By Judith Bruno
On Sept 19, 2015, a pharmacist at the VA, Loma Linda (in California) just decided to not send me the Morphine I need for pain and quality of life because I use Medical Marijuana (which is legal in the state of California where I live). I was granted a meeting of the “Pain Board” and I proved to those attending that not only do I need the pain medication prescribed to me but that I have never, in over 40 some years abused drugs. (In fact many of my doctors have wondered how I can get by on so little)
In 1995 I made the decision to amputate my right leg in order to get off of the high levels of Pain Medication that VA had me on. Over the years because of Degenerative Disk Disease, Sciatica, Bursitis and Arthritis effecting my left and only leg that causes extreme pain every time I put pressure on the leg when I transfer, I need the pain medication prescribed for me. My level of pain in my “good leg” depends on how many times I do transfer during the day.
After the meeting of the “Pain Board” I was sent to the “Pain Clinic” again at the VA, Loma Linda, CA, where we made a deal that I would stop using the Xanax the VA had prescribed for me over the last 9 years and we would work out the amount of pain medication I needed. I kept my part of this bargain. I was doing just fine on the amount of pain medications the Pain Clinic and I agreed upon and my Primary Care Physician was sending it to me every month as ordered by the Pain Clinic.
I am well under the CDC’s “Recommended” amount of 120 Mil of Narcotic Pain Medication advised for “new patients”.
Then last month I was given a new Primary Care Physician (PCP) at the Palm Desert, VA who told me in a phone conversation that the VA, Loma Linda had sent all the PCP’s a “memo” giving them the right to refuse pain medication to any Veteran who uses Medical Marijuana, if they so choose. So she refused to give me the pain medication I need as long as I use Medical Marijuana and has refused to care for me, a 100%, SC Disabled Veteran.
I’ll tell you what I tell them.
Marijuana is the only thing that helps the problems in my gut and my bowels that cause me to wake every morning with dry heaves, cramping, pain, sweats and chills every day. The VA has found nothing that will help with these problems and I refuse to give up my legal rights as a California citizen to use it. This is discrimination against Veterans living in a state where Medical Marijuana has been legal since 1996.
How many doctors at this VA will buck this memo and continue to treat their patients?
Not many I’m guessing.
In the meantime, I will be fighting this action of the VA, Loma Linda and the doctor for “Refusal of Care”. I am told that I must file a complaint with the Patient Advocate even though we know their jobs depend on the VA and they will never have the nerve to take a stand for the Veterans they supposedly advocate for.
I have quit doing anything that will cause me pain if I can’t have even the small amounts I need to get through each day. I refuse to transfer to and from my wheelchair unless I absolutely must. And only then it has to be for something fun.
I refuse to run errands, do housework, laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning and all those things I do that cause my leg to throb in pain every day. I refuse to do any of those things I will need to do in order to continue to live independently.
I will be requesting “full, in home care”. If the VA, Loma Linda and the Primary Care Physicians refuse to provide me with the pain medications I need, I will not be able to transfer to and from my wheelchair or care for myself. I hope the VA is prepared to do so. They should also have to provide such care for ALL the Veterans who are being treated with such discrimination.
How can the VA turn these Veterans away from the care they need? Why is our own government torturing those who have already given so much for us and our country? Why do they deny you care if you use medical marijuana in a state where it’s legal?
It doesn’t make sense and yet here we are.
We, as pain patients, must be heard.
So maybe we should hit them where it hurts the worst—in the pocketbook.
File with the VA, file with your insurance companies, Medicare/Medicaid and tell them all that if you can’t get the pain medications you need, you can’t continue to do whatever it is you are trying to do because of the pain you are in and file for Full Disability.
It’s always about money. If they won’t listen to common sense, then let them pay.