Compassion Does Still Exist and I Think It Makes A Difference in More Than Just the Obvious

Compassion Does Still Exist and I Think It Makes A Difference in More Than Just the Obvious

I spent the other morning in the ER. I’m plagued with yet another case of cellulitis.

I recently added a Medicare Advantage plan for myself. It made me lose my primary care, but she had not been my doctor for long. It also made me lose the closer hospital. I’m okay with that too – especially now.

It was about 6:00 in the morning when I realized that the red on my leg was spreading and I could no longer put weight on my right leg. To save time and everything, I have my medical history written out in detail so that the doctor can just read it. First, I wasn’t made to wait. They took one look at my leg and hauled me back to a bed.

I have been working a lot lately, so my back was pretty off-the-charts horrible as well. The doctor examined my leg and quickly realized that I really wasn’t doing well. Although it is in my medical history, there was no mention of chronic pain.

Denise Hedley

“Let’s get you some morphine.”

After so many times of being doubted, given dirty looks, accused both with and without words of being a pill-seeker, this doctor was a breath of fresh air. Before I knew it, I had pillows elevating my leg, pillows and hot packs behind my back. The IV nurse was supposed to let a student start mine but took one look at me and did the easiest stick ever.

I thought I was imagining things – were there still doctors and ERs out there who treat us like humans? I can report that yes there are, and they are a gift.

My nurse came in and she was asking me questions about my previous bouts of cellulitis. I told her – limited information – just the basics. She then turned to me and said:

“Have you experienced bad treatment in Emergency Rooms before because of your conditions?”

I gave her some examples of my experiences. Her jaw dropped.

“Most of us got into nursing to help people not belittle them or hurt them. Even without the cellulitis, I can tell that you’re in honest pain every time you move, and you say that people have doubted you?”

It was like I was in an alternative universe. Other than the fact that I was, in fact, sick enough to go to an ER, it was one of the most positive medical experiences I have had. Shortly before I was discharged, the doctor came in to talk for a few minutes. I thanked him for his compassion and exceptional treatment of me. He thought for a minute and just said

“Compassion is why I became a doctor. The DEA can do what they want, but I will never back down from making my patients comfortable when I can.”

This doctor was in his early 30s, so without a doubt has been educated in the opioids are evil generation of new doctors. The fact that he has chosen to stick to his beliefs and how he feels about patient treatment was beyond refreshing.

It almost seems like this bout of cellulitis is healing a lot faster than the others have and it makes me wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that it was a positive medical experience in a world where pain and suffering mean so little to so many. If the doctor’s attitude makes a difference in how we heal, then those doctors are truly a gift to us.

I was assured by some of the nurses that all their doctors are like that and that I shouldn’t postpone it if I ever need care. It was an experience I will not soon forget.

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Authored by: Denise Hedley

Denise Hedley was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009. Her condition has worsened, and was diagnosed with bilateral RSD in January, 2019. She also suffers from Osteoarthritis, 2 herniated discs, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosis.

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Meg Taylor

Sorry about the abrupt ending to my other comment. I have fibro brain today. I was going to say, it takes time to find good doctors and nurses today. I am older and do not remember meeting a doctor who had no compassion until I was in my late 20’s (1980) and the next one appeared in 2014. Keep fighting and refuse to return to the doctors who have never practiced under the “first do no harm” umbrella.

Meg Taylor

It is awesome to know that some compassion remains in the medical community. It takes

Julia Heath

Thank you for sharing the good experience! I think in this time of despair & stress, we all need to share whatever good experiences we have. And as a former PA, I’d like to say thank you for being deliberate in showing gratitude to the ones helping you! I think all of us are in a defensive posture (and for good reasons), but kindness towards the ones helping us can go a long way to getting better care. It shouldn’t be that way – the ones providing care should be kind & compassionate regardless. But they’re human too, and appreciate kindness from us as much as we do from them.

