This past week, I found myself once again in a place that too many of us in the Chronic Pain Community are way too familiar with.
I got sick.
I knew what was wrong.
I knew the pain was going to get worse.
I knew I needed to see a doctor and get on antibiotics.
My doctor was out of town so my choice came down to the ER where I had an equal chance of pain relief or humiliation. Second choice being Urgent Care where I respect the doctor, but pain relief is off the table completely.
I chose Urgent Care, and I once again truly suffered. There is a point where the pain is not as important as not being humiliated. There is a point where our pride is more important. There is a point where we have to put our emotional state above the physical just to attempt to keep our sanity.
By the time I got to Urgent Care, I was a day away from Sepsis. The cellulitis in my ankle had crawled halfway up my leg. I couldn’t put any weight on it. I couldn’t keep my balance. Every single step brought tears.
We were able to do a very high dose of antibiotics which worked almost immediately. No pain medication was offered. It made me think though. Borderline Sepsis is nothing to mess with. I should have gotten in at least the day before.
I am known for not going to the ER when I should no matter what is wrong with me. Everything from bowel obstructions to chipped ankles to sprained backs to dislocated knees…okay, so I don’t fight the bowel obstructions any more because those suckers are worse than childbirth.
I have been dragged to the ER kicking and screaming more times than I can count just to avoid the ever-present labeling as a pill seeker. The disbelief that I can actually function at the pain levels I claim to function at. The looks of doubt wondering if I’m putting on an Academy Award-winning performance because my symptoms just aren’t visible to the naked eye.
We have all heard the whispers behind our backs. The ugly accusations that since we don’t look sick, we must be lying. But who is to blame for this?
Is it the fault of the addicts who attempt to fake our very real symptoms?
Is it the fault of medical schools who fail miserably when it comes to teaching pain management?
Is it the current fake opioid crisis?
Also – and I really have to wonder on this one – are the walls we put up and the masks we put on around others to enable them to believe that we’re okay. Have we gotten to good?
Because we are tired of the negative treatment. Tired of being falsely judged. Exhausted from being accused of being addicts. But we are also in that state of exhaustion due to our illnesses themselves.
This needs to stop. We need and deserve to be treated like human beings again.
Enough is enough!