by Terri Martinez
September 25, 1999
“It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. They lied to me. If I had been physically able, I would have committed suicide”. Quotes from my new friend that had the Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox procedure last Tuesday.
She went to a small hospital in Richmond, VA to have the procedure. Within the past year and a half, she has slowly tapered from 90 mgs. to 35 mgs. She has been on MMT for five years. On Tuesday morning, after prep work, they put a diaper on her, and proceeded with the anesthesia. The procedure started at 7:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m. she awoke from the anesthesia. She told me she had an excruciating burning sensation in her back and legs. Her mouth and throat were blood-filled. She had many broken capillaries in her face, tremendous cramping and nausea. Her blood pressure was extremely high and her temperature varied between 104-106 degrees. She did have convulsions. She stated that it was the worst pain she had ever experienced, much more intense than any detox she has had before.
She feels that the Drs. performing the procedure lied to her, as they did not prepare her for the pain and symptoms of withdrawal being so intense. These Drs. did keep her in the hospital for two nights. Many physicians that are offering the procedure send the patients to a hotel with a caretaker. She told me that there is no way her caretaker, her mother could have handled her, as she was delirious. She also said that the hotel her parents stayed at was on the 18th floor, and she was in the state of mind that she might have jumped out the window. She said this very seriously, as she does feel extremely depressed. EXTREMELY. It has been four days since the procedure, and she is still in pain, nauseous, has diarrhea, leg cramps, burning sensation in her back and legs and is very tired. The Drs. prescribed Librium, so she did sleep a few hours. I believe that she may have taken some benzos also. In the four days since the UROD, she has lost 40 lbs. Quick weight-loss. I did convince her not to have the Naltrexone implants, and she is taking the pills. The Dr. would not guarantee her that the UROD procedure or the Naltrexone would not damage her liver, as she has Hep C.
I met this woman soon before she had UROD. She is a wonderful intelligent person, and she has many personal reasons why she felt UROD was her only option at this time. She did tell me that she would definitely discourage anyone from undergoing UROD, and asked me to spread the word. She also mentioned that she could not imagine being on a dose higher than she was at 35 mgs. and having this procedure. In my opinion, after seeing her and hearing her story, she could have gone through withdrawal in a non-medical ‘detox’ center and not experienced any more pain than she did with the UROD procedure.
What follows is Sandra’s personal account of her experiences with UROD.
by Sandra (name changed to protect privacy)
September 30, 1999
The wonderful angel of mercy that runs this website has asked me write the story of my experiences with UROD. I am writing this five days after I had the UROD procedure. Last Monday I flew to Richmond, VA to have the so-called ‘miracle treatment’, Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox. After I woke up from the procedure, the pain and withdrawal symptoms were so bad I prayed I would die. Even now, five days later, I have NEVER felt so bad from any detox or withdrawal from any type of opiate.
Since I’ve had the procedure, I have read many stories on this and other websites. I, more than anyone, know the prejudices surrounding drug addiction. I am 36 years old, the mother of a seven and five year old and most importantly, I have been a Registered Nurse for sixteen years. I am also a Lactation Specialist and have more specialty degrees behind my name than the alphabet has letters. I took classes and obtained most of these credentials while on methadone. As a matter of fact, I was sent to Washington, D.C., chosen over 4000 other applicants, to create test questions for nurses preparing for special certification in OB/GYN care,
I originally got hooked on opiates after two pretty bad car accidents. During my recovery, I was given many pain killers. When I was recovered from the accidents, I went back to work with a box full of narcotics, which I needed just to feel good enough to take care of my patients. When my physician stopped writing prescriptions for me, I felt it necessary to medicate myself. Within a few months, I was prosecuted by my employer for theft of narcotics. I was made to go to an in-patient drug rehab for six weeks. I lost my apartment because I had to live in a half-way house for one year. I was also on probation with the Nursing Board for three years. I was required to give two UA’s per week, attend five NA/AA meetings and have psychiatric counseling weekly. I wish I could say NA/AA helps, but, it really is just some sort of substitution, in my opinion. One good thing that did result from this is that my, now seven year old son, was born drug free, but, now is diagnosed with ADHD. My employer did hire me back about a year after this incident.
