Category Archives: Drug Shortages

Chronic pain is ruining my make-up

These past few months have been hell for me, which I am sure quite a few of you are aware of, if you follow my tweets. First it started with a particular drug manufacturer to all of a sudden, without notice to its customers, stop making the one and only muscle relaxant that I have been on for years. Some of you may wonder, what is the big deal? Well, there are literally only a couple of true muscle relaxants on the market, and the other one, it seems I am allergic to it, causing me to sleepwalk up to four or five times a night. Hubby was very afraid of me falling down the stairs or burning the house down.

During this time, my medications have been increased, changed, stopped and restarted, all just enough to completely mess with me. There was the time I went through withdrawal, where my husband sat by my side, rubbed my back, telling/reminding me to breathe while holding a bucket so I could puke up nothing, listening to me cry in pain wanting to just give up because I was hurting so much (if my daughters are reading this, no I wouldn’t have given up, I was just venting so don’t worry).

In effort to alleviate the pain caused by the constant muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders, which gradually grow down my back, I first went to massage therapy, something I clearly cannot afford, only to have the massage therapist make me worse. Thus I went back to physiotherapy something I admittedly hate, having been in and out of treatment since my first accident when I was 17. There isn’t a machine/device that hasn’t been tried on me, but given the amount of pain I have been in, I thought I would give it another try. The physiotherapist I am seeing, I saw a few years ago, so she remembers my body well.

One of the first things I was put back into was traction. Oh, so much fun. Your head is literally put in this ridiculous contraption with a heating pad wrapped around your neck whilst being pulled up and down. Twice a week for a month, followed by massage and more heat. I forgot, when I first arrive I have a set of exercises to do, tailored to how much I can move, which isn’t much some days. The traction didn’t help, it caused more pain. Some pain is good, but too much pain is bad. Next we tried acupuncture. She put a whopping four needles in me, two at the base of my head, then two at the base of my neck. By the time I arrived home, I was in misery. The pain had quadrupled, and for the next twenty-four hours, I ate as many painkillers as possible. Now, I was quite willing to give this a second try but my therapist said no because I had had such an adverse reaction.

This week when I arrived for my usual appointment, and was trying to do my exercises, my physiotherapist made the mistake of asking how I was? I don’t really know what happened but the tears flowed, down my cheeks, ruining my make-up, you see my neck muscles had been inflamed for days. After finishing my exercises, I had my massage, and she asked if I wanted to try laser treatment? Why not? So a zap here, a zap there and there, all completely painless. In basic terms, the theory of the laser is to break up the inflamed cells, to promote the healing process so my muscles can relax. It was hours later when I noticed the inflammation had actually decreased some. I had my second laser treatment today, a lot more zapping.

Note: After leaving physio, I went to pick up one of my prescriptions and spoke with my pharmacist, a lovely man. He has been researching medications for me, and in that process, found out that another company is now making my original muscle relaxant. He will fax my physician on Monday for a script and have it filled for me asap.

Drug Shortages

I don’t often write about my own pain, I guess because it is such a part of my everyday life, I try not to dwell on it. I also don’t remember the last pain-free day that I have had, but it has been years. So for me to cope with each day, I take a variety of medications but even then it is still difficult, the pain is never completely gone. As I sit here typing my neck muscles and the muscles between my shoulder blades are in spasm. I have taken my breakthrough meds and have had heat on my neck and back all night to no avail. The worst thing though, is I only have a few pills left to control the muscles spasms that are a constant problem throughout my body.

Drug shortages became a problem in Canada a few years ago for various different reasons. To try to inform the public of this problem the Canadian government set up a website listing the various shortages but this is a voluntary list. Since it is voluntary, some companies do not list the shortage, thus both doctors and pharmacies have no idea if the prescription they are writing/filling is in stock. So when I went to renew my muscle relaxant, the pharmacy was only able to fill a quarter of the prescription. The pharmacist was great, literally phoning all the pharmacies in Hamilton and the actual manufacturer of my medicine, but alas, none were to be found. As a result, my family doctor had to write a different prescription for me. This is a problem because for me to change medicine’s I have to be weaned off one before I start the other, so my body doesn’t have a complete freak out and when you find out at the last-minute that your meds are not available, well you’re screwed.

Is there a solution for the drug shortages in Canada? Should the government make it mandatory for drug companies to list a shortage?

Update: Here are two articles in regards to drugs shortages in Canada:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1307739–voluntary-drug-shortage-reporting-approved-despite-health-canada-s-concerns

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1309265–manitoba-woman-suffered-ear-damage-from-substitute-drug-taken-during-shortage