Observing from The Outside

Observing from The Outside

I witnessed something recently – and it was something that we are aware of about ourselves but watching it in action was interesting.

A good friend of mine, who is also a chronic pain patient, had the bad luck of breaking her hip. She then had the even worse luck of contracting pneumonia postoperatively. She was put on a ventilator shortly after her surgery and basically was aware of nothing for the next 9 days. She came to on Saturday and they removed the vent on Sunday. I think she is still a little traumatized by the whole thing.

She is in Intensive Care, and I spent the day with her. Like all of us, she is scared to ask for pain medication because…well, we all know how we’re treated. This time, she was basically being told one thing – that the nurse (we’ll call her the Ice Queen) would let her know when she could have a pain pill – and then expected to do another – no pain medication unless she asks for it.

Mixed messages are fun, aren’t they?

We brought to her nurse’s attention that it had been six hours since her last pain medication, and that the nurse had told us that she would let us know. The nurse immediately became extremely defensive and began to talk about tapering her down. This is, of course, the response we usually get – the one that we usually expect - the lecture about how dangerous opioids can be.

Denise Hedley

I supported my friend, and kept my mouth shut to the nurse. A very kind doctor came in a few minutes later and I expressed some concern. At this point, my friend was in tears. The doctor really got it. He promised that nobody was going to be tapering anyone and promised to make a note in the chart.

She got her medication and once it took effect, she decided to nap so I left for a little while. When I returned, my friend was in tears again. The pain was ramping up and she was generally emotional from everything that had been going on.

The Ice Queen came into the room, and we asked if she was due any medication any time soon.

“You have to ask for it” replied the Ice Queen. “I think I should warn you that I’m recommending that we start taking you off the medication. I think you’re an addict.”

As you might have guessed, that was just the push needed for both of us to basically go off. But the Ice Queen wasn’t listening.

I’m sure that we were hard to understand because we both started talking at once. Reminding her what had been said just six short hours before.

You could just tell that the Ice Queen was not pleased about being confronted by two chronic pain patients.

After she left the room, my friend and I talked about how this was the perfect example of why we don’t like hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors in general.

We discussed how in our normal lives, we don’t want to be labeled the victim but that at the same time, it was not always easy putting that same old mask on every day. The one that tells the world “I’m fine – don’t you even try to mess with me – I got this.” Whether we really do or not.

It had been a lot of years since she had been through surgery. I had to remind her that this is not the time to postpone things and be a martyr. That this is when you must speak up.

Shift change came – I was so relieved that my friend wouldn’t have to deal with the icy one for too much longer.

Pretty sure the Ice Queen hand-picked who would oversee my friend’s case that night. This dude was just as bad perhaps worse.

My friend told him that she was really having a lot of trouble. That the pain was too much. He wordlessly left the room and came back with a pill. As she took her medicine, he looked straight at me and addressed me directly.

“This medication is dangerously addictive – you don’t realize what you are dealing with.”

That was just about enough.

I looked at him straight on and said “my friend and I are more aware of what this medication does and does not do than you ever will be. We are both chronic pain patients. I doubt that you could handle a day in our shoes.”

My friend was agreeing with me – at this point we may have started raising our voices just a little bit.

He asked what her pain level was, only to be met by a fresh round of tears. The only thing that my friend knew for sure was that she was suffering from a new and different pain. She tried to explain it. This time, he looked at me and asked if I could explain to her what he was asking for.

“We know what you’re asking for – you are asking someone who is in horrific pain already to label her pain. At this point, I don’t know if that is possible.”

I heard sobbing from the bed.

“Do you understand what I’m asking her?” he asked

“Yes – you are asking a woman who is constant pain to define this new pain that is obviously really taking its toll on her.”

“That’s right but do you understand the difference?”

“Yes sir, I do. Surgical pain will get better. She will heal and it will hopefully go away unlike the pain that she already suffers from.” He glared at me, I glared back.

“It’s a pain we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.”

After a long moment, he said “I will just write down that it’s a 10.”

“You don’t get it. This is no 10, it is just different. We are actually used to worse.”

I hear from the bed “it’s a nine.”

He left the room.

