Needing surgery in Recovery


Hi all ~

I currently in recovery and in a monitoring program. I am getting ENT surgery in a few days and will be under full anesthesia and am given a small supplement of pain meds post-operatively. I am an opiate addict in recovery and have been clean for 1 year now. It obviously makes me nervous about the surgery and using these medications but also importantly just how it would look to the monitoring program. I am obviously going to rely on NON-controlled pain meds but at the same time feel that if I'm in significant pain, should have the option to use it. My surgeon is aware. 

I have reached out to my monitoring program to briefly let them know but no response yet. I would obviously have all my proof of RX and medical record available to them but has anyone else been in a similar situation? I am going to continue to drug test as per usual and don't want any interruption. 

Just want to be as transparent and open as possible while still ensuring I can proceed without appearing like I'm "abusing" something I'm not supposed to use. 

Any advice/thoughts would be great. Thank you ? 


26 Posts

Programs typically require all meds/anesthetics that you received to be documented and provided to them.  If you are currently working as a nurse you generally cannot return to work until you test negative post-procedure for recent (urine testing)  medications that are not allowed in you program such as narcotics.  You would need to calculate that into your time needed off work post-op and expect possibly more frequent testing soon after your surgery.   Obviously all state programs vary. 


7 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

Sure. That all seems totally reasonable and that I'd have to be negative and probably get extra testing. I just wonder if they'd ever say that I just can't take pain med after surgery. Like if they can wield power like that if someone legitimately has pain. I don't know, I'm just concerned and scared both ways (if I can handle the pain without AND if its even worth taking if I could loose my job). 

Has 35 years experience.

I had surgery in monitoring and was given Tramadol post op. I asked for 10 pills on discharge. I was scared of cravings, etc. I took otc meds and the tramadol at HS so I could rest. Monitor had me send in scripts, etc. I did test positive for tramadol and they reported it as a negative. 


7 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

OK great. Thanks good to know!

I hope your surgery goes well!

I know if it were me I would not so much as LOOK at an unapproved med, whether post op or not, until your monitor approves it in writing in no uncertain terms.

I doubt they would outright tell you no narcs after surgery, but they could. I think the power is something they like to wield so communicating with them and not doing anything until they say you can will keep you below the radar, which is where you really want to be. 

1jewel, ADN

23 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 28 years experience.

I am in recovery as well, and had a total knee replacement in October. I talked with many knowledgeable people before my surgery.  For example, my nurse support facilitator, my sponsor, coworkers ( who are in recovery as well) my family, my surgeon etc...  I received a lot of good advice. I made the decision ahead of time, that if I absolutely needed pain medication I would allow myself.  However, I also knew that I absolutely did not want to start that vicious cycle all over again. I have been clean and sober for 4 years. 
Make sure you have a good support system. If you need pain medication, have someone hold on to it, and give it to you as prescribed. I am proud to say, I made it through my surgery, PT, and recovery without any narcotics!  I did take Tylenol and ibuprofen as needed. It was very difficult, but because I have a great support system, and I have the  tools I learned in my 12 step program I succeeded! 
Good luck with your surgery and your recovery. 

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

Back when (blessedly a few years now) I had an elective procedure. I had lost a large amount of weight, had an issue of excess skin. Since I wasn’t working at the time (I had given up fighting those idiots to get/keep the *** jobs that were only what was available to someone with the scarlet letter of a contract) I decided it would be a good time to tend to that. I went through the whole routine of faxing them copies of the benzodiazepine and the pain med scripts I was given. This was when I found out that half the people that managed us weren’t even nurses. I think they may have been social workers or something. I requested a 3 week break in monitoring because I would be unable to drive to go take a pee test as well as being on meds. Some dunce actually asked me if I was going to be in the hospital for 3 weeks. Um,’s outpatient. Geez. Read the paperwork you made me send you.
The end result was I still had to ‘check in’ but if I was ‘selected’ I could call and say something. Stupidest thing ever. I told them there was no way I was going to pay for piss tests that were going to be positive for something they already knew I was taking and taking for a good reason.

I think it comes down to them seeing how much control they can exude over people. Given that they can suspend check ins and the like if you leave the country, it could have been done for this too. Whatever. I was past being afraid of them by this point. I had put off so much self care, from letting the common cold turn into pneumonia because I was terrified of cold medicine to not drinking enough because I was terrified of dilute pee, I was just done with them and their idiotic ideas that for most folks, does more harm than help.