By Todd Feathers, [email protected]
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 – 9:55 a.m.
CHELMSFORD — After months of coping, the pain in Jacob Metzler’s left shoulder was becoming unbearable.
Several times last year, when the joint dislocated and he couldn’t pop it out himself, Metzler would ask a friend to wrap a shirt around his limp arm and yank.
“Eventually it got to a point where I would lie down and it would pop,” said Metzler, now 21, of Lowell. “It’s not anything pleasant, I feel it through my whole body. It’s that kind of ache.”
The shoulder was first broken in December 2013, an ugly injury under ugly circumstances. And whenever he thinks about it, whenever the pain comes, as it still does from time to time, Metzler gets angry.
The surgical procedure necessary to fix the joint is relatively minor: a few hours under anesthesia, maybe a night in the hospital, with painkillers to ease the way, and just a few small scars that look almost like pimples.
But Metzler wouldn’t do it. He was ready for the pain, but not for the pills.
“The whole reason I wasn’t going to go through a surgery was because I didn’t want to go back on narcotics,” he said. “I was basically just putting (my shoulder) back in place myself every day.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 52 million Americans have taken narcotic, prescription opioid painkillers when it was not medically necessary. Around 2 million of those are addicted to them. Metzler was one.