A short while later, a wonderful lady came in and told us that they had moved that nurse to a different patient and that she would be taking care of my friend that night.

She might as well have had a halo and wings.

My friend was still upset. I had been preparing to leave anyways, so on my way out, I pulled the new nurse aside.

“My friend and I are chronic pain patients. She has been through a traumatic experience from this whole ordeal.”

I briefly explained how her day had gone. The new nurse had not even had a chance to look at her chart yet. She listened. She had a warm smile.

I told her how there had been mixed messages and how, as chronic pain patients, it isn’t always easy for us to ask when it comes to pain medication. I told her how we are all a little gun-shy from various experiences.

She got it. She really understood. She immediately went back in the room and showed more warmth and compassion than anything we had seen that day.

Knowing that my friend was in good hands for the night, I went to leave. The nurse stopped me. She asked me if I was okay. I told her that for me it was just a normal pain day.

She asked me what number my pain was.

I told her that I function at an 8.

She thanked me for taking the time to talk to her. She thanked me for speaking up – and told me that I should find a way to be heard.

I had to smile. If we can only educate one at a time, then that’s what it will take.

But it was truly interesting to watch the whole scenario play out.

I headed back to the hospital the next day. My friend doesn’t need the extra stress. She is still too weak. If I can help by speaking for her and with her, then I will be there every minute until she is discharged.

We live in quite a world when your encounters with nurses turn into an educational experience…for the nurses…

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Authored by: Denise Hedley

Denise Hedley was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009. Her condition has worsened, and was diagnosed with bilateral RSD in January, 2019. She also suffers from Osteoarthritis, 2 herniated discs, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosis.

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Denise, to me, what you shared, is is an effort to be heard. Your story is one of fear and deep compassion. How do we share our experiences with others in our same predicament? How do we share with the professionals taking care of us? And beyond? We are afraid to share. And afraid to speak. Fear is a strong emotion.

I know exactly what you are describing. It’s happening daily in many places but the story isn’t told. Who will listen? Who will take action? How can we speak when we fear a bad reaction or misunderstanding - making situations worse? How can we speak to address lacking compassion - the longing to stop needless suffering? It starts with stories like this.

I understand the refusal of labels. I don’t know of a group, or a single individual that likes a label. What is missing is respect and dignity. The holding back of the tide pushing us into one big cluster of addicts. When in reality the “looking away” of the trauma and suffering is what makes us upset. Helpless against the current!

I don’t think you can demand compassion or understanding. I believe you can demand to be heard. I’m glad you are trying to be heard. I’m sorry for your friends pain. I am thankful you pushed to care for her.

Cindy too


I think your post today which states that you did file a grievance which resulted in a positive change is very important info which personally, I would have liked to see in your column b/c that provides more info for readers as to how you dealt w/the problem, and that the grievance was successful.

If I recall correctly, several posts suggested filing such a grievance, while I posted that I might fear doing so until I was out of the hospital and out of the way of any revenge treatment.

Learning that your grievance was a success is very useful info for anyone who may face a similar situation.

As to insulting the nurse — no matter how much someone may deserve a verbal knock-down, if that will harm and not help my end-goal, then I try to keep my mouth shut. And, esp in adversarial situations, I think it’s far better to stick to the issue at hand and not get personal.

You seem to assume, and then to assert, w/o any basis at all, that no one else could deal w/your pain. But you manage to deal with it, and so why couldn’t someone else? I simply can’t understand making any unfounded assumption. I also cant’ understand saying such a thing, plus I believe that doing so doesn’t accomplish anything positive; and if accomplishes anything at all, it’s to alienate the person you need as an ally.

Also, for all you know, someone like that anti-pain-med nurse may feel that way b/c he/she deals w/ terrible pain w/o any meds and so believes that anyone can. My guess for such a person is that if they can manage w/o meds, then their pain isn’t as bad as they think it is. But, pain is subjective and there’s certainly no way to know that, esp about a stranger.

It’s also possible that someone like that nurse has lost a loved one to an OD, and if so, I’d choose my words carefully.

If you dont’ know, then you don’t know.

Denise H

Cindy Too and others…

One of the first things I did after we met the ice queen’s replacement was file a grievance with the hospital. They responded to my friend the next day and her last couple of days in the hospital were quite different. Her pain was more controlled and they were much more respectful of her.

