In The Name of Adequate Pain Control

Back in May, I booked a flight to Alaska and told my friend Samantha I was coming for her and her mountainous stomping grounds. That was before my summer went to shit.

I've been hospitalized three times in the past three months. My pain has been more or less out of control for three months. And though my systemic autoimmune arthritis appears to be "stable" in terms of keeping further joint/organ destruction at bay (thanks to Methotrexate and Remicade), I've still been fighting pain like hell.

Contrary to what the media represents, patients have a love/hate relationship with those things called opioids, too. Medical professionals aren't the only ones with valid concerns. For me, it's Percocet in particular. This medication has helped me to participate in life when nothing else could and I'm truly thankful for it. On the other hand, I'm sick and tired of defending myself and my responsible use of it as a chronic pain patient. Anything for a good headline though, right?

At the end of the day, Percocet is another tool for me at this stage in the "game" that is my disease management. It's a tool for me because I want so desperately to LIVE by being present for moments in my everyday life but cannot do so when the pain I experience is so deafening and distracting. I use this tool far less than I use mindfulness exercises, running, journaling, and meditation (the list goes on); but I use it nonetheless.

Before jumping a plane to Juneau, I had a handful of follow-up appointments to get to. I was particularly nervous about seeing my new pain management provider as I knew it would require a conversation about "options." I was really hesitant at first-- even debated "sugar coating" the description of my pain out of fear I'd be labeled a drug-seeking individual. But then I remembered this trip, and how desperately I need to soak it up without grappling with severe pain.

So, I spit it out. The conversation went like this:
Me: "I'm going to Alaska tomorrow. For 9 days. And I really want to enjoy my time there without breakthrough pain." 
Dr. P (with the biggest smile on her face): "Kenzie, what do you need to enjoy the hell outta this trip?'

I know, right? I'm still in shock too. A doctor who finally saw me for ME. And is just as determined to get me to a place where I can PHYSICALLY experience the immense joy a life of travel has to offer.

A suitcase, backpack, some belongings, and bottle of Percocet later and I was on my merry way. I made it into Juneau late last night. Slept in this morning, took my meds, and have spent the day in the library just down the street. Tonight is all about getting out on the boat, doing some fishing (hopefully), and whale watching.

My health has dictated a little too much of what I do/who I am this summer...so I decided to fight back. Life has been hard lately. That's a fact. But love is real, peeps. Good things happen. Joy is possible. I may always be sick, but I will also always be Kenzie.

This is what beating the odds looks like...all in the name of adequate pain control. Thank you, Dr. P.