My Story: Denied Pain Meds After Surgery

My Story: Denied Pain Meds After Surgery

I read the story about Colleen Sullivan, the young woman in Florida having a hard time filling her script for oxycodone. I wanted to tell one of my stories from here in New York.

I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 25. I have been on many anti-inflammatories and pain medications. At first, I tried the many non-narcotic scripts. After about 10 years, I moved up to low dose narcotics with the least potency and over the years have “stepped up” the scale.

Margo Caldwell

Margo Caldwell

I am now 46 years old, on a fentanyl patch and Nucynta for breakthrough pain.

The part of my story I want to share is this. After symptoms of breast cancer, my surgeon scheduled a biopsy. When I woke up she had also done a lumpectomy. She prescribed Percocet 10 mg, which was a lot lower potency then what I was taking for pain prior to surgery.

This was on a Thursday. I was in a lot of pain and had to take more meds than were prescribed. I am aware this is a no-no, but when in that much pain and with my tolerance to pain meds, the Percocet just did not cut it.

My kids helped me into the pharmacy, practically carrying me in on Saturday. But the pharmacist would not fill my script or call my doctor. She just said I should still have Percocet left from the hospital.

So two days after surgery, I was without any pain meds. And I had two more days to wait to see my physician for my regular script.

On Sunday, I developed a fever of 106, due to an infection I must have gotten from the hospital where I had surgery. I never sought medical help, because by that time I had lost all faith in the medical field in general, and was so sick I was delirious and having seizures.

I even had a friend pick up my kids and drive them to their father’s because I was too sick to drive, let alone get out of bed and cook meals.

I was dealing with my usual chronic illness, the pain of surgery, and the infection. On top of it all, I had to go through the withdrawal I suffered due to lack of medication.

I have had four other surgeries recommended and refuse to have them because of the suffering and lack of compassion I had for what was supposed to be a simple biopsy.

I wonder if every doctor, nurse, and pharmacist treated patients as if we were family members, how much pain could be treated and managed properly, instead of patients having to suffer and lose hope.

The doctors in our rural area do not like to treat arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, etc., so they send us out of town or out of the county to pain clinics which are anywhere from an hour to three hours away. With the high cost of gasoline it is ridiculous and when suffering pain, this only adds to it, let alone the risk for sciatica from sitting so long.

When you do get to your appointment, the waiting rooms are so overcrowded sometimes you must stand for lack of seating and wait another hour or two for a nurse to call you into an exam room. Then you sit there up to another hour to actually see the doctor, who has no time to answer questions or discuss the need to change meds or dosages due to your growing tolerance of narcotic pain meds.

If you must go to a pain clinic, you can plan on a whole day shot and much frustration, especially if you also have depression and anxiety. You may experience an outburst of anger, which is unacceptable, and on top of the list to refuse treatment. Then you might have to find a new pain clinic and eventually you may be blacklisted for “doctor shopping.”

Then you have a whole new problem of detoxing and withdrawal from the narcotic pain meds the doctors put you on, but now refuse to continue.

12_7.jpgMargo Caldwell lives in upstate New York with her family.

National Pain Report invites other readers to share their stories with us.

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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

Authored by: Margo Caldwell

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I worked for the pharmacy most mentioned in these pist. I HAD TO LEAVE. I could not sleep at night knowing patients were sufferkng while we dragged our feet calling doctors that did not have time to have us questing their therapy for a “refill too soon’ scenario

Dottie Taylor

I have read the article and all the comments here and honestly, this scares my and causes me anxiety and fear. I have been on Oxycontin 10 mg HCR for about a year for Fibromyalgia and back and neck problems. It took me 8 years to find this Dr. that finally prescribed me this med. I got immediate relief and am able to keep my house in decent order and take care of things that most take for granted. I am still in much pain but I can live with this. Before Oxycontin I would rather have been dead. I worry all the time that this medication will be taken away from me. I am planning a move out of state and am really concerned I wont be able to find another pain dr who will continue to prescribe this medication for me. It is really awful that those who really need this medication have to live in fear or have issues like the poor soul in the article. I agree, who cares if we are addicted to it if this is what we need to have any semblance of life. I just dont get it. I understand it gets abused but for the pharmacist to have any say in our treatment let alone have the authority to contact our doctors for information about our treatment or anything else makes me mad as hell. Seems as though we just dont have rights anymore do we? So sad and frustrating when we suffer so much and we have to deal with this crap. God help us all.