And okay - maybe I shouldn’t have insulted the nurse, but he had it coming at that point. And I talked to my friend about it and she remembers it a slight bit differently - she remembers both of us telling him that, and she remembers him responding with “you’re probably right.” I have actually had former doctors tell me that they don’t think they could handle what we go through.


as a registered nurse, I help people with pain whenever I can. if they have pain meds ordered, I make sure they get it. if they need pain meds ordered, I make the call to the Dr. and hope for the best. I can’t understand nurses who don’t or won’t give patients their pain medications.

Cindy too

I have some questions about some things that people have posted, and one related question for the author. I hope that the people I’m asking will answer.

I believe it was Margie, a nurse, who posted that patients should immediately complain to the on-duty Nursing Supervisor. On the one hand, I agree. But, OTOH, it makes me nervous to complain about anyone who has so much power over me. Complaining after I’m discharged doesn’t help me for that problem but keeps me safe from any revenge. I don’t know how to balance that, esp in this climate of opioid paranoia where the supervisor may very well support the nurse.

Similarly, when the author told a nurse that she “doubt[s] that you could handle a day in our shoes” —- why insult him in that personal way in addition to complaining about the meds? Why get him more mad at you than he already was, and why make it more personal than it needed to be? That statement focuses on him instead of on the issue, and, that statement has no basis in fact as you have no way of knowing his experience with pain. And, again, he has power over your friend. I dont’ see how insulting him is a wise strategy. I dont’ see how that could help your attempts at advocacy. I can only see it hurting.

I also have a question about the person who posted that the nurses have no decision making power over dispensing opioids and that they only do what the docs instructed. How sure are you of this? The long-experienced nurse who posted didn’t mention that as an issue.

And I have a question for the person who posted something about the Cleveland Clinic giving only tylenol in 2020. Is this a written policy? Does it apply to every situation including surgery? You are completely certain of this? I’ve been thinking about going there for a full diagnostic workup b/c in addition to my pain, I have so many other problems. But that’s terrifying, if true, and I don’t think I’d go there in that case.


I am an RN with a chronic pain syndrome.I am furious that our government has created such a fiasco and patients are suffering because of it! Unfortunately, even RNs are subject to
being brainwashed by the terribly inaccurate media hysteria over the manufacturered opioid crisis.It is each RNs responsibility to learn the true facts and to continue to safely medicate those in their care.In fact chronic pain patients taking narcotics to control their pain need MORE narcotics during an acute pain period, such as having surgery not less. Also chronic pain patients with a history of safely taking narcotics as prescribed are safe bets for providers.It is new pain patients and the opioid naive patients that must be carefully prescribed to.Also the commenter who pointed out it the doctor and also now PAs and NPs that prescribe the pain order…DO NOT kid yourself..the beside nurses who are there 24 hours a day have a lot more say in the care and orders than you would think.The reason is precisely that we are there and our assessments and report of those assessments are taken seriously.Your friend should have been safely medicated to control her pain.In doing so she can get up and move and easily take a deep breath and not suffer heedlessly.By keeping her pain level low she can also keep other complications low such as pneumonia ,DVT and pulmonary embolus.

Denise H

Leslie Meadows - she was brought into the ER with a broken hip. There was no time or forethought to gather her meds from home. I’m not sure it would have done any good anyway. The attitude at that hospital towards pain was, to me, not only unfathomable but unacceptable as well. I have literally changed insurance so that I can stay as far away from that hospital system as possible.

To everyone else - thank you so much for the support. My friend is thankfully out of the hospital now and at home recovering and in control of her own medication. For the record, she loved this article.

Our experience though really showed me just how much worse it is than I originally thought, and as disgusting as it was, I found it somewhat fascinating to observe this as both a chronic pain patient and a general observer of human nature. I’ve started refusing procedures that require sedation or medicating because I can’t be completely assured that my best interests are being taken into consideration. We as chronic pain patients live in a very sad and unbelievably cruel world when we are allowed to suffer like this just as a part of being alive.

Keep fighting everyone. Unfortunately, I fear that our battle has only just begun.

Maureen M.

