Prayers are needed for the beloved actress Brooke Shields

After breaking her femur and getting a staph infection, the actress was afraid to use narcotics because she wanted to “understand what’s pain and what’s additional injury.”

After sustaining a broken femur in a January accident that required numerous surgeries to repair, Brooke Shields later developed a staph infection that put her in “excruciating” pain. Despite this, the actress made a point of abstaining from taking any prescription medicines as she recovered.

Shields, 55, tells PEOPLE that she has never used anything more potent than over-the-counter medications like Tylenol out of fear that she would get dependent on opiates like OxyContin or Vicodin.

She reveals after giving a speech at The Marie Claire Power Trip: Off the Grid event, “I didn’t want to leave the hospital with no pain, return home, and think I was dying, since the pain was horrible. I reportedly said, “I’d rather to be in great pain in the hospital.”

Shields also wanted to be sure that she could distinguish between the discomfort from her first injury and any additional pain that might develop as she recovered.

“Because when you start to experience pain, you tend to think you’ve been harmed again even if you may not be as hurt as you think, [I wanted to] become used to it and grasp the difference between pain and additional injury. It’s possible that you’re sore or in discomfort “she claims.

When you leave and go home and feel agony, you get really afraid, she continues, so I wanted to properly comprehend what sort of anguish it was. “I wanted to at least say, “Oh, I remember when that anguish was there.” You don’t really feel like a victim of it, though. Okay.”

But the mother of two discovered that it was challenging to persuade the medical personnel — “What over-the-counter medication can I take at the highest safe dosage? I asked. And I’m not taking a prescription with me. They all want to give you Oxy, too.”

Shields believes that the overuse of powerful painkillers is “part of the whole opioid pandemic” that is harming individuals across the nation.

However, she clarifies that her choice to abstain from opioids “is not about being a hero.”

“The message is something like, “Listen, and then do everything you can to not feel it without having to turn to something that could be far more harmful.” Ice, physical therapy, stretching, Advil, or Tylenol are all options. If I had trouble sleeping at night, I would also take a Tylenol PM “she claims. “What may have occurred frightened me.”

11 months after the accident, Shields is making good progress. She’s “gone a long way,” but she still experiences “a lot of bone pain” and was shocked by how much her muscles have shrunk.

“Because there is no impact, I can perform a SoulCycle. It’s nice that I can do Pilates. Then my trainer basically focuses on the type of physical therapy component of it all, which involves engaging the muscles around my knees, where the issue is, and all of those “she claims. “Because muscles are what support my joints and ligaments, weight training is specifically designed to develop those muscles so that they are not impaired. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge.”