Lisa Kehrberg, MD, Guest Columnist for Pain News Network recently shared her story on PNN and I thought it was worth sharing with our readers because it does seem that this fear of opioids or what many refer to as “Opioid Hysteria” in the media has gone too far.
“I’m a 43-year-old physician who retired due to illness at the age of 39. I have a rare genetic disease called acute intermittent porphyria (AIP), an extremely painful and disabling condition.
Due to an enzyme deficiency, AIP causes toxins to buildup in the liver. The symptoms of porphyria are primarily neurological with the most notable being abdominal pain — a burning sensation that is almost unbearable. The pain is similar to what I’d imagine it would feel like to have a blowtorch placed against my stomach and back.
Acute porphyria also causes peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet. Along with the pain comes severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness, motor neuropathy, and fluctuations in blood pressure and pulse. About 10 percent of AIP patients have a severe form of the disease referred to as “high excreter, recurrent attacks.”
Unfortunately, I am in that 10 percent.
Initially, I only had monthly attacks lasting 3-5 days, starting in my teenage years. Somehow, I managed to complete my education and training and became a physician despite that.
I was not finally diagnosed with AIP until the age of 39, when I suffered a life-threatening porphyria attack. It was almost too late for me at that point, as the attack was so severe that I was no longer able to work or do much at all. There is a one percent mortality rate during each AIP attack and I’ve had hundreds of them, so I’ve been lucky.
My older brother died unexpectedly at the age of 39. Genetic testing of autopsy samples later determined he had the same AIP gene mutation as I have. He died prior to my diagnosis and his gene mutation was discovered as I lay in a hospital bed being told my diagnosis.”
Read the full article on Pain News Network