Jeanie Beal

I was told recently by a pain physician the DEA is working towards putting caps on the dosage of Oxycontin. DEA wants to limit dosage to no more than 100 mg per day. It sounds like a lot of medication, but if you have been on this Med for awhile, it is likely a patient will reach the dosage over time. Is everyone aware that Hydrocodone will be a triplicate Med in January? This will severely limit the number of prescribers as well as the doctors that will want to prescribe this Med.


I’m so sorry you had to go through this & hope that you are doing better. I have a friend in western NY who had a similar experience & has had horrible stories about her pain management doctor who dismissed her without weaning her from opiates. This is not only cruel but very dangerous.
I am fortunate to have a doctor that is fed up w/the ever-growing regulations put on treating pain. Of course, he still has to abide by federal laws or risk losing his license.
Don’t give up. Stay pro-active with your Representatives, Congressmen & Governor of your state. That is the only way, we with chronic pain, have a chance of getting the care we need.


I don’t get pain meds after surgery. Im too embarrassed to tell them I cant afford them.

Libby Ral

In Florida, the laws were changed to supposedly control the pill mills. Doctors now have to jump through such hoops to be able to write pain scripts that most of them now just refer patients - guess where? To the pill mills

John Quintner

@ Margo. It is obvious that the “The Oath of Hippocrates” and all subsequent renditions of the physician’s creed have been trampled into the dust. If physicians cannot uphold these ethical standards, what hope is there for our so many of our sick and injured fellow human beings?


your not alone..I was seeing a doctor for a year and all of the sudden she started showing me on her laptop every time I filled my meds and who they were from..of course they were from her but then it all changed some how my old doctors name started showing up and she said she never gave me meds the year I had been seeing her..CVS some how messed every thing up and I went there and got a print out to show my doctor but the front desk would not let me get passed them. I then got loud and 2 people 1 a nurse to talk to me and told me it would be better to find another doctor. I now drive 30 miles one way were before it was 2 blocks. I am in so much pain everyday and it seems no one cares.

Bill H.

I cannot believe for the life of me why doctors are so anti-narcotic medications. I have fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, malignant cancer and a few others most of which creates horrific pain! I feel fortunate that I have a doctor that understands what I am going through. But after major surgery? And the pharmacist has the nerve to assume that you still have some medication left over from the hospital, and won’t fill your Rx? I can go into a short novel as to what I have heard, and frankly my opinions; however what ever happened to empathy, sympathy, the human factor? I know that Percocet, Oxycotin and others are dangerous in the wrong hands, they can be abused as they are now, but those that abuse the medications for “fun” are a minority. With respect to fibromyalgia, I read soon after the demise of Dr. Kavorcian (sp?) that about 25% of his patients had fibro! There is a purpose behind these drugs, that is to help keep the patient as comfortable as possible while they heal, and pain plays a major roll in this. I’ve read where Walgreens now has a more strict policy with Rx’s of these medications in that they can call the doctor, ask more information as to why this is being prescribed, basically questioning the doctors abilities, and the patients viability! That is so wrong! I even read a year or so ago about one of the political members of our community (Arizona) wanting to ban all narcotic meds. The doctors should be more concerned with their patients well being than immediately taking a negative stand on a proven drug. Yes, you do become dependant after continual use, but at that point especially with a chronic pain disease/syndrome that can be rather nasty, who cares. And with a situation like yours, all we want is relief so that we can still pretend we are human. Sorry if this comment is a bit unusual, I am in a major fibro fog at the moment where I cannot put words to my thoughts (one of the many perks we get with fibro), but what is needed is more honest education, not the mentality of “Reefer Madness.”

Colleen Sullivan

Hello Margo. It’s nice to meet you. I’m so saddened by the treatment you got and I know it all too well. 🙁 I can’t believe after something as serious as surgery they would deny you medicine! That’s just disgusting.

I hope things have improved for you ?

Last month I drove the hour and a half to see my pain doctor and actually saw a glimmer of hope. I explained to him how I had run out just one day early and I was worried that the pharmacist would give me hell.. And the doctor said to me that’s really not a big deal. I’m not going to crucify you for running out one day early. I just kind of sat there and stared at him. I was so happy that he actually seemed to understand. I hope maybe things will start to get better for us