room before I make a decision like that for my son, when Tylenol worked only a few hours ago. I sat on his bed shaking, and sobbing, as he fell asleep again after a second dose of Tylenol, while the nurses ran out of the room to find the doctor I was demanding.
In this current crisis, this epidemic sweeping the nation, the WORLD, I could not believe that I was sitting in a hospital yet again, and having words like oxycodone thrown around so naturally and casually.
Whether they know my story or not, it's not an uncommon story. I can bet they have their own stories, personal and otherwise. They work in a hospital! They know someone who's overdosed. I just read an article that came out on Utah news stations, what, yesterday? Saying that prescription medication overdose was the LEADING cause of death in adults in UT! In my home state, it was the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH!!!
Granted I'm in OR now, but that doesn't change the commentary on what's happening in our country.
We all know someone, or we are someone.
This particular situation could have been handled so much differently, and in fact I might have said yes to opioids for my son if it had been explained to me in a different way BEFORE the severe pain my son experienced as a direct result of the treatment he was on with known side effects, such as headaches.
But that's not what happened. I was thrown into that decision for him after chaos was already ensuing, and nurses and doctors could not conclusively tell me why he was in so much pain. It was hours and a second doctor later, when it was determined that was the *probable* cause, and after a blood test I demanded before continuing his treatment to rule out possibly toxicity.
That situation was god damn scary!
And I share any and all of these situations because I am not alone in facing these scary situations, or these difficult decision while sitting in the middle of chaos and stress.
I am not personally aware of many stories where someone took opioids and then came out of it with a positive story to share. I am aware that it can happen, but it is so extremely rare.
Here's what I have to say about those heavy narcotics: They're pretty damn incredible.
That we have access to something that can ease our most severe pain in life, that's a miracle if I ever saw one. It is an incredible relief to know they in these hard times of extreme pain, they exist, and can ease our troubles. They are, at times, completely necessary! They were necessary in my family, they may be necessary again. I can not predict the future, and I can not sit here and say I'll always say no to opioids, for myself or for my children.
What I can say is that it's entirely situational, and in this particular situation they were completely unnecessary, and unwanted, and I feel that those two things should be discussed prior to any treatment.
If they had the time to make my son do breathing treatments in the hospital waiting room, and allow me to be the one to drive him to children's hospital, then there was certainly time to take to discuss the potential side effects of his treatment, and best or worst case scenarios and come up with plans for either, and to know that this particular mama bear is not OK with opioids unless it's an emergency situation.
The most important thing to take away from this HUGE epidemic is that opioids are OVER-PRESCRIBED.
We fall back on them as a solution way too easily!
I do what I do, and write what I write, to give voice to people who don't know what their rights are while facing chaotic and stressful situations that often times leave you making rash decisions that have long term consequences. I want to live in a world where retrospect isn't the only way to see why it was unnecessary.
Doctors know what's happening. Even though I yelled, and they were surprised that I yelled, there was knowing in each of their eyes and I knew by the look they gave me, this was not their first rodeo. Facing a patient, or guardian of a patient, that had such a visceral reaction to opioids.
And it will not be the last.
We all need to take time to discuss.
There are many paths to take, and sometimes it is to use this magical wonder medication that can seemingly solve all of our problems, but with such a widespread death rate as a direct result of taking such a wonder pill, we need to reevaluate how often and WHY we are prescribing them, and take a minute to think if there's potentially a different plan of action, before, during, or after a given situation.
I will continue to discuss this, but please feel free to share your thoughts on this. What would you have done in that situation? What are your experiences with opioids?
My next opioid post will be about what opioids are exactly, and I'll be working it into my podcast as well as my new YouTube channel to share at the start of the new year! Things to look forward to.