By Suzanne Stewart.
Going to the doctor’s office has never been one of my favorite things to do. When I was 5 years old, I filled my suitcase and “ran away” because I was afraid to get my Kindergarten vaccines. Now, I’m all grown up and looking forward to retirement; but I’m still that 5-year-old deep down inside, more afraid of doctors than ever before. Why do they have so much power over me?
Each time I have to visit the pain Dr.’s office, I get physically ill, worse than usual. A few days prior to my appointment, I get more frequent stomach aches. I get more clingy to home and all things comfortable to me. A fear deep inside of me grows worse and worse. When the morning of the appointment comes. I get nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea and I don’t want to leave my house.
I really trust and like my pain Dr. too, don’t get me wrong. But I know he’s not my “friend”. He has heard every excuse in the “book”. All day long other people have ruined it for the “good patients” who don’t deserve this kind of questioning, contracts and treatment.
It’s time to leave the house. But I cannot leave the bathroom. I take a bucket with me because I don’t want to vomit in the car. It’s a 30-minute drive and my painful RSD/CRPS feet are shaking even though they hurt. I cannot control it. My husband chuckles, kindly telling me that I’m “shaking the entire car”.
We sign in at the front desk. I answer the several questions that I am asked every 30 days now. It’s just too often to put people through this, aside from the cost. My name is called and my stomach is in knots. I’m sweating and sick to my stomach with my heart is pounding. I feel afraid and “guilty”.
The pain Dr. enters the room and asks me the same questions each month. Every 30 days, the same dialogue. But this day I hear different mantra than usual. I feel as though I’m in a tunnel as I hear these words “Your urine test came back positive and I had to send it out to another lab. In case you wonder when you receive a $200.00 or $300.00 bill from an outside lab. I just wanted you to know.”
I started to cry and then I was asked “why are you crying?” Next, I was informed that no matter how long he’s known me, if the test had been positive, I would be kicked out of the practice with no place to turn. Innocent or not, I would have been “guilty”. I asked him “What could it be positive for? I did not do anything different?” He proceeded to tell me that I tested positive for PCP and Oxy-something? But I don’t take those! I don’t even know what “PCP” is? I had to ask and he did not answer. He could not understand why I was crying uncontrollably and inconsolably.
We had received a $265.00 bill from a lab just a few days prior. We were going to call because we thought it was a mistake. Now we are supposedly responsible for this very large bill. I never signed anything promising to pay for all of those tests? But what happens if I fight it? Next time there is a “false positive”, they won’t perform the tests, therefore I won’t be exonerated and I will be kicked out for no reason whatsoever? The second test, of course, came back negative and I was exonerated. He told us that his regular office urine test has a “90 to 95% accuracy”. So that means occasionally there can be a glitch or a mistake. And we “get” to pay for that mistake.
I am tired of people telling me that I should not be on this medication. I take medicine that helps relieve my pain. I have almost no side effects and I’ve tried many other medications and therapies first. This was a “last resort”. It helps and I don’t want to stop because it gives me some semblance of a life. Without it, I would be in bed or in my chair 24/7. I don’t want that.
Why do chronic pain patients have to feel persecuted and judged?
Nobody deserves to feel this way. There’s something definitely wrong and it’s about time that we fix it.
Suzanne Stewart Suzanne has lived with a Systemic CRPS & several other chronic pain illnesses. Prior to being disabled from chronic pain, she was an Interpreter for the Deaf at a hospital & worked with Deaf children. Since 2005, Suzanne’s been a patient health advocate, support group leader & Mentor. She continues doing these things today, but also does public speaking, awareness events and she’s a Writer/blogger & an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation. The statements and opinions that she provides here are her own and should not be taken as the stance, position or viewpoint of the U.S. Pain Foundation. For entertainment she creates advocacy videos & uplifting ASL cover song videos on You tube and she writes in her own blog Tears Of Truth. You can follow her here: TearsofTruth.com