“What do you know about OxyContin?” He asked. I could see pain written all over his face as he spoke.

I knew he had chronic back pain. Multiple surgeries. Injections. Physical therapy. More surgeries. A back stimulator. Nothing had worked.

He was family. 

I always tried to avoid talking about medicine at family gatherings and I especially tried to avoid talking about narcotics with family that was taking them, but something in his eyes made me answer.

“It is a pretty strong pain medication,” I answered. “Supposed to last twelve hours. You’re taking it?”

“I just started it a couple of months ago. I don’t think it’s working.” He paused as the waitress put down his food in front of him, a burger and fries, then placed a salad in front of me, making her way around the rest of the table. “I mean, sometimes it does. But when it wears off, the pain is worse than ever before.” His hands shook as he reached for the burger.

He was suffering. 

His face was gaunt. He had lost weight.

I didn’t know what to say. If OxyContin wasn’t helping, then there was nothing left for him. Nothing at all. I had no idea how to help. So I told him to follow up with his pain specialist pronto and changed the subject.

Several weeks later, he shot himself in the head with a rifle. It was in the early morning hours after a sleepless night, in the shed in his back yard. His wife woke up to the sound of the gunshot and found him there. 


Now, it is known that the manufacturers of OxyContin knew it did not last for 12 hours. It wore off much earlier. The withdrawals were terrible. They deliberately hid this information from physicians, using their drug reps to tell doctors to push the dose higher rather than dose more frequently, exacerbating the highs and lows. Read about it here.

How many other people, faced with this nightmare, also chose to die?

He was a good man. 

He was the victim of a botched back surgery and a greedy pharmaceutical company and it makes me angry. This is one of the reasons I don’t speak to drug reps that come by my office. They may have the best of intentions but they are still just pawns in a bigger game. 

In fact, perhaps we are all pawns.


141 thoughts on “Outside

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. This hit home as I had to fight with the doctors and nurses to stop them from giving my mum codeine based drugs as the side effects brought on the same symptoms she suffered from when she had her initial stroke. Can you believe that only after reading the handy booklet on side effects did the nurse agree to warn the doc to put it on her records that she should not take them. I still had to follow up whenever she visited the hospital.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow I’m on Perocette/Acetaminophen. I think that’s the same thing. It takes the edge of the lupus pain for maybe a couple of hours but definitely not 12. This is sad. I always take less then is prescribed. It took me a long time to accept that I needed this. One med I’ve now turned down twice is Prednisone. That stuff scares me and I can’t see how all the damage it does both long term and short term makes it worth taking. I’ve agreed to the perc, methotrexate and Plaquinel. I stay away from Naproxen do to it’s potential danger to kidney’s, but I’ll take minimal Advil and my anti seizure meds.. I’m a walking pharmacy but I do my homework so I’m informed, and I have a great relationship with my Pharmacists. I’m so sorry to hear what that gentleman did. I understand it though. His poor wife as well. It’ refreshing to hear about a Dr. like yourself who’s so careful and caring with your patients. You’re making a huge difference.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Victo, OxyContin is one of 7 drugs I detoxed off from and with no doctor to help me because the doctor who prescribed all those pills refused to help me. I almost died several times. I can attest I experienced every withdrawal symptom there is, for months. When it was over I had brain damage from all the seizures. I could not understand the written word and I forgot how to write. I fought back forcing myself to read and write. I had broken teeth in my mouth from the clenching and again seizures. I will never forget what that doctor did to me but being in so much pain I eagerly took those pills. Today that doctor is no longer allowed to prescribe medications. I have tears in my eyes because I understand why that man killed himself. May all that I do now represent those who loss the fight as I continue proving to the medical profession I am strong and need no more surgeries! Pain will drive anyone to desperate means.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I know on both counts. I consider myself very fortunate to be alive. Being an RN I had an idea of how to withdrawal from those pills, yet still I really almost did die. I do not have a high trust factor with doctors because of so many betrayals by them. I’m also very lucky to have the GP I do today who I can trust. Thank you for caring and taking the time to answer. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s really sad what these narcotics do to people. I would highly recommend the documentary “Prescription Thugs” on Netflix if you haven’t seen it. It talks about exactly this subject and has a lot of twists and turns in the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very sorry about that Victoire. I sympathise… Have had back pain for a while. And though i h
    Ave staunchly refused surgery not much has worked. Tradol is all right, and walking. And walking. And ignoring te beast when i can. I understand your relation. Also know there are lousy surgeons and greedy labs. daughter #1 and colleagues have to deal with both all the time.
    Really sorry for your loss…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It seems most prescribed drugs that are supposed to be a cure for what ails you has side effects giving you something as bad or worse than what ails you.

    Liked by 1 person

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