Note – I am not a doctor of medicine and have no qualifications to speak on the subject of prescription medicines beyond my own personal experience. Further, I DO NOT believe that being in recovery is inconsistent with taking narcotics or other mood altering substances in medical treatment.
I had an interesting experience this past week with prescription medications. I had some minor surgery where normally the patient is put to sleep. I talked to the doctor in advance and discussed my preference for local anaesthetic only. He agreed that if I could handle the sense of hammering and grinding – but with no pain – then a local could work.
The surgery went well – perfect procedure. We discussed prescriptions needed after the surgery – an antibiotic and pain medications. The surgeon wrote me a prescription for some sort of narcotic if I found myself in intense pain, but also gave me a script for 800 mg ibuprofen. I very rarely take any sort of pain medication, even aspirin. The only time I have taken a narcotic in recovery was after a previous surgery where the throbbing was so great I could not sleep – took one pill – and flushed the rest.
This time I got all the scripts filled, and did one of those 5 second – even though I am not in any real pain, maybe I will take the narcotic just tonight so I sleep well. I ended up just taking the ibuprofen and left it at that. I woke up the next morning and was amazed at the lack of pain. I took the ibuprofen along with the antibiotic and followed the proscribed regimen. After three days I decided taking the ibuprofen wasn’t necessary as I was in no pain, so I stopped – then a mild pain that started – nothing unbearable – more just a minor soreness to let me know I had some surgery and it was healing.
I did not start back on the ibuprofen but had a sort of “aha” moment. When I noticed the slight pain my first thought was – I wish I had not masked this with the ibuprofen before – I need to know to take it easy a bit. That is, it is good to be in touch with my physical self as I go through the healing process. That has also been my response over the years when therapists offered to prescribe antidepressants – which I have always refused. For me, depression is a signal that I need to make some changes in how I am dealing with life on life’s terms. Depression has been the motivating factor in me dealing stagnation and unhealthy life situations. My logic has always been that antidepressants would mask that reality.
I tend to think of myself as a reasonably carefree and content person who is good at what they do, responsible, and therefore find myself in work and personal situations that can be stressful. My line goes something like “If the job were so easy and enjoyable that everyone wants to do it, there wouldn’t have been the opening that I applied for.”
What I have come to enjoy in recovery is the recognition that like all life situations, surgery has its consequences that must be dealt with. I have come to appreciate going through those processes in a mindful and present manner – whether in recovery from a surgical procedure or the processes of daily living. I also appreciate knowing when prescribed drugs, professional therapy, or other measures are needed in that process, I can make the choice to take advantage of them.