Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 2004
Source: Compass, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2004 The Compass
Author: Valerie Kent
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


Harbour Grace Man Takes Controversial Drug For Chronic Pain

Oxycontin has received a lot of press and media attention this year -
most of it focused on an addictive drug destroying lives. The drug has
even been called a menace to society.

But for Wayne Dunphy of Harbour Grace, Oxycontin has been a

The painkiller has helped Dunphy live a somewhat normal life. But he
is still unable to mow the grass, shovel snow, or play sports with his
children. There are some days when he needs to be dressed and other
days when the pain is too unbearable to get out of bed.

After being employed as an ironworker for 22 years, Dunphy now has a
completely different lifestyle - one that centres on controlling his
chronic pain.

While on the job in Toronto in 1997, he fell, breaking both arms and
causing minor damage to both legs. His left wrist was crushed and
needed bone replacement from his hip. A carpal tunnel was done on that
wrist due to nerve damage.

Dunphy was 35 at the time. The pain in his left arm never went away.
He thought the pain was arthritis, and for years it went untreated.

In 1999 Dunphy returned to live in Newfoundland where "the pain and
symptoms were getting worse".

Shortly after he discovered he had Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Chronic pain RSD, also known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, is a
condition that leaves the body in constant agony.

When a person without RSD breaks an arm for example, the blood vessels
contract, forcing blood into the muscles. A signal is sent to the
brain, telling them they are in pain. Eventually the pain will go away
and the injury will heal.

For someone with RSD, the blood vessels can't stop contracting and
forcing blood into the muscles. Their injury heals but the signals
never stop, and neither does the pain.

RSD has now spread to all four of Dunphy's limbs.

For the Harbour Grace resident, Oxycontin has been the only helpful

"In the winter it's worse - the long sleeves and the heavy jackets....
and I'm sensitive to the cold. Its like a burning feeling, like
stabbing...I cant describe it," he said.

In RSD sufferers, the infected area can become swollen, discoloured,
is cold or hot to the touch and is extremely sensitive. The person may
feel tingling, aching, stabbing, burning or crushing in the area.

"If you don't treat it early enough it can spread...I wasn't diagnosed
until three years after my injury."

Dunphy tried several other treatments, but they didn't alleviate the
pain. With RSD sufferers, what works for one may not work for another.

"I tried nerve blocks, and patches but they did nothing for

Two years ago it was suggested to Dunphy that he try

"All you hear about are the negatives of Oxycontin. I still can't do
anything physical, but I can cope and carry on. It's the only thing
that has really worked."

But Dunphy also understands why there is such scepticism about taking
the drug as a painkiller.

"I agree with monitoring its distribution...we need to find out where
people are getting it. But if the medicine is used as prescribed...if
you abuse it of course you're going to have problems."

Studies have shown that most people who take Oxycontin as prescribed
do not become addicted. Abuse occurs when patients take more than is
needed for pain control. If someone is taking the drug in a manner
that grossly differs from a physician's direction, then they are
probably abusing.

But that is not an issue for Dunphy.

"I'm not going to worry about being addicted to it because if I didn't
have it I'd be in constant agony. Oxycontin does have a good side.
Without it I don't know where I'd be today. I just want to get that
message out."

He has been taking Oxycontin for over a year.

"It's still working. I take one tablet twice a day...they are 12 hour
time-release capsules. I don't get high or have any of those effects
from it. It just controls the pain."

When the pain is under control he is able to drive, go out and
socialize, and do things with his three children.

"Before I'd shy away from all that."

Bum rap Dunphy said he would be willing to try other treatments as
they become available. But until that happens, he will stay with the
treatment that's working for him.

"I wouldn't be able to function...or cope. It's funny what pain does
to you."

Dunphy's wife, Vickie is also upset about Oxycontin's negative

"Doctors may give Oxycontin to terminal cancer patients because
they're going to die in a couple of months. But for someone with
chronic pain who has 20 or 30 years to live - what are they supposed
to do?" asked his wife.

She is educated on the disease and the risks that come with the drug,
but she knows this is the best option for her husband as of now.

"All we can do is treat the pain. Right now it's working, but he still
has bad days," she said.

"I'm scared someday he'll end up in a wheelchair...we don't know
what's going to happen. But it's our life now...and we're happy to get
the good days."

Oxycontin, like any other drug, can be abused by anyone who wants to
abuse it, according to the Harbour Grace couple. But when used
correctly, it can save lives. It has given one Harbour Grace man a
quality of life he wouldn't otherwise have. 
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