Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Pain Management Clinic Experience

I mentioned in two posts ago that I had gone over to Idaho to the Pain Management Clinic. Interestingly, it is the only clinic, and the only pain management doctor, in our entire area.

I have learned how difficult, sensitive, and sometimes touchy the subject and treatment of pain is. Doctors and other providers are constantly vigilant for pain med junkies. They have to be. Some people shop doctors, clinics, urgent cares, ER's, and hospitals for pain meds. They rob pharmacies, steal scrip pads, and alter scrips they legitimately get. They rob from people they know possess them (yes, a little scary). It really is pretty crazy how extensive the problem is.

Pain Management Contracts are entered between some patients and their providers to state in writing how much pain med someone can get in a certain period of time. I think that providers also have to watch their patients who are legitimately on the meds because they could turn out to really, really like them and want more and more. Even when they no longer need them.

Personally, I don't get it. Most pain meds make me nauseous or vomit. The ones that don't certainly don't make me feel euphoria. But I know some people really enjoy them and apparently get a good high. In fact, one of my best childhood friends has fought this addition since his teens.

Anyways, I always feel awkward discussing my pain and my need for pain meds. I have this strong need to not be viewed as a junkie or that I manipulate my husband's position to somehow have better access to them. And I also really don't want to become addicted.

There was also the confrontation I had with a Group Health Hospitalist during a hospital stay in September. Long story short, this yahoo thought I was a pain med seeker after I asked for a pain pill in the middle of the night. So the next day he comes in to do his visit/exam and insinuates that I was looking for a high. Asshole. Fired him, and gave the nursing staff a good laugh.

I guess this is in part why there are Pain Management Specialists. They screen out the users. They also end up dealing with people like me who all the traditional regimens are still not enough. I was apprehensive that they would just write me a scrip for 500 pills of something...... The good news is that they felt we had several options left to try, utilizing both my current opioid meds along with other medications that specifically target nerve pain. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I was elated that there was hope. Someday, I would like to sleep more than a little here and there due to pain. I would like to be able to move throughout a normal day without restriction due to pain. And maybe someday I could add some physical activity without all the pain. My "high" would be good sleep and no pain!

Unfortunately, they did tell me that their experience with cancer patients with neuropathy (that's what causes all my pain) can be rocky. It can take a lot of fine-tuning. And sometimes they can reach improvement but not total control of the pain. So they ask you to keep in mind that down the road they may have to find a more opiate-based regimen. And once again, a doctor looked me in the eye, with that serious and grim face, and delivered his clincher that the pain often never gets better or goes away. Huh. I'll go with the above paragraph, thany you very much!

I finally gave up trying to sleep tonight but I am optimistic that there ideas can make some big improvements. I like optimism and I like hope. And I LOVE good news!


Denise said...

AND...I like your tenacity and I like your courage!

Anonymous said...

Reading your story was very heart wrenching for me. I am a nurse, RN, BSN and for years I had a negative thought on pain patients and management centers. One opened up in a building I was working in and I would constantly look at young people coming in and out znd think "what pain could you possibly be in". Even patients we saw in the field of Reprodutive Endocronolgy that would come in with chronic pain, I would jump to the drug seeker conclusion. Then at 28 I was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly saw myself sitting in the waiting room at a pain specialist. I thought to myself, noone can see anything physically wrong with me, I don't have cancer written on my forhead. Thats when I realized what I had been doing to patients all my life.Lets just say now I am the first to speak up and fight the doctor on the patients behalf. I am glad you found a great doctor, so have I. I wish they would teach us more compassion and less drilling that you treat everyone as a drug seeker until prover otherwise in school. You and your family our in my prayers.