Dear Denise, Thank you for this story. It is horrific to read and hard to fathom! I felt so sorry for your friend and am grateful for you to be there to witness and to stand up for her.
There she is in ICU, no less!, having to deal with such pain and emotional upset! Disgusting!
I am a disabled/now retired nurse and I just can’t grasp a nurse treating a patient that way. Shame shame shame on them! Please report them.
Im sure the others feel the same…a revolt against this attitude and negligence needs to happen in this country! We just can’t be afraid to go to hospitals anymore!
God bless you for your valiant efforts taken in her room.
I pray that she quickly heals well and gets to her safe home ASAP!

Gail Honadle

They need a PUKE level pain which is past 10. A Level that can and does cause Heart Attacks, Strokes and Suicides.


Please excuse my naïveté, I am lucky that I haven’t been in the hospital, obviously, since a couple of years before the CDC changes.

I have dealt with plenty of doubting Thomases of course, & I have no trouble insisting on what I need. I am then labeled as belligerent or aggressive!

I agree that the minute I can be taken care of at home or moved to Rehab, I would release myself.

My question is: why isn’t anyone sneaking in their meds from home? I know all the hospital BS, but seriously, are they likely to shake down a friend or family member every they visit?

I know they say you can’t bring in anything from home, they denied my Dad’s nebulizer, which he really needed when he was dying from Emphazema. I won’t even get into the horrifying incident that caused his death.

Even in the ER when I was having kidney stones, I kept telling them that the level of pain med they provided wasn’t enough (2 mg Dilaudid) & the last time it took 4 mg to ease the pain. I told them to check with the Pain Mgt Dept, & they checked my Chart & called PM and slowly increased to 4 mg, something like 2 hours later! They just didn’t believe me when I told them repeatedly that 2 mg wasn’t doing anything for me because “normally” it was plenty. Maybe that’s true for someone who hasn’t been on pain medication since 1997, but they really ought to be educated as to how pain management works.

Pain Management is not the same as Addiction, or else I wouldn’t be around after more than 20 years! Duh.


To Denise Hedley
Linda Cheek

Denise, you are amazing, we all need at least one of you as our friend. This special gal of yours, I can’t hardly imagine how awful it must have been for her with all that you noted, but having to endure it all with a broken hip, a condition that renders one trapped in their bed, who can’t even get out of her bed to fend for herself. Had she brought her own meds with her she couldn’t have gotten them on her own. But oh how my heart bleeds for her and all the suffering she’s had to endure. After making it through the serious fall, then getting pneumonia and losing time an, becoming disoriented, then having all of your chronic pain doing a rush on your body like that, AND your body having no usual pain medication getting to help with it, which is going to be worse for the lack of medicine, that’s almost too much to bare, it truly is. You are Two Angels ….. to me you are!
You both are in my prayers.


I don’t speak much of those times anymore that your story reminds me of so much, but I hear you loud and clear about that horrendous length of time you all spent in that hospital! The circumstances only God could see you through. The incredible body pain and injury over a lifetime, please know that there are strangers out here offering up prayer for you, that your burdens will be greatly lessened for the rest of your life. You have earned it and paid for it.

Linda Cheek,

I am sorry you feel some bitterness over this topic; it sounds like you have probably done a lot in regard to chronic pain patients, have your own chronic pain and/or debilitating health problems or maybe for even a family member. Please know, you are not alone in your own fight to help correct this out-of-control opioid crisis! There are so many men and women, professionals in many areas of expertise, who have and are pouring their hearts and souls and lives into this effort also. They are making a huge difference alongside with you. Keep your chin up!

old -goat

I hope you document this and file a complaint with the hospital administrator. Just because you got a nurse that was okay at some point, doesnt mean the bad ones should get away with torture. It would not be much of a surprise to find your friend had been “given” pain medication she never received. You read about addict medical professionals all the time. Perhaps if these people had to go through a urine screen every time there was an issue with providing pain relief, there would be less hassle for patients to get it. After all, its no more of a standard than we have to meet….


