I’m pretty angry… today I’m more convinced than ever the Government has a bias toward protecting stupid people…
The whole point of this blog is so I can talk about my Chronic Illness without forcing the details on people who don’t want to know – if you’re here I assume you’ve come looking. So, obviously, I’m chronically ill. With chronic illness comes chronic pain. With my particular chronic illness I can’t take a lot of everyday pain killers. I’ve been particularly vigilant over the last 6 months so I don’t cut my remission short prematurely over something stupid like a painkiller. I mean – I’m not sure that I’m still in remission – but I can’t really take the chance. Downside is I’m still getting sick – I’m sick right now.
Being sick, my shitty, over the counter pain killer usage has been higher than normal… I ran out of Panadol… so down to Woolworth’s I go to get some more… My husband was with me and not having my issues his painkiller of choice (for headaches in particular) is Aspirin (a non-steriodal anti-inflamitory and blood thinner). Both pain killers were on sale so we grabbed 4 packs each. We get to the “do it yourself” register and upon scanning the first pack of Panadol (after the Aspirin) alarms were set off… I just thought there was some scanning error. Apparently not. New guidelines have been past were you can only purchase 4 packs of over the counter painkillers a day from the one store. I lost my temper. I shouldn’t have lost it at the poor girl at the check-outs – but I had every right to be annoyed.
When we got home I was reminded that I’m against excessive use of painkillers because of the effects on the users bowel. Yes, that’s true. But it’s mainly for Morphine and Codeine based drugs. There is not enough information available to the people prescribed these medications – if I wasn’t in the position I was in I would have never known what I know. Here’s the short, short version: Codeine and Morphine based pain relieve have a negative impact on your bowel – to a lesser extent so do NSAI (non-steriodial anti-inflamitory). They slow your bowel down – so you can get constipated. For more frequent or heavier use it can result in swelling of the bowel and bleeding. The effects of over use of high end pain relieve can mimic some Crohn’s/ Colitis symptoms. Paracetamol is the only thing we can pretty safely take – its also pretty useless. But – its something. Most people don’t know they’re harming their bowel by talking more powerful painkillers – well, most people aren’t on them long enough to do permanent damage. Sure, they’ll feel a bit heavy and sluggish, but not to the point they’ll actually feel or be sicker. Putting a limit on, for the most part pretty innocuous over the counter drugs isn’t going to help… after all, I needed the Panadol so we stopped at another store on the way home to get it… it was inconvenient and embarrassing, but I got what I needed regardless. Bans and limits aren’t going to work – education is the key. I’m still surprised at how many people I teach about not being able to overdose on different drugs (ie Panadol is Paracetamol, Nurofen is Ibuprofen – you can take both at the same time with no risk of overdose but double your pain relief). I’m not talking about the “medication guidance notes” no one reads them… I’m talking about cold hard education that gets through to people.
Although I’m sure some people have accidentally taken too many over the counter painkillers – I don’t see a dramatic increase of death or serious illness from Panadol overdose… People who physically want to overdose – don’t do it with Panadol or Nurofen or even Aspirin. They do it with harder – more damaging drugs… I’m not even questioned when I pick up huge prescriptions of Prednisone or Mercaptopurine…. drugs which I could easily do serious damage to myself with. So what’s the go? Do the pharmacists even know what they’re dispensing half the time? Do they know what the stuff does? You get hauled over hot coals to get a pack of Pseudoephedrine to fight the flu but collect enough corticosteriods to put down a horse and they hand them over with a smile and wave at you as you exit the store? The prevalence of drugs like Endone and Oxy in society and the way those very serious drugs are regarded is testament to how backward we have it. I’m all for regulation – but regulation with education… and on drugs that can actually do serious damage not to mention the threat of serious addiction – Panadol does not fall into these categories.
So Woolworth’s, you can stick your painkiller limit up your arse… Australian Government, wise up. Tackle the actual problem rather embarrassing people like me who not only know what I can take but how to take it safely.