Cindy too

To Alouise –

Your post is one of the most horrific shocking things I’ve ever heard. I hope you make it widely known on social media or whereever. Contact US Pain Fdn. Contact legislators. The Surgeon General. The pharmacist’s boss. The state bd of pharmacy. Even if it’s a longshot. Your cancer makes you a very sympathetic case.

While, imo, pain is pain, and cancer pain is no different than other pain, historically during this CDC-caused mess, cancer pain has been treated differently than other pain. It’s just not up to this pharmacist.

I am so mad for you that I could scream. That pharmacist is cruel beyond words.

Cindy too

What an amazing story. It can give all of us hope.

And morphine, of all things. Just, amazing.

Also, I’ve always heard terrible things about Medicare Advantage Plans and so this is another interesting aspect, especially since Open Enrollment just started.

Adam Selene

I’m dumbfounded…


This is so amazing!!! Your treatment should be the norm, not a rare miracle that leads us to an online celebration-and believe me I AM celebrating for you.
I am a cancer patient that is being followed by a specialist at a major hospital two cities away from my home. The pain and dysfunction stop almost all driving so I have to get a friend to take off work to drive me. The costs for the hospital & doc are steep so I can only go every 2 to 3 months. It also takes a while to get an appointment. I was in rough shape today, on top of tumor I have a chest infection and 1 of the meds given was a dose-medrol pak to help my breathing. Along with scripts for the tumor and support meds I received a script for 30 days of 24 mg a day of pain meds. It is a low dose but I have always had very cautious docs. I’ve been thankful for their tumor expertise so have lived with being in almost constant pain taking such a low dose pain meds.
Anyway, on the way home from long drive I dropped antibiotic script, medrol pak (steroid) and pain med script off at my local pharmacy. This is same one I always use!!!
I was waiting for the stated pick-up time and they are not ready. Keep wating. Finally, the pharmacist who has known me since this started, comes over and telks me SHE HAS CALLED MY DOC and told her she is not going to give me the steroid dose pak, but will instead give me 4 steroid pills and will only give me 7 days (out of 30) of my pain meds. This is not an insurance issue- SHE FEELS (the pharmacist) the addiction risk for patients is too high.
She said if you are still hurting from the tumor in 7 days go back and see the doctor!!!
I was literally shocked- I told her it can take over a month to get an appointment and I asked her, very nicely, if she knew how much it costs to see a cancer specialist at a large university. I can’t go back in 1 week! She hands me the bottle with 1 week’s pills in it. Never saw anything like this. It is Friday evening-can’t call doc. 😢


Oh Denise – I am so happy for you & thrilled to hear that there are still a (very) few Drs. out there who take their Oath seriously – to do no harm! By withholding pain meds in ER situations actually causes harm to the patient. Kudos for this kind, compassionate young Dr. I am wishing him much success in his career.
Having been hospitalized this year, they did put me on Torodol, IV. However, I could tell by my BP that I needed a bit more. I was too afraid to ask because they would label me a “drug seeker.” What a shame to have to live like that.
Rapid pain intervention can help snap a pain flare & reduce its longevity & intensity. I wish we could clone that ER doctor! Compassion goes a long way and is almost never forgotten.
Great post, thank you for sharing.

Abigail Elizabeth Moehle

Praise God!!! This is encouraging to here ❤


This story made me cry. It’s been so long since we’ve heard any stories that contain compassion and goodness like this, so glad this happened to you, what a blessing! Thanks for sharing. Really makes my day

