Vicodin + work = trouble.
April 22, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I have to take Vicodin for my pain, but it makes me want to pass out at work.

I have a mindsplittingly-painful toothache, and my appointment to get the tooth extracted is a whole 2 weeks away. In the meantime, my doctor's prescribed me Vicodin for the pain. It helps, as long as I stay on the stuff pretty much constantly. The bad news? This stuff makes me really drowsy and dizzy while at work, to the point where I could probably pass out if I close my eyes for 5 seconds. Coffee doesn't work for some reason.

Thank god I don't operate machinery or anything, but I do have a semi-important lawyer job that forces me to be alert and with-it for most of the day.

Just trying to weigh my options here. 1) Is there anything that will snap my senses back into place while on Vicodin? 2) Should I request a different painkiller? OTC stuff is useless but maybe there's a better prescription with less side effects? 3) 2 weeks seems like a long time for an appointment while I'm in moderately severe pain, but not sure what I can do there. My dentist won't budge on that date. If I call up another dentist they'd have to schedule an initial appointment, then schedule a 2nd appointment, and by then it would probably be longer than 2 weeks. 4) Any other ideas? Taking time off work is not an option. Thanks hive mind for helping with this silliness.
posted by naju to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Best answer: If I call up another dentist they'd have to schedule an initial appointment, then schedule a 2nd appointment, and by then it would probably be longer than 2 weeks.

Are you certain about that? I think it's at least worth a phone call or 2 to find out. I can't imagine waiting 2 weeks for a tooth extraction when you're in enough pain to need Vicodin all day!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:32 PM on April 22, 2009

Maybe lower your dosage a bit? What you are experiencing is variously called "nodding," "dipping," and "falling out" on the streets, it's a side effect of taking a high dose of opiates. Since you don't regularly use the drug you don't have a tolerance to it so even relatively low doses may have a similar effect.
posted by The Straightener at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2009

Best answer: Call another dentist. This is something that, at least with my dentists, gets taken care of next-day or at worst later the same week as an emergency appointment.
posted by zippy at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: yeah. That is ridiculous how bad your dentist sucks. Who makes a patient wait two weeks when they're in "mindsplitting pain???"

Call another dentist. In the worst case, find an "emergency dentist"- I'm sure they must exist for times like this.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2009

Yeah, call your doctor. Getting your pain meds switched is pretty easy, and as reactions of this sort are pretty common--this is why these drugs are prescription-only, after all--your doctor will be entirely unsurprised if you ask for a different option.

You can also see if you can get your appointment moved up. Many times they have cancellations or other openings in their schedule which open up on short notice.
posted by valkyryn at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2009

You need a different dentist! Two weeks is way too long to wait if you are in pain.

For what it's worth, I had a painful tooth problem once, and since I was in a new area I didn't have a dentist yet. I made a same-day appointment with a dentist, and he understood that first I needed to have the immediate, painful problem fixed and then I had a follow-up visit to do the new-patient stuff. Definitely, I'd call a few dentists to find one who can do that. Emphasize that you are in pain, and do not want to take Vicodin for weeks.
posted by Houstonian at 1:38 PM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: OK, awesome, I called up another dentist and they're seeing me first thing tomorrow morning. Not sure why this other guy was booked solid for 2 weeks, and you've all convinced me that is indeed ridiculous. Thanks thanks thanks!
posted by naju at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2009

Two weeks is ridiculous. I once was having some moderate pain, and had an appoint about 3 days away. When it got worse, my dentist saw me that day (needed a root canal). My boyfriend, who didn't even have a dentist had a wisdom tooth go bad. Again, my dentist saw him the next morning, and when it turned out he needed an oral surgeon, he only had to wait one more day for an appointment. And this is in NYC.

So just to reiterate the previous posters... your dentist sucks, get a new one.
posted by kimdog at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2009

nthed on the new dentist. Unless you have something really funky going on with that tooth extraction, the procedure itself should take just a few seconds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2009

New dentist, yes.

Not that I've heard that one Aleve and one extra-strength Tylenol kills pain like one Vicodin or anything. After all, I am neither a dentist nor your dentist.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:02 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, this is only vaguely related, but depending on what's wrong with your tooth there may be ways to mitigate the pain in other ways. Looks like you have this sorted but if you're having a problem because of an abcess or other indfection, often your detist can prescribe antibiotics which will minimize the infection and also the pain of the swollen infected area pushing up against the tooth. The one time I had to have a root canal I couldn't schedule the appointment immediately but my dentist put me on antibiotics after seeing what looked like an infection pocket on the xray and it made the pain go way down, just fyi.
posted by jessamyn at 2:20 PM on April 22, 2009

Not sure if it's needed now since you have another one lined up, but ibuprofen always worked way better on toothaches for me than Vicodin, in the proper dosage. The dentist can give you the 600mg prescription strength.
posted by cabingirl at 3:19 PM on April 22, 2009

Is it an abcess? I just went through this myself, I had the extraction yesterday. The Vicodin makes me a little sleepy too.

What really worked for me until the anti-biotics kicked in was to kept ice water on it. It reduced the swelling or something.

Pain sure does suck.
posted by Bonzai at 3:37 PM on April 22, 2009

Do they have an emergency dentistry office where you live? The one here works 4pm to midnight. The old remedy for toothache is oil of cloves or just plain powdered cloves from the spice section. Sounds like either an abcess (in which case you need antibiotics or the poison could go into your system if the tooth is pulled), or a really bad break. Yes, get your meds changed, but get someone to look at it. Sometimes the emerg or a walk in clinic can help if it's an abcess. My sympathies. Oh, and a heating pad helps with the pain, too.
posted by x46 at 10:22 PM on April 22, 2009

Does your original dentist know your tooth hurts so bad you're taking narcotics? I'm assuming he doesn't. I've had two dental emergencies where I had extreme pain and both times I was in the dental chair getting work done in hours, not days.

But, when I call up my dentist and say "you know, I might need you to look at my tooth" I will have to wait a couple weeks.
posted by sideshow at 11:03 PM on April 22, 2009

Your doctor can change the pain meds easily. I have a similar (but much more severe) reaction to vicodin, and a quick call to my Dr. after I broke my ankle got me something much less opiate-y but just as effective w/ the pain.
posted by paultopia at 11:13 PM on April 22, 2009

Hit the ibuprofen hard--like 800mg (4 x 200mg) a few times a day.

Now about that spare Vicodin you won't be needing any longer . . .
posted by eggman at 7:43 AM on April 23, 2009

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