On May 1 of this year I was involved in a car accident. I fell asleep at the wheel and collided with a light post.
I was awakened the moment I hit the curb and had no time to react. My legs were crushed, I hit my head on the window, and I had a burning sensation on my neck and arm. Thankfully, no one else was hurt.
I was taken to a nearby hospital and the paramedics told me I could have died in the crash because my car was totaled and the light pole had been knocked over. I was rushed into radiology to make sure nothing was broken.
I informed the nurses of my conditions and asked for the pain medication that I normally receive when I’m hospitalized, but the nurse simply ignored me. I was in the worst pain of my life and even though I told the staff morphine doesn’t work for me, it was all I was given.
As soon as they found out I didn’t have any broken bones or severe abrasions besides a concussion, I was released and given a prescription for ibuprofen. I was dumbfounded by the lack of care I received. No one would listen or bothered to hear me out. As soon as they knew everything I was suffering from, as far as my diseases, they looked at me with fear in their eyes.
My husband took the initiative and called my doctor while we waited for my discharge papers. My doctor was extremely helpful and sent over a much stronger pain prescription. He wanted me to be admitted, but I refused because I knew the hospital would not be receptive to my needs.
So I went home to recover — and when it all sank in — I became hysterical.
What if my children were in the car with me? What if the crash killed me? What if I would have killed someone else? I had so many thoughts running through my head and, at the same time, I was hurting from my external wounds. I didn’t know which of the two was worse.
I was seen by a neurologist a few days later to evaluate why I fell asleep or if I had a seizure. My results came back and everything was normal. The conclusion was that I was on too many pain medications. At the time, I wore a fentanyl patch, took Dilauded, Norco, Percocet, and the list goes on.
At the time, my mind was foggy and I was always sleepy.
Some doctors give chronic pain sufferers such as myself pain medication as if they were candy. But I know my body and I know when there are too many toxins going into it. I’m proud to say I no longer use pain medication.
I slowly detoxed and, although I’m constantly in pain, I refuse to take anything for it. Some people think I’m crazy or ignorant for choosing to kick painkillers, but my accident was a wake up call.
I no longer feel like dying would solve my problems with chronic pain. Although many people don’t understand, I’m doing this for my children. Others are quick to suggest I take a painkiller when I tell them how bad I feel, but for the first time in years I’m thinking clearly. There are good and bad days, but the good definitely outweigh the bad.
I hold no grudges or anger towards the medical staff that mistreated me in the past. All I want is to move forward. I hope that one day we as pain sufferers can be heard and treated equally.
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.