Eileen M. Ryan

Please, please tell me the name of this doctor, and how to reach him! For two decades, I had a compassionate, caring Physician. Ten years ago, he prescribed up to 30 mg. of oxcodone a day for my fibromyalgia and severe osteoarthritis. (I’m having my 3rd joint replacement surgery next week, and need a 4th. I always discussed my usage with him, and he trusted me completely. I NEVER took more than I needed: I kept careful track and averaged 15 mg. a day. No way did I want to become addicted! But, when he retired, his replacement treated me like a criminal! When I had my very first appointment with him, this sadistic **** began the visit with a blunt “I don’t prescribe opiates.” After I cried for almost twenty minutes, he was finally willing to look at a recent MRI of my severely arthritic shoulders. Then, he finally agreed to a pittance of 10 mg/day. Later on, I was honest with him, and told him that instead of taking the 10 mg, I chose to suffer one or two days a week. By planning little physical activity on those days, I’d have an extra 5 mg. once or twice a week so I could then enjoy doing things I loved. He became infuriated with me, and demanded that I take only the 10 mg. a day, whether I needed them or not! I kept this so-called “healer” because I was afraid I’d be accused of “doctor shopping.” I finally found another doctor willing to prescribe 15 mg. of oxycodone a day, but after 2 months, his supervisory administration mandated their physicians to prescribe only methadone! So, I was taken off the medication that was appropriate for me, and given an inadequate dosage of something that’s only better than nothing! Loosing the one opioid that allowed me to live normally has all but ruined my life. I try to convince myself that I’m luckier than most chronic pain sufferers, but–the only relief I now have is just the few hours a few days a week, when my pain forces me to cry, instead of–my hand to God–screaming.

There is approx. 30% of doctors that DO treat pain patients, you are one of the fortunate patients to have found one. NOTHING has changed YET… the other 70% are still too afraid or too ignorant to treat pain.


I haven’t had any problems at er’s or as an inpatient with either compassion or pain management. The problem is outpatient care. My primary care put me into withdrawal because it took the office 10 days to write my scripts. Another time they wrote the script for the wrong medications. Most l PA’s and NP’s that I have encountered do not care about you, they are super paranoid about prescribing opioids. Luckily I do have a super primary care doctor who takes care of me, as long as he is not out of town, then all bets are off.


Wow, I wish I lived wherever that miracle happened. I’ve gotten nothing but vicious abuse from ERs & urgent care people, the few times I’ve been desperate enough to go in the last 15 years. One time they even refused to give me IV fluids (no drugs) even though I was very clearly severely dehydrated…they acted as if saline were some sort of gateway drug & if they let me have that I’d turn into a foaming berserk addict demanding opiates at gunpoint…or something. It made less than no sense, but by God they were adamant; no nothing, no how, go away.


Nice to hear about b/c it is rare these days.


I wonder though – your painful issue was visible. The equivalent of a broken limb. Anyone coming in w an invisible illness that causes pain just as severe or worse is not going to receive that same treatment. Theyll be subjected to thousands in tests and told theres no visible issue and to see their PCP.

Alice Carroll

I too, recently had a good experience at the ER when I had a bad pain flare up in my low back and groin (psoas) area. I was treated with respect and compassion. I was offered opioid medication for the intense pain I was suffering. There was no doctor in the ER, as I live in a rural community and it was a Sunday. I was treated by RN’s and a PA. I had hoped to obtain an MRI but they didn’t do them on weekends as there was no one to run the machine. There was a 2 week+ wait to get on the MRI schedule during the week.