In 1994 I became pregnant with my second child and had a horrible complication called Pre-eclampsia Toxemia. My blood pressure went sky-high, and I had unbearable migraine headaches. In the six weeks before her birth, my Dr. had given me several hundred Percocet. Even though I had taken prescribed narcotics during my pregnancy, my daughter was not tested for drugs.
After her birth, I went back to work. I had easy access to opiates, and my addiction worsened. I was very fearful of losing my job. I knew if I were suspected of using drugs, or taking narcotics from my place of employment, it would be the end of my career. This is when I decided to try methadone maintenance.
Methadone was a God send to me. I could inject my patients with the fully prescribed 100 mgs. of Demerol, and not be tempted to take any for myself. It was a miracle. I could work around opiates all day, and not want to use. The methadone completely curbed any narcotic craving.
A little over a year ago, the miracle came to an end. I had changed jobs, and was no longer around narcotics. I thought I would try to decrease my dose by 1 mg. a week. Two weeks after I started my detox, I began to get terribly ill, and felt extremely fatigued all the time. After a check-up with my Dr., I found out I have chronic active Hepatitis C. I can’t count the number of times I have had needle sticks or wiped up body fluids, but, every Dr. I see says, “You got this from IV drugs, didn’t you?”. But, even worse than that, my Dr. would not let me start the Interferon treatment which I need so badly to treat my Hep C, until I detoxed from methadone. I was told it is a contraindication. So, I continued going down 1 mg. in my dose weekly until I got to 32 mg. I was having withdrawal symptoms. That, combined with Hep C symptoms made me almost unable to work. I felt I was going to lose my job as I started to miss work, fall asleep at work and could not perform the duties expected of me.
I am married to a bum of a husband who hasn’t worked in eight years. But, as sick as I am, even a bum is nice to have around to help with the house and the kids. If I didn’t continue to work, my kids didn’t eat, we might have lost our home, cars, etc. I begged my Dr. to put me on short term disability because I had become too ill to work. He hemmed and hawed around for two months, and then told me I had to have a psychiatric evaluation. After the evaluation, the Dr. told me I had to detox from methadone for him to continue to treat me. The psychiatrist approved disability for four weeks only with the stipulation that I detox from methadone. He also required me to take Lithium every day. My diagnosis for the disability was Manic-Depression. I am no more manic depressive than the Man in the Moon…but, many Drs. think people with addictions have some type of dual diagnosis.
Since the UROD procedure, I have found out that the side effects of the Interferon may be tolerated better if I were on methadone. I have also learned that methadone is NOT contraindicated with the Interferon treatment. If the side effects of the Interferon treatment are as horrible as UROD, I have a fear that I will end up just another dead junkie.
It has now been five days since the UROD, and I still sometimes think a gun may have been a better option. Dr. Coleman in Richmond, VA did the UROD procedure. The day before the procedure, I had a mini-physical, blood work, gave a UA and an EKG. This was done at a very small 80 bed community hospital. The day of the procedure, I was taken to a pre-op area, where I was put in a gown, and they put a diaper on me, and I was stuck by needles numerous times for IV’s. After that, I was pumped full of Valium-like drug, and I didn’t remember anything until I awoke six hours later. When I woke up, I was in Hell. My legs, feet, butt, and back of my arms felt as if they were on fire. It was like lying on a bed of hot coals. They injected me with Benadryl and Catapress. My blood pressure skyrocketed and my temperature was 105 degrees. My mother was required to stay with me in the hospital as my support person. She told me I had convulsions and was delirious for 36 hours, and then slept for the next 36 hours. The procedure costs $3,100. I had to spend additional time in the hospital, so that cost will be added onto the bill. There was expense for car rental, hotel for my parents, and airfare.
As an RN, I would NEVER recommend anyone have this procedure. If you must detox from methadone, do it very slowly. No one should have to endure the pain of UROD. To wake up with all of one’s pain receptors blocked, and not be able to take any meds that will help, is a nightmare. I would not wish this procedure on my worst enemy. May God walk with you and I know for a fact God loves and cares about us just as he does the “non-addict”.