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.
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.
Margo Caldwell lives in upstate New York with her family.
National Pain Report invites other readers to share their stories with us.
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.