Rosalind Rivera

I cannot express the joy that I feel for you. Thank the Lord for that doctor and for the entire staff that actually took care of you. About 10 years ago, I woke up one morning to find to my horror that I could not move from the neck down. I had fallen asleep the night before on my sofa so it wasn’t too far from the floor. I somehow managed to use my head to shimmy myself off the sofa and fall face down on the cold wooden floor. It was during the winter. I laid there for about 13 hours screaming for help until my upstairs landlady finally heard me and called for emergency help.
I was rushed to Putnam hospital emergency room in CARMEL, NY where a female doctor accused me of seeking pain pills and ordered me to get up and walk as she determined, without examining me, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.
I was in disbelief and furious!
From there, I was transferred to another hospital, where x-rays and sonograms were done. I was immediately rushed into the OR where a team of surgeons and surgical nurses were waiting.
After many hours in surgery, I woke up in agony!
Apparently, my spine had collapsed. I was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, several damaged nerves and a few other severe medical conditions. The doctors were in complete and total disbelief when told of my experience at Putnam Hospital Center.
I was then transferred to a rehabilitation home where I learned how to once again feed myself, dress and finally walk again. I had to use a wheelchair then a walker and cane for many months as I had and still do have equilibrium issues accompanied by severe and most days and nights excruciating neck and lower back pain. I still have falls and also Neuropathy in both my hands and feet. I’ve gotten burned more times than I can count and during all of this am also dealing with the horrible pain that comes with Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other medical issues.
Btw, fusion never happened. More pain!

Bobbie Hudson-Penick

I neglected to add I am a 75 yo woman with fibro, copd along with other health issues so am a chronic pain patient.
I had my dog on a leash and he went after a small critter hurling me through the air landing on my side with my right arm hyperextended breaking three ribs.
I put off going to the ER for 3 days because of the stigma we all know too well even tho I was in excruciating pain. I also hit my chin so hard my neck going up my face on either sidevof my mouth! I looked like I had a dark purple & black beard.

More Drs like ME out there who listen to & believe what patients tell them? AMAZING! There is hope in the world of medicine! Thanks for writing your positive story!

Bobbie Hudson-Penick

I can say I received much the same level of care & compassion with my recient ER visit & hospital stay at St. Frances in Greenwood.
It makes such a world of difference in a patient’s ability to heal and there are no words of gratitude that express how thankful I am.


Denise, I absolutely believe that you are spot-on regarding the positivity of the doctors and nurses at your new ER being a real part of healing. I am a 73 yr old widow, was forced to retire from work that I loved at age 41, and have been in chronic pain for for almost 40 years.

This past January, a new medicare advantage plan became available through a different insurance company. With my old insurance, there was only one healthcare plan that I could afford – there was no premium for my old plan, but my co-pays were taking 35% of my disposable income in good years. In bad years, I was in the “donut hole” for prescription drugs and couldn’t get what I needed. My income was $50 more per month than the limit to get medi-cal or other assistance.

Like you, I have multiple + complex health problems, one of which was improperly diagnosed by my previous healthcare system for 22 yrs + 3 surgeries – 2 months into my new system, I had a positive diagnosis of a rare disease that has no cure, but for which I am now receiving proper care.

My new doctors don’t treat me like a drug-seeking old woman or a hypochondriac, but like a woman who actively participates in her own healthcare and who wants to feel better and live a more functional life.
WOW, what a positive change in my life!

If others reading Denise’s (or my) post are under the care of doctors who don’t have this wonderful positive attitude toward all of their patients – partucularly those who’ve suffered from chronic pain for years – I urge you to consult with a free Medicare specialist who can find you an affordable, new insurance advantage plan, and to accept nothing less than positive interaction from all medical providers!

No only am I feeling better, but I am acting better and participating in my own life more than I have for years. May God bless you all.


As a retired ER nurse and now a CCP person I’m so happy to hear about your experience!! The way it SHOULD be!! I spent 26 years in a busy ER and when I was younger I was not as kind as I could have been…then age, wisdom, and probably being a pain person…myself fighting a daily battle I eventually lost at 54 after 26 years. My last years, in a lot of pain myself…I fought for my patients!! What I was trained to do, with compassion and kindness…so I’m so happy to hear that things may be changing!!

