Living With Pain Without Opioids

Jul 27, 2018, 9:17 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – “Eventually I just thought I’m gonna die if I don’t change.”
For two years, Lynley Murphy said, she stopped smiling.
“I love music and I never listened to music,” Murphy said.  “I just couldn’t handle anything that was beyond just concentrating on the pain because it was so all-consuming.” 
In 2009 the Utah Valley public health instructor, healthy and active, hit a pothole while bicycle racing, fell and shattered her coccyx.   Over time her L5 vertebrae shattered.
“I was in so much pain that I took a medical leave I was flat in bed for about six months that level of pain,” she said.
Her doctor prescribed took Oxycodone and OxyContin.
“I was getting really concerned because as a public health professional I knew I was not in a good place but I couldn’t imagine not having help because I was in so much pain,” she said.   “Eventually I just thought I’m gonna die if I don’t change.”
She found Dr. Robin Ockey at Utah Valley Pain Management who took her off of the two opioids and replaced them with a third, safer medication and a menu of pain relief strategies – physical therapy, cognitive behavior counseling, radiofrequency lesion, steroid injections and other treatments.  She’s also used yoga, mindfulness, chiropractic treatments and acupuncture.
What we want to do is have people learn to manage the pain, to minimize the consequences of the pain so that it doesn’t impact your life,” Ockey said.
“The most important thing is education.  When patients are educated, really educated and they really understand the consequences,” he said, “they make better decisions.
Murphy said the approach worked.
“I never thought that I can kind of get back to the place where I had a good quality of life again,” she said.   “It’s never gonna be the same because I have some limitations now but I can be pretty active and do a lot of things.”
This August she is scheduled to take her last dose of opioids.
Now Lynley Murphy is listening to music and smiling again.  She still has pain, but she is coping with it without opioids.
Check out more stories of overcoming addiction in KSL’s Healthy Mind Matters series:

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