By Tracy Cabanting
Tracy is a 37-year-old Reno, NV woman who wrote last week for the National Pain Report about her trepidation regarding an upcoming doctor visit and trip to the pharmacy to renew her pain medication. She tells us how the visits went.
I was prepared for battle! I felt like Furiosa behind the wheel hauling butt through the desert!
Bring it on!
Tuesday afternoon I saw my doctor for my refills. I had my Pain Journal from the last month to give him. I had the print of “Scared” (the column I wrote for the National Pain Report) to give him, and a few other ones that addressed pain patients losing their meds for no reason. Over and over, I repeated the speech I had come up with in my head ready to stand up for myself if he said he was going to reduce my pain meds. I know he would never take them away completely.
I’m glad to say I had nothing to worry about! My doctor kept my meds the same as they have been and said he sees no need to change them for the time being. That’s what makes me nervous “the time being”. My doctor is a really cool dude and I was able to pour my heart out and voice all of my concerns about my pain meds and how fearful I am that he will change them only because he is being forced to.
Now I have to get past the pharmacist. Just because I have the prescription in my hand does NOT mean it’s going to be filled at the pharmacy. By law, the pharmacist can choose to deny filling it. They can also call my doctor and demand to know why I am on these opioid pain meds, why the doctor has chosen to put me on them, and why I am on the dose and quantity I’m on. Luckily, the pharmacist at my usual pharmacy filled it with no problems and no issues! I always have issues with the place, too, so this was a big win for me!
While I am beyond relieved that I am still able to get my pain meds, after I got home and took a deep breath, it occurred to me that it is ridiculous that I feel I have to gear up for a fight each time I get them refilled. I’m pissed off that I am literally at the mercy of a pharmacist that controls whether I’m in pain or not because they may have a personal dislike towards opiod pain meds and therefore don’t think I should be using them so they aren’t going to fill my prescription. How is this OK? Why is this amount of power and control being given to a person that is NOT a PHYSICIAN and may not understand anything they are being about my injury and overall condition of my lower back?
All this time, I was under the impression that doctors and pharmacists were to help people. I have always viewed them as being on the same team and people in our lives and community that we could trust and turn to in our times of sickness and need to aid us in getting better and maintaining a decent quality of life. Not anymore. For now, I’m cool with my doctor, but I’m very leery of the pharmacy and the staff there. I will continue preparing to fight each time a refill is due. I will continue to stand my ground for the medications I need to get a bit of relief from my pain. I shouldn’t have to and it makes me so mad that this is the “new normal” for people like me.