Dear Annie: I am livid about my 72-year-old mother's physicians. Over the past few years, they kept writing her more and more prescriptions for opioid pain medication, despite our expressions of concern. When she ran out of pills before she could get another prescription, she experienced full-blown psychosis. Patients need hospital care in order to withdraw safely from some of these medications.
We have spent uncountable, stressed-out hours over Mom's opioid addiction. Medicare has spent thousands of dollars, as have we. Last year, we were twice forced to hospitalize Mom involuntarily. In the interim, despite our clear communications, a psychiatrist wrote another prescription for one of the offending drugs. We thought that having it written in big letters on all her charts was enough. It wasn't. Needless to say, we changed all of her doctors. Again.
I know my mother is equally at fault, but she could not have gotten the prescriptions without a doctor who ignored our pleas. Mom now lives in an assisted living facility, where the staff understands our concerns. She is not completely pain-free, but she manages her pain effectively now with simple over-the-counter pain medication, heat, ice and rest.
We've learned that opioid drugs sensitize the nerves in such a way as to fool the body into craving more. This "rebound" pain is worse than the original. Why don't doctors tell their patients to come in if they have trouble discontinuing their meds? Shouldn't asking for higher and higher doses indicate a problem?
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We were fortunate that the physicians and nurses in the second psychiatric setting listened and worked with us to properly address Mom's complex medical needs. I want to shout from the rooftops: Doctors! Listen to your patients' families! -- Exhausted and Healing in Florida
Dear Florida: When taken as directed, opioids can be effective in dealing with chronic pain, even though the patient can develop a tolerance and even a dependence on the drug. But when you cannot function without it, or when you try to obtain the drug illegally or through multiple physician prescriptions, it is a full-blown addiction. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioids. We appreciate your warning and hope doctors are paying attention. For more information, readers can go to samhsa.gov.
Dear Annie: I have to respond to "A Daily Reader," who did not like her smile and wanted to know how to get people to stop asking her to smile.
I also did not like my smile. My parents divorced when I was a small child, and I was kept from my father until well into my 30s. When we finally found each other, I commented on the crooked way he smiled. He got out a picture of his grandfather and told me, "I have my grandfather's crooked smile and so do you."
It warmed my heart to know this trait was passed to me and no one could take it away. I am very proud of my crooked smile! -- Daddy's Girl
Dear Girl: That's a lovely reaction and it made us smile, too.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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