From Vicodin to Fentanyl Patches to Managing Chronic Pain with CBD
A Chronic Pain Warrior:
In today’s post, we interview Stephanie Cisneros, a chronic pain warrior that has seemingly gone through hell and back. At the ripe age of 18, Stephanie found herself pregnant and wheelchair bound after sustaining a triple pelvic fracture following a car accident. After years of being diagnosed with various injuries, from a broken coccyx to severe arthritis of the hip, rehab and experimenting with every over the counter pain relief pill, cream, and patch available, Steph went to her local pain clinic and was prescribed narcotics on the spot. We interviewed her to get the details of her incredible yet insanely difficult journey to find a way of managing her pain and health with holistic remedies, and eventually living opiate-free.
HT: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. Let’s start from the beginning. What exactly happened when you got in the car accident?
Steph: I had been t-boned by a car that was traveling an estimated 47 mph. Most of the accident itself I don’t recall, but I do remember being told that I was trapped in a 1 to 2-inch space between the car’s door and middle console. The doctors told me that after I was extracted from my vehicle, I was flown by helicopter to the hospital. I had a host of injuries, the most severe being a triple pelvic fracture, which in itself was bad enough, but being 7 weeks pregnant on top of it only multiplied the complexity of the injury. I had what is known as a “surgically placed pelvic fixator”, you should google it, it’s quite the device.
HT: Can you briefly explain what that is?
Steph: It is essentially a device that consists of surgical grade steel rods which were drilled through my pelvis, holding it together until my body healed. These rods were internal, but protruded out of my skin about five inches. I had this device in my body for 12 weeks, during which I used a wheelchair initially, followed by a walker. After 12 weeks, the rods were drilled out of my bones and skin while, get this…I was wide awake.
HT: Wow, that sounds terrifying and so intense. We are so grateful that you are here to tell the tale! So after all of this physical trauma, did you have a healthy pregnancy? How did your body handle the stress of pregnancy and birth?
Steph: Now 19 weeks pregnant I was able to walk on my own and prepare for the arrival of my baby. The baby’s due date was approaching, and I had anxiously asked my obstetrician if he was going to do a caesarian section. I was shocked when his answer was “no.” I was even more shocked and stressed when I was allowed to carry the baby two weeks past my due date. I had gained 50 pounds and was retaining water something fierce! I had a painful, but typical delivery. As I got home, I instantly noticed that I had excruciating pain near my backside. Unsure what was going on, I avoided activities that made it worse and mentioned it to my doctor at my six week check-up. An X-ray revealed that I had snapped my coccyx (tailbone) right off! I tried multiple methods to help my severe tailbone pain, which is when I was led to steroid injections 1 year after breaking my tailbone. I ended up getting 3 injections before the pain seemed to subside.
HT: Thankfully you got some relief. Did your body start to recover and your pain end there?
Steph: Fast forward to three years later, I started having an unusual amount of hip pain. There was grinding while I walked and my hip seemed to give out on me at random. After multiple gruesome tests (I’ll spare you the details) I had to have a surgery to repair a tear in the cartilage around my hip joint. In addition to my labral tear, I also had the start of hip arthritis at just 21 years of age.
HT: It seems like it’s just been one thing after another. What was your next step?
Steph: I spent the next several years going to the chiropractor for SI joint pain. I had experimented with every over the counter pain relief pill, cream, and patch available. My daily pain was interfering with my ability to work and enjoy life. It was at this point that I contacted a local pain clinic. They prescribed me Vicodin and Morphine at my first appointment.
HT: Those are two powerful and addictive painkillers. Did you finally find any relief?
Steph: At first, I found a lot of relief from the narcotic pain medication. It was wonderful to have such little pain! After some time my body had built a tolerance to the levels of opiates I was on, so the doctor had to increase my intake of Vicodin from one per day to two, from two to three, until one day I woke up and was cleared to take up to EIGHT Vicodin per day. That was the day I asked to be taken off of Vicodin, and looking back that was a great decision. However, my ride with prescription opiates was far from over.
HT: What do you mean?
Steph: For the next six years I was prescribed every opiate and muscle relaxant there was. I ended up on suboxone patches for four years until I hit my ceiling. The only step up was the fentanyl patch. This whole time, I had been doing regular steroid injections in my sacral-iliac joints, hip, and bursa. I had even done lidocaine infusions and radiofrequency nerve ablations at the pain clinic. I always listened to the pain clinic, because they were alleviating my pain. So when the fentanyl patch was prescribed, I wore that 24/7 too. After 11 months of being administered 100 mcg of fentanyl per hour, every hour, amid the opiate epidemic, I told my prescribing physician that I wanted to be taken off of my patch.
HT: Was it scary to make this jump?
Steph: I was scared beyond belief. If the pain had been as crippling as it was while I was ON narcotic medication, how bad would it be with no meds?!
HT: It’s unbelievable that you were so brave and self-aware, enough to want to take yourself off of those meds. Did you experience withdrawals?
Steph: It’s been a long, hard road, but I’m happy to say that today I’m three years opiate free! I no longer do steroid injections or radiofrequency nerve ablations either. The post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) was absolute hell, but it was so worth it. Throughout the years, I was also diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and fibromyalgia.
Managing Chronic Pain
using Natural, Holistic Methods
HT: Can you tell us what you use now to manage your pain and how you are sitting here to tell your story?
Steph: Today, I manage my chronic pain using natural, holistic methods. Not only do I live with less pain than I did while on narcotics; I am also stimulating healthy bone growth thanks to the healing properties in the mighty hemp plant.
HT: Hemp is truly an amazing plant! What exactly do you supplement with for anyone reading this with similar issues?
Steph: Full spectrum water-soluble CBD is the star of the show in my daily pain regimen. I drop it under my tongue twice a day and it has been life-changing in bringing my pain score from a 7-8, to a 1-2.
HT: Are there moments where the pain is unbearable? What do you do then if you don’t reach for pharmaceuticals?
Steph: Weather changes are not fun for my body; on those days I use topical Mary’s Nutritionals CBD Compound (a pain-relief cream).
HT: The success stories with CBD’s healing potential never get old. It’s wonderful to hear that it has been helping you so much not only on your road to recovery, but just to lead a normal life. Would you say it has helped you find a sense of normalcy after all you have been through?
Steph: Definitely. I’ve noticed that my CBD regimen alleviates the fatigue and brain fog that accompany my fibromyalgia. Today I am able to work, walk my dogs, play with my three kids, and I get to help other people who are where I was in navigating the road to chronic pain relief. I have energy, productivity, purpose, and a whole lot of hope for the customers I serve.
HT: Thank you so much for your willingness to share your incredible journey!
A huge thanks to Stephanie for her bravery in sharing her story with the whole world. Her positivity and determination to get to where she is today is so admirable! The mighty hemp plant that Steph refers to has been an ally to our team and community for many reasons. Not only can it help with uncomfortable symptoms, it can actually jump start or catalyze our body’s natural healing process.
If you have a story like Stephanie’s that you would like to share, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharing your story can inspire healthy change in someone else’s life!