When I think of a person who visits a doctor or emergency room for the sole purpose of getting painkillers, I think of a junkie or someone with no morals. I never thought I would one day be placed in that same category.
For anyone who knows me, I truly hate taking pain medication to treat my conditions for fear of becoming dependent or addicted. I have a high tolerance for pain and will try all other alternatives before taking an opioid to alleviate my discomfort. At times my justification for not taking prescription drugs is that they don’t do anything for me.
However, I’ve been to the ER and urgent care many times for pain (and not always the same location) and I am so insulted by the fact that doctors hint at the possibility that I may only be drug seeking.
If only they knew that I probably have a medicine cabinet with stronger medications than what they’re willing to give me. And that I have several unfilled prescriptions for painkillers that are ten times as strong.
I know what works for me and what doesn’t when dealing with pain. Whenever I’m admitted for pain management the only thing that will get me to the point where it’s bearable is a patient controlled analgesia pump.
Oftentimes I go in and ask the nurses to let the doctor on-call know I need one and I’m met with mixed responses. Some nurses assume I’m not really suffering. Others inform the doctor but add their two cents and make me sound crazy. Some simply choose to ignore me.
I understand that they’re unaware of my case and knowledge but I feel like I should still be treated respectfully. Until they know for a fact that I really don’t need pain medication, I expect to be treated like someone who is truly suffering. I shouldn’t have to be penalized because others try to abuse medicine.
I’ve learned to stick to one emergency room for my after-hours needs. Now when I go in, my records are on file and I don’t have to say much because they can just look at what previous doctors have done to treat my pain.
Sometimes I do have to explain that all other painkillers have failed and have to justify getting a new one, which is frustrating, but I don’t expect everyone to understand how my body works.
A drug seeker is not what I am, but the world is filled with ignorant people and all I can do is hope for the day when I am no longer categorized as one.
I refuse to let it bring me down or anger me. We will always be met with doubt and judgment, but it’s how we react to those things that make us stronger individuals.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.