SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Continuing our courageous conversation, living with pain is no easy task and it’s why so many turn to painkillers for relief.

But KOLR10’s Melanie Chapman spoke with a woman who is looking for a different solution.

51 year old Patty Bousman says she lives in constant pain and has for decades. 21 years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Bousman said, “The only part of my body that doesn’t hurt from fibro are the tops of my feet, my throat and my face.”

She has been on prescribed pain medications all these years.  Most recently she was prescribed oxycodone. She wishes she didn’t need to take any pills but believes this is the only way she can function.

Bousman said, “Think about this – if you were in pain the doctor says one pill, four times a day. You take it four times a day. You take it at 8, noon, 4 and 8. Well I’m sorry but my fibromyalgia doesn’t go to sleep for 12 hours. I wake up in the middle of the night crying from the pain but I can’t get into my medication because if I do I’m going to get short on it and I’m going to run out too soon.”

Everyday living is a challenge. She says daily chores like cleaning, running errands or anything physical can be hard. She gets angry with those who abuse opioids and use them for recreational purposes.

Bousman said, “When I take the medication it stops that shaking because it takes the edge off the pain. There is no euphoric fun, playful nothing when I take my medicine. I take it like it’s supposed to be taken and it takes care of the job. What I’m talking about is something that will never get better. Never. It’s going to get worse.  And I can tell you its gotten worse in the last three years because we had to up my dose. Which I did not want to do I love to be peppy, on the go, do things for others. That medicine is made for me and some other people that I know that suffer very much so from fibromyalgia or any other disease of some sort that is never going to get better. This is what I need to survive just like people need food to live. I can not function without it.”

But according to Mercy Health Psychologist, Deborah Kukal, who specializes in pain management, there is new research on opioids and it’s disturbing. It’s changing the way they’re being prescribed.

Kukal said, “What we have discovered is there is no research evidence that shows that opioids help with pain long term.  What the research does clearly show is that opioids increase depression, very strongly increased depression. Opioids increase sleep problems, though I’ve had so many patients say to me I can’t sleep without my opioids. It appears that way, and you take them and you feel better for a few minutes but in fact it disturbs sleep structure.”

Kukal talked about another study posted in the Journal of American Medical Association. Researchers followed hundreds of patients with long term opioid treatment and the findings were disturbing. They showed not only can long opioids make chronic pain worse they can lead to death.

Kukal said, “They showed a significant increase in all cause deaths. Not just death from overdoses but all cause death – heart attack death, heart cardiovascular death, just died because you quit breathing – those kinds of deaths. A significant increase, double the number of all cause deaths. So it changes your pain system, it makes you have pain long term and it’s more likely to cause you to die, not from overdose – that’s why your doctors concerned. Not because he or she thinks you are one of those people.”

Kukal says abusers need substance abuse treatment and that doctors truly want to help chronic pain sufferers. And if they stop prescribing them the intention is to help them.

Kukal said, “Its concern that we’re going to make your pain worse. We don’t want to make your pain worse, we want to make it better and we certainly don’t want you to die.”

Kukal looks to alternative solutions like exercise, non opioid medical interventions, meditation and changing the way you think about the treatment of pain. That’s something Patty hopes to do one day – conquer the chronic pain and live a healthier and more active life.

Bousman said, “I’ve done a lot of research on this fibro, big time, because I want it to stop. I don’t want pills anymore, okay. There are foods that are anti-inflammatory foods. If you really want to be well, you need to do the research. Taking a pill is just that, taking a pill.”

If you’ve missed any of our Courageous Conversation over the past month, we are airing a two-hour special on opioid addiction in the Ozarks on KOZL Monday night at 7.