The Chemical Structure of Lortab
Today, I went to see the oncologist that treats me in this city. I actually have three doctors who take care of me and my cancer but I only have to see two of them frequently. The visit was okay. My orthopedic oncologist in the nearby city has decided to take a wait and see approach with me. My last x-rays were good, no signs of new cancer growth. So anyways, I spoke to my doctor today about getting off some of my medications. I am really feeling tethered by these drugs. On the one hand, I'm really happy that they are willing to give me the sort of meds that it takes to keep my pain fairly controlled. However, I just really wish that I could get off of most of it. My doctor said that the reality is that I'll probably always have to be on some sort of pain meds because of the procedures that I've had. He said that he didn't recommend me trying to get off of my meds all of a sudden and that he's comfortable with me taking the amount that I get now. That was reassuring. However, I want to be off of it if there are any other alternatives that we could try. So the doctor decided to start me on Mobic and increase the dosage of Neurontin in the hopes that over time this will allow me to get off of the medication that I really dislike by substituting it for other meds and then we could see how small a dosage I could use and still get pretty good pain relief. That's not exactly what I was hoping for but it sounds like a good plan to me. My goal is still to get off of the narcotic because I just don't want to take it anymore.
I used to work as a pharmacy technician. During that time, I saw umpteen people come through the pharmacy with altered prescriptions for narcotics. If a person goes to the dentist and comes up to the counter with a prescription for 100 Percocet, then you should definitely be suspicious. That actually happened once. The prescription had been written for 10, not 100. The person wasn't even smart enough to use the same color ink when they tried to add the extra zero to it.
That wasn't the only such incident, either. Only once did we have a situation where a certain doctor was prescribing narcotics willy-nilly. The pharmacist decided not to fill any more narcotic prescriptions from this particular physician because of all the addicts that were coming in with 100 tablet prescriptions from him. Eventually, he was investigated by the government and they put a stop to his ability to prescribe narcotics.
I really hate the fact that there are doctors who are prescribing carelessly or, worse yet, making money by illegally selling prescriptions to people who simply seek to abuse them. Still, as bad as that is, being a drug addict seems a lot worse than simply being a rogue doctor. I have a real fear of becoming like that one day. My doctors say that's pretty much impossible given the medication in question and my reason for taking it. As long as you take it when you're in pain, you won't get addicted to it, according to them. I guess my worry is irrational but I just can't shake it from my head.
Maybe it has to do with the drug abuse I've seen. One of my best friends from high school became addicted to crack cocaine while attending university. Another guy that I dated for awhile but finally settled down and became friends with was a frequent drug user. It didn't seem like that big a deal to me at the time because he seemed to have it so under control. He was a university student attending school on a scholarship. He maintained good grades and he had the body of an athlete. He never exhibited any of the ugly symptoms of drug abuse Unfortunately, he's now sitting in a state prison for a crime that he committed while he was high. As it stands, he will spend the next few years in jail for something that I know he wouldn't have done if he was sober. My friend from high school is now drug free, married, and the mother of three children but her drug use did leave her permanently altered mentally.
Personally, I don't understand why people even want to abuse Percocet and other narcotics. After my first and second surgery, I was prescribed Percocet for the pain. It tore up my stomach and it was months before I could take them without feeling really sick. If the pain hadn't been unbearable, I would have chucked that prescription down the porcelain throne in the bathroom. Eventually, I was able to switch to something a lot less potent. Then I reached this plateau where the pain stopped decreasing. Now I'm left with a good deal of pain every day. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the pain at all. Hey, you have to survive something in order to hurt from it. I'm thankful just to be here.
There are two main reasons why I really want to be off of the meds. The first one is that it makes me tired. I don't consider it really ideal when the only way to get rid of pain is to take a medication that will cause me to sleep through half of its effectiveness. I'm trying to finish up school so that I can move on to a few other things but being drowsy and medicated all of the time means that I can't do a lot of the things that others do. Driving is out of the question. Now, try being a non-driver while living in a semi-rural area where the closest bus stop is three miles away. I have great family. The German usually takes me where I need to go but in order for me to finish up in college, I need to be able to get back and forth to campus while he's out at work. We're still trying to figure out how to deal with this obstacle.
The second reason I want to be med-free (or at least free of the strongest one) is a bit different. I really hate explaining to people what medications I take. It's impossible to hide the fact that I take medication because I have to take them so frequently throughout the day. And I think people "mean well" when they ask me about what I take. However, when I answer their question, they act like I just said that I'm shooting up morphine or something. So, what is the name of this horrible drug? It's Lortab.
I think this reaction that I get is because of popular culture. In one of the areas where The German works, there is a mobile home community. Unfortunately it's not a nice one (We do have some mobile homes that obviously cost more than some of the regular homes). The police are always going into the community for drug busts because of the jerks that create Crystal Methamphetamine labs out there because it's a bit remote. Then there's all the songs that glorify the use of drugs. I used to enjoy all of those songs until I had VanGoghGirl and now I can't stand any of it.
Anyway, most people don't know a whole lot about Lortab but they do know that it's a narcotic and that's enough to induce a really surprised reaction. Explaining why I have to take it really didn't seem like a big deal at first but now that I'm a few years into my treatment, I'm really a bit tired of it all. I just want to be able to live my life without constantly wondering if I have enough of my medication in my pill box to get through the entire day's activities and then worrying that I might have forgotten the box altogether. Trying to get my medication filled at the local pharmacy is problematic too. My doctor had to write on the prescription that these were prescribed because I have cancer. However, they still give me the skeptical look when I come in with prescriptions. I guess that's karma at work for all the folks I gave the same look to. Fortunately, The German is pretty good about going down there and cause a ruckus until they get it all right.
Well, now that I've taken my meds, I'm starting to get tired. Maybe I'll update tomorrow.