Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 3 2017 - Page 31

PATIENT PERSPECTIVES “Anything to be Numb… Anything to Fill Me” Road to recovery started with understanding pain By Stuart Foxman Natalie Hache said she used opioids to soothe both her physical and psychological anguish. PHOTO: SPUN CREATIVE Last year, when her brother had a bulging disc and needed back surgery, Natalie Hache was in the room when the doctor discussed pain relief. She recalls how carefully the doctor presented the option of an opioid. “He said ‘I don’t like giving this medication, but I know it will help you. I also know you can’t take it for long.’ Because of my experience, I had so much respect for that doctor. If someone had said that to me, I might have said, okay, what else can we do? But nobody did.” Instead, 14 years ago Ms. Hache started her own opioid journey. It’s one that eventually led the Thunder Bay resident, now 43, to addiction, recovery and insight into how to cope with pain. All sorts of pain. In her 20s, Ms. Hache was working two jobs, waitressing and bartending. She was on her feet all the time. Her back started to hurt, then she got hit with sciatica so bad that she couldn’t even get out of bed. At 29, she got a prescription for Percocet. Her doctor didn’t talk about the risks. She didn’t know anything about the drug. A solution was offered, and Ms. Hache took it. “I was ignorant. I didn’t understand what I was taking, let alone the effect it was having on me. I was just happy I wasn’t in pain.” Over time, the effect of the dosage waned. Ms. Hache started taking more and more to get through her shifts. Seven months later, someone told her that if you crush and snort the drug it will work faster. “It did,” she says. “By then, I had pretty much figured out that I was hooked. But I wasn’t willing to accept that it was a problem,” says Ms. Hache. “In my twisted thinking, I thought it’s okay, it’s a prescription, and I’m not doing anything illegal. My doctor gave it to me.” She had refills for nine months. When she returned to her doctor, she told him that she was using the Percocet more frequently and running out sooner. She didn’t say anything about the crushing and snorting. The doctor cut off her prescription, and wanted to start her on OxyContin. Ms. Hache knew of a woman on OxyContin whose addiction had ruined her life. She refused to go on it. “I didn’t want to be a junkie,” she says. So she left the doctor’s office, and then became one anyway. Tuned out traumas Long before her back problems, Ms. Hache was no ISSUE 3, 2017 DIALOGUE 31