Teresa Ingebrigtsen

That is so nice to hear. Somewhere, someone actually cares. I dont go, I just got tired of either being not believed, or having them not care. Only my acupuncturist cares, and he helps, but it is not enough any more. My pain continues to get worse. I have never been prescribed anything but tylenol and muscle relaxers. I cannot take NSAIDS. I hurt. No one cares. I have bipolar, depression almost killed me last year and it is lurking just around the corner. The more pain I have, the closer I get to that damn depression. I have IBS-D. I have had it for many years. It has been really bad since January. I went to the Urgent Care in January, she made me feel like an absolute nutcase, so I didnt go back until it was so bad that I didnt have a choice. Again no one cares, I finally was able to get to a nurse practitioner, she ran some tests, found that I was nutritionally deficient, I guess, she asked me what I wanted, and sent me to gastroenterology, who found the problem, put me on medication, that helped and explained that as my guts healed, my pain may get better!! Someone finally cares!! So I wait, but I have hope! Finally!!


I am so glad you had this experience. Maybe this is a new beginning.

I struggled after being admitted to a full hospital to rule out a heart attack. My blood pressure was off the charts. (240/200) It gave me a bad headache.

They offered dilaudid but I am careful and thought that was overkill. So instead I asked for Aleve. Later the headache wouldn’t let up so I asked for the pain meds available. They were out of dilaudid and the doctor refused Oxycodone. I was treated terribly.

When I got to my bed upstairs the doctor came in.

I explained why I had first refused it.. She listened and said: “that’s reasonable.” and wrote the order. If I weren’t so frightened and mad I probably wouldn’t have spoken up.

I learned a valuable lesson. (and it wasn’t a heart attack but that took them a week to figure out.)

Maureen M.

Wow Denise! Having read your other posts (and love them all!) I am aware of your troubles. Reading this actually gave me chills! I as a nurse (and yes, a very compassionate one) for 31 years before my spine injury, while working, which forced me into becoming disabled 15 yrs ago. It’s been a rough road ever since and yes, very poor treatment from doctors over the years. Your new experience actually gives me some hope for our future care. Thank you and be well. Cellulitis is no Fun!! Sending healing hugs to you warrior, Maureen M.

Michele Howe

It is so wonderful to hear how well you were treated. I am really thankful for the compassion you were shown. So many of us who suffer from chronic pain and other conditions have had a negative experience with uncompassionate Doctors and medical personnel. It IS a shock when you are treated with caring and compassion. It should not be like this. It’s bad enough when you are ill. I have an excellent and emphatic pain specialist and I dread the day she retired. I have already had problems with new primary care Doctors. It’s no wonder why a lot of us are afraid of going to a Doctor. I know that I am. I put it off until I have no choice but to go. Not good. We need more of the younger Doctors who are willing to help despite any backlash.
Thank you for writing such an uplifting and encouraging letter about your experience. I hope that you are feeling much better.


Denise, excellent article! Thankyou soo much for sharing your experience. It’s really good to hear. There IS hope! I hope your doing better! Again, Thankyou, Deb


Dear Denise,

It is so lovely to read about your experience; it melts my heart. You sure reminded me of the way things used to be when we needed to be seen by a physician.

So peaceful, so healing, is what it used to be like. How my spirit longs for those days of compassion and honesty, for those were the days that I lived a full life.

Janet S Flowers

What a refreshing- and hopeful- story! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


Denise, I totally agree with you that it is a breath of fresh air to be treated this way. I went in to the ER once with the worst facial pain I’ve ever experienced. They took me back right away. The doctor was very compassionate and gave me morphine although I told him I knew it wouldn’t work because j was already on pain medication for my Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. He took a thorough history and consulted a neurologist. That’s when I was diagnosed with Trigimenal Neuralgia. He started me on medication that day and said if the pain started to go away in a few days, that would confirm the diagnosis. Of course, it did. I’ll never forget that doctor and the entire experience because of the way I was treated. He didn’t dismiss me or my pain. I can guarantee that if I ever have to go to the ER for anything, that will be where I go again. It’s not the closest hospital, but it’s definitely the most caring one in my area.

John Cichon

Thank you for setting a good example of how to take on a serious condition and see good through it. Keep it up Friend!