Postsurgical Recovery Without Opioids: My Own Story
Postsurgical Recovery Without Opioids: My Own StoryAugust 31st, 2018 by Cindy Perlin
Two weeks ago I broke my ankle. Because of my knowledge of and commitment to alternative pain treatments I decided to handle this situation without opioids. I posted last week about my handling of the first week post-injury and pre-surgical. This post is to describe my postsurgical experience with pain management.
The surgery for my broken ankle on 8/24 included insertion of a plate and six screws. The surgery was the easy part. Two seconds after the anesthesiologist came in I was out cold and when I woke up everything was done—my foot was wrapped in bandages and in a surgical boot. My entire leg was numb from the anesthetic. I was given prescriptions for oxycodone, gabapentin (for nerve pain), ibuprofen, aspirin (1x a day to prevent blood clots), and Vitamin D with instructions to return in two weeks. No weight bearing for four weeks.
Once I got home I was determined to avoid both the oxycodone and gabapentin. I spoke with an occupational therapist who had been helping me and she yelled at me about my decision not to take the oxycodone. She told me that untreated severe pain can cause changes in the brain that can cause the pain to become chronic. She also told me that when she had surgery it wasn’t until day 3 that she started hallucinating from the opioids and thought her husband lay dying in one room while her son was being stabbed to death in another. Somehow, her account didn’t convince me to take the opioids. I know that untreated pain that is severe can cause brain changes, but I also know that there are many other ways to treat pain than opioids and that using opioids for acute injury also increases the chances that acute pain will become chronic.
I decided that for the first couple of days I would throw everything I had at the pain except for the prescription meds. I did take the ibuprofen and some acetaminophen because I knew that the National Safety Council had research that said that the combination actually worked better than opioids for acute pain. I also used CBD oil for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. I also threw in homeopathic remedies hypericum for nerve pain, ruta for inflammation and arnica for muscle pain. I took some kratom also. I used my Oska Pulse pEMF device, which can work through the surgical boot and I also used my LED light therapy device on the other parts of me that were getting stressed because of moving around on only one leg. I did some energy psychology work on myself briefly to address the trauma of the fall and being injured as well as the surgery.
After two days I discontinued the ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Two days ago I got some medical marijuana edibles through a caretaker’s connection with another patient with a medical marijuana card and substituted it for the CBD oil.
Throughout it all, I have had pain levels mostly in the 0-3 severity range. My mood has been good and I have been feeling relaxed. The medical marijuana has definitely helped with sleep too. Yesterday I started seeing some clients again with an assistant to help me with tasks I can’t manage on one leg.
My main difficulty is that I live and work alone and getting the help I need to manage tasks I can’t has been a challenge. Also, I discovered that my home is not handicapped accessible because the doorways and angles make using a knee scooter or wheelchair impossible so I’m limited to using crutches (too unstable) or a walker. My butt also hurts from sitting around on it so much. As far as pain from the surgical site—doing good!