My name is Joelle and I live in Penticton, BC. I was diagnosed with Chronic Intractable Cluster Headaches 15 years ago. After a very long period of time visiting doctors, incessant testing, accusations and a generally very difficult period in my life I met the man, a doctor, who I believed to be my saviour. He understood the extent of my pain, he actually empathized - a rarity in the medical world it seems. I was finally actually being treated for my pain! With every complaint of my pain being untouched by the opioids I was on at the time, it was met with the same statement, lets up your dosage. Time, after time, after time, until I was ultimately on a dosage equivalent to 1400mg of morphine a day.
After many years, my doctor announced he was retiring and had to find another physician to take me on as a patient. This task was far for monumental than ever imagined. Nobody wanted a patient with the degree of pain I experience who was also, at this point, an opioid addict.
We finally found a doctor who would agree to take me as a patient on one condition, that we immediately begin to decrease my hydromorphone aggressively until I was finally off it completely. This began in May of this year. It's been an experience I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. The physical pain of detoxing often almost rivals that of my headaches, yet my greatest pain comes from neither of these experiences. My greatest pain... is a result of my husband's tragic suicide early into the process. That was in June of this year, on my birthday to be exact.
So the battle continues.
This featured story is part of Pain BC's chronic pain awareness campaign for National Pain Awareness Week (NPAW). Find out more about the campaign here.