It’s no secret that pain management is difficult. In Ohio, they’ve passed legislation that makes it nearly impossible for chronic pain patients (or any patients, for that matter) to get access to opioids. Whether you are a republican, or a democrat, I think we can all agree that if you’ve got a complex fracture, you want some Vicodin. I see you’ve got a bone sticking out there, how about that same Tylenol you took when you had an itty bitty headache? No?
As for chronic pain, caused by things like, gee, your skull being too small and constantly squashing your brain into your spine? Every doctor in the world seems to be afraid to do a real, long-term study on the viability of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, so there aren’t answers about how effective they are. This means doctors don’t know. When they don’t know something, doctors do one of two things: decide that because they don’t know, it’s scary and they can’t (or won’t) try it; or, they experiment, give it to you, and see how it works.
I don’t know either. I don’t love them. I don’t hate them. I do know that sometimes, some days, there is NOTHING else that touches the pain. Most days, I don’t need them. Some days, if I didn’t have them, I’d kill myself. I’m not being dramatic; If I didn’t have them in the drawer, I wouldn’t be alive. When you are at the bottom of a pit of pain so dark that you can’t see the light, it’s difficult to imagine, or hope, that it will be better tomorrow. I’ve had days where it has been so bad that I’ve not been able to physically roll my own body over to drink, or to get out of bed to use the toilet.
If you’ve never had that kind of searing pain, especially on a regular basis, you don’t get to make a judgment; and I don’t think lawmakers should get to either. The problem though, is that pain is subjective. It can be frustrating when someone says they are having that kind of pain, online, or on the phone, and you think to yourself, “Huh? How are you typing? Or speaking?” Or, they post something about how they are at the ER and they need advice about what to tell, or ask, the doctor, and you find out they drove themselves, in their epic post. Again, “You drove? You’re writing a novel? WTF?” Last time I was in the condition you’re describing, my husband had to wipe my ass. Am I a baby, or are you a big, fat faker?
Furthermore, it’s complex, and it’s caused not just by the condition. Once you’re sick, the causes of pain grow. I’m not just sick and in pain because of my skull’s stupid shape; I’m in pain sometimes, because I’m sad. Sometimes, it’s worse because I’m angry. Sometimes, it’s worse because I’ve done too much, trying to make up for the days that I was sad and angry. It’s complex. Our minds have a lot to do with our pain. Therapy, and a whole mind-body approach helps me to take far less medication. I didn’t learn this overnight, and I’m not done learning it, either. Being a sick person, who is trying to be well, takes a long time to master.
This brings me to people who probably shouldn’t get the drugs they demand, like the woman I saw at my doctor’s office today who threw her prescription for an NSAID at the receptionist, and screamed, “THIS is not what I wanted! You KNOW what I wanted!” and then stormed out. Or, a woman I saw in one of the groups who was infuriated that her doctor wouldn’t give her opioids until she’d attended an anger management class, to see if it attenuated some of her pain.
Her response to such a request was, “Why did I end up more mad and wanting to slap the hell out of someone while in the class???!!!”
Okay, I guess if I were in pain, I’d be frustrated if I thought the doctor wasn’t hearing me, or making me jump through hoops. We’ve all been given the side eye by a doctor that didn’t believe us. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.
But then, “[They] told me that I shouldn’t be angry with the doctors because that isn’t doing any good and I’m just hurting myself and causing more pain by being mad.” Yes, yes you are. Wise anger management group. Listen to them, young Padawan. Yoda speaks the truth.
Response from Anakin (on the precipice of Vader change): “What the hell else should I feel when I go to the doctor for help and I have to give them a class on all my ailments (wait, she’s teaching the class now? I’m so confused. How did the angry one end up in charge?) and then they still want to treat me like a druggue??!! I’m so irritated from that class!” (I think she means druggie).
No surprise, of course but, “I think I’m worse now then (THAN! THAN! It’s THAN!—I ignored all your other atrocious grammar, but THAN!) I was before I went!!” When we get angry, or upset, our bodies shut down. When you are a sick person, you feel worse.
The scary part was the support she got from the gaggle of Stormtroopers. They said things like they’d have “snapped,” and that there’d have been an “assault charge” on their record, or in the most benign case, that they’d simply have told the doctor off, ending with calling him a “jackhole.”
Do people not hear/read themselves? My husband is convinced that people type whatever they want because the Internet is like an abyss. They don’t have to see the people they are typing to/about. Maybe that’s true. Or, maybe the world is filled with more horrible people than we’d ever imagined. Maybe there really are this many awful people out there, and they just hide in plain sight. Perhaps the woman at the checkout, right in front of you, she’s the one who just came from anger management, and if you accidentally put your shampoo over the little separator thing, she’s going to jam it down your throat. Or, the woman at Trader Joe’s, eyeing the Ciabatta, she’ll cut you for taking the last one. I’d like to believe that this is not true.
I mean, do you really think that one of these lovely women would’ve assaulted a doctor who suggested anger management? Do you think another would’ve yelled at him about putting an icepick in his head? I don’t know anymore. I’ve seen so many threats and conversations like this now, and videos (yes, really) of people yelling at doctors, that I don’t know what real people are like anymore. I’ve seen ugly now. Have you, as rational people, ever done these things? I’m as salty as they come and I’ve not done these things. I’ve forgotten what people, regular people, who don’t deal with the idea that the medical establishment is out to get them, are like.
When I first got sick, I read these groups non-stop for about a month. I learned information, but I also learned that I’m supposed to be terrified, not only of what I had, but of people. I could’ve learned to be terrified of doctors, but I decided that would be stupid. The only people that can help me are the doctors. These people are under the impression that they are the only people that can help each other, but they aren’t the ones with the medication, the ones who know how to wield a scalpel, or the ones who can read MRIs (despite the fact that they think they can—yes, really – they send them to one another and read them – not surprisingly, they ALL have the same three conditions).
Once I came to the realization that the doctors and I are on the same team, I’ve not had a single problem with doctors. Sure, there are shitty doctors out there; but, you can see them a mile off. Find a new one when you come across one. But, I have had zero problems with pain management, zero problems getting tests ordered that I need. I’ve had zero problems getting treatments. I’ve watched my “friends” online struggle to get treatment after treatment, medications, tests, all of it. I used to wonder if it was because they maybe weren’t all that sick; but now I realize that it’s because they are on the wrong team, and they are fighting like hell to “win” a game that they are the only ones playing. Pain management is just one of the pieces on the board.