Spinal Surgery Recovery - Meds

Another topic I was wondering about prior to my surgery and that I've seen a lot of discussions started about is medications during recovery. What do you get, how much do you get, and are you going to get addicted.

In my first few cursory searches about meds after surgery, I got really concerned about addiction. Getting put on narcotic pain killers for months didn't sound appealing to me.

In my case, most of the commonly prescribed pain killers make me vomit. Through trial and error over the past few years, I learned that Percoset won't make me barf. But that's all I had experience with.

Let me take a few steps back.....

So, after surgery, I was hooked up to an IV for my pain meds and was given a button I could press every 12 minutes for another dose of Dilaudid.  Like most narcotics, the Dilaudid made me nauseous, so I was given anti-nausea meds via IV as well. On day 3 I was taken off the IV and moved to oral meds. I was given Oxycontin, 20 MG every four hours.

The Dilaudid did pretty good for the pain. At the end of day 2 and on day 3, I was watching the clock for those 12 minutes to go by. I think it was because I had started getting out of bed and my PT was forcing my movement a bit much. Moving to the oral meds helped for longer. Although, it was still pretty bad when I switched to the oral meds and into day 4, so I was given Valium every 6 hours to supplement the Oxycontin.

I only took the Valium until I came home. Once I was home, I think I took the Oxy on the every four hour schedule for about three or four days until I got sick of waking up at night and interupting naps.

My first cut was cutting the pills from 20mg to 10mg every four hours. Then a day or so later I cut out the night pills all together, and I was sleeping 7-8 hours a night.

By week two, I cut down to three pills a day. Once in the morning, once mid day and once at bedtime. So, 30mgs total a day.

Week three, I tried to go down to 2 pills a day but I hit a bit of a pain plateau for a couple of weeks and I just could not break through that 3 pills a day threshold. I'd get a good 6 hours in and I was just gritting my teeth and struggling.  So I kind of gave up.

At four weeks, I saw my doctor, who refilled my script, but instead of 10mg tabs, he gave me 5mg tabs of Oxycontin. And I just went with it. Between week 4 and now (I'm writing this at 5 1/2 weeks out) I went from 3 10mg pills a day to, as of today, I'm down to 2 5mg pills a day.

I really think that if I were able to take Aleve, I might just be able to cut the Oxycontin all together. The pain is, now, mostly just discomfort. I'm trying to be careful not to let it get too out of hand, because I have a history of "handling" pain for too long and letting it get way too bad.

I can take Tylenol, but I tried that a week ago and it just did nothing for me, which is consistent with my history with Tylenol.

So thats where I'm at......from 120mgs out of the hospital, to 10mgs a day. At the rate things are going, I'll probably try to just stop cold turkey next week, with a plan to use on an "as needed" basis since I don't have a lot of other pain management options.

I haven't felt any addiction issues.....I haven't recognized any withdrawal issues as I've decreased my dose, but maybe it's because it's been fairly gradual and I haven't been using the drugs that long.

I am trying to move to more holistic pain management as well. I use a lot of ice and heat and I find that helpful.

So there's that. That's been my experience so far with the meds. I went into this with the idea that I was going to try to be on prescription meds for as short a time as possible, so I've just been working towards that since I got out of the hospital. I really really really really believe in thinking positive about stuff like this.


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