By Ed Coghlan
One of the privileges I’ve enjoyed since launching the National Pain Report is meeting a lot of interesting people—people who aren’t afraid to express themselves about their chronic pain, their treatments, their frustrations.
One of those is Kerry Smith, who wrote a column for us recently about his plans to go on a bear hunt in Alaska, which promised to be very difficult given the severity of his chronic pain. (Here’s that story). The former minister and artist lives in Tennessee and has been characteristically honest about his “journey”.
He promised he would write a column for us, when he returned, about the experience.
This past week he lit up my email box again. The bear hunt’s off. While he might be sad about that, he was happy to have found a doctor – a real doctor – that Kerry thinks has the right approach to defining and treating his chronic pain.
Since many of you have similar frustrations (about doctors, not hunting bears), we thought the candor and humor and hope in Kerry’s email might be worth sharing:
I tried. I waited for the damned curve ball, watched it as it spun and started to fall, timed it just right, swung hard, and, and, missed. I just cannot do my bear hunt. I hope that it is temporary and that it will work out in the years ahead. But it ain’t happening this year. Not this year.
That was the bad news. The good news was that I have found a good pain management clinic that is going to help me. The doctor was just a jewel. Not nurse practitioner but doctor. He is running some blood tests on me. Looked at my file as thick as Audubon’s Elephant Book of Birds, and said this is what we are going to do; we are not seeing an oncologist right now. We are not doing a nerve block because it would not work. We are not doing more surgery. We are not increasing your opioid medication.
Rather, we are going to see what is at work here. He prescribed me Percocet in a cascading effect to wean me completely off of opioids and he prescribed me Marinol. Marinol is basically medical marijuana and is reserved for cancer patients who are in their later stages. He realized what is at work with me and prescribed it. Now get this, the insurance covered it to everyone’s surprise. The doctor and his nurse had told me that it would not be covered by insurance and to expect a fight and low and behold it didn’t happen! Woo freaking hoo!!!
So, one out of two I suppose. Disappointment with not setting my butt in Alaska? Why yeah!!!! The heeeeebeee geeeebbbbeees from decreasing my opioids, uh, dang straight. But to have someone who heard me Ed, who really really heard me, was like hitting a home run man.