Department of Medicine

The Opioid Chapters: Chapter 4 - Dan

Nov 21, 2018
Healthy Debate

Dan suffered a back injury five years ago while on the job as a paramedic. After trying numerous treatments, he has found that opioids are the only treatment that dulls his pain. He is worried that Canadian doctors are being pressured to not use opioids, even when they work.

I worked as a paramedic. We were in the ER unloading a patient who had fallen off a roof from a car. He was immobilized on a board and we were sliding him out of the vehicle when he suddenly became uncooperative. In the effort to keep him on the board, I hurt myself. I was able to gather myself and get him inside. But that’s when the injury hit me; I was on the verge of collapse. Over the course of my career I have injured my back four times, but this time, instead of slowly getting better, it just kept getting worse.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board was pushing me to go back to work but I couldn’t. I felt there was something terribly wrong. My doctors did an MRI and some special X-rays and came to the conclusion that when I am standing, I have three herniated discs in my back. And there’s an unexplained muscle spasm in my back that’s progressed. One surgeon said he can put two rods in my back to make me stand straighter, but when he puts in the screws, he might create more pain than he is resolving. So I haven’t had surgery. The opioids worked; they are about the only thing that has worked. But my tolerance increased and I needed more. So then it was like, “OK, this is going in the wrong direction.”

Faces of Opioids - Dan

Read Dan's story on The Opioid Chapters

The Opioid Chapters is a collaborative project by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN) and Healthy Debate: Faces of Health Care. This project was created to release a special edition series of interviews and multimedia content with individuals across Ontario who have lived experience with opioids, as well as other perspectives from physicians, community workers and family members.