This week I had planned to do a few articles about living on narcotics. Before reading this weeks series, check out the last post I wrote about narcotics, “Chronic Pain and Narcotic Use” at https://blogs.psychcentral.com/chronic-pain/2013/05/chronic-pain-and-narcotic-use/.
What sparked this article is my most recent unfortunate luck. Yesterday I was driving to my acting class, the only thing I do in my life to try to bring some enjoyment, when I was rear-ended on a major highway. I was stopped and the girl was going about 30-40mph when she slammed into me. Immediately following the accident, I was sore, but I knew that more was to come. By this morning my lower back, where I had my lumbar fusion, my mid-back, neck and shoulders were all in pain and my arms and hands were tingling. After trying to handle the pain all morning I relented and, stupidly, went to the Emergency Room at my local hospital.
As a side note, in 15 months following a 3-level lumbar spinal fusion, hands down one of the most painful surgeries to endure and recover from, I have never once gone to the hospital, despite having pain so bad at times that I could do little more than rock and moan. This morning nothing was putting a dent in the pain, I was scared and I was beginning to panic because the pain was getting out of control, so I agreed to go to the emergency room. Big mistake.
I am writing this post from a hospital bed where I spent the first 2 hours crying in pain. But since I am a pain management patient, I was not being treated for pain, because we are all, in the eyes of hospitals, drug seeking. The nurse informed me that my pain management doctor should put a note about emergency medication treatment in whichever ER I “frequent.” I explained that I have dealt with horrrifying pain for 15 months and never once asked for help. After a pretty decent car accident, I came for the first time, for help and I was met with exactly what I feared. I was given one tablet, by mouth, and told this should handle it. I knew it wouldn’t so much as give me a 1-number relief on the incredibly unhelpful pain scale. I waited the requisite half hour and by this point, in tears and near vomiting, said the pain meds did not work and I came here for help, for the first time ever, and it is not fair that I be treated like this. Finally, the nurse called the doctor and I was given an intra-muscular innjection and allowed to take my OWN pill.
The hardest thing about this is that before being labeled a “pain patient” I came to the ER with abdominal pain a couple of times and I was given pain management within 10 minutes. Now that I am punished with a pain management program, the game has changed drastically.
As I write I am still at about an 8, which is terrible, but worse than that, I feel embarrassed, degraded and quite honestly, I feel like an addict, because that is how they have treated me. Some people think they have these procedures in place for a reason, but these are the same people who have never been in unbearable pain and told there is nothing they can do for them. They have never had to cry or beg just to get help and they have never been accused of frequenting ERs for medications.
What a sad stattement this is about our healthcare system and how people with cronic painn are treated. The only hope is that one day the very people who make us beg will be in our shoes and realize how inhumane it is to be treated like this.
Photo courtesy of Berge Gazen via Compfight