The situation chronic pain sufferers are facing is frightening to me, I’ve been dealing with it since I was 25 yrs old. I’m 58 yrs old now. For the longest time I rejected opioids due to some family members attitude toward them. One day it just got to be to much, they couldn’t understand what I lived with on a daily basis and it was time to help myself live a better life. We have got to stand up against this treatment. We are not the ones being given drugs to counteract an OD due to opioid abuse…we are the ones taking our pain meds responsibly. Don’t punish us for their choice to abuse anything they can get their hands on!
I am in awe of what you did for your friend and I’m sure she was so grateful to you for all you did. I can only shake my head in disbelief that this is what it’s coming to for chronic pain patients. All those who have written on here know what it’s like for us with level 8 pain even with our meds…it is cruel and unfathomable to think what might lie ahead for us.

Folks, the doctor dictates how,when, what the patient gets after surgery not the nurse. Nurse follows orders the doctor writes. Nurse gives additude not to be question. Its call doctors orders. I will be seeing surgeon again for which i kn he will say i need a repeat surgery. I worse off after the first surgery, i cant bring my self to do it again even though i am worse off now. Quality of Mobility has gone down drastically. And a lot more pain constantly now . wish I never had the first surgery. Blame the doctors and I know some nurses are witches with a B instead of w. They cover their Rears as well. Thats why Corporate America buying hospitals tells/hires doctors, what do you think all this comes from controlling opiates/no opiates.

Jennifer Frederick Turner

I understand exactly what your friend went through. I had an ankle replacement surgery and they were giving me less pain medication than I normally get with my cervical and Lumbar spondylitis and before the ankle surgery, ankle arthritis. They would give me 5 mg of Norco every 6 hours. I thought I was going to die and no one would listen to me. Your friend is very lucky to have a friend like you to stick up for her! I’m just now starting to meet people with chronic pain in different groups that I go to but during that time everyone I knew I had no idea what I was dealing with. A limb has to be falling off of me before I go back to the hospital for any type of surgery ever again! I know that sounds funny but I’m totally serious. Thank you for telling us your story❤

Dick fort

It’s so funny how they wanna talk shit when they themselves have never ever had to take as many different pain meds till we find one that works let alone just taking the meds everyday, and it’s funny too how when it ain’t them in the bed in pain they wanna be judgemental and think and tell u what is best for u, iv learned over the years no one knows my body and what I’m feeling then me, I literally get better diagnosising myself using the internet to look up all the systems I’m having , if it was those nurses in that bed with a broken hip and phunenua it’d be a totally different story guaranteed

Mary W.

To @Steven
The American Medical Association recommended AGAINST the CDC “Guidelines”. The AMA is a powerful organization and can turbocharge advocacy for scientific perspective in treating pain (cancer or non-cancer). Maybe our AMA will push harder with us. Doesn’t it seem that the CDC was attempting to rewrite the Harrison Act of 1914 without putting a legitimate bill through our Congress?

Mary W.

You are a champion in protecting your friend! Post-op pain can really hurt! I remember healing from a first trimester miscarriage (D & C was performed) and about four days afterwards, my internal pelvic area began really hurting. My ob-gyn physician Rx’d Percocet 10/325 tablets….and I also took 1000mg of Bayer Aspirin. Pain worsened. Husband drove me in a panic to ER. Mercifully, the ER Attending Dr ordered IV Fentanyl. Yes, it took IV Fentanyl to get my internal female parts out of post D & C pain. It was agonizing. ER triaged me with blood tests, treated me with respect and ER Attending physician confirmed “No infection”.

But my meds back in 1996 until 1999 were PRN, whether for my cervical spine injury or other. In 1999 I was referred to a pain management practice and began daily extended release treatment for my spinal injury.

Can you imagine the horror if you were not at your dear friend’s bedside? How she would have suffered?


Thank you for writing this article, it is true to many experiences that I have had and although it makes me sad that other people are having these problems it also helps me feela little more sane.


I also would also like to address the 1 - 10 pain scale. What area of my husband’s body are you referring to today? One day it’s a 9 for his knees, the next it might be a 6, but his shoulder is a 9 and his back is also a 9. Stupid doctor, when my husband said his average pain was a 9, he said really? You consider a 10 as worst possible pain imaginable, like a shark ripping your arm off, and you are a 9? Why yes, his pain is that bad, even now with his accident behind him and enduring the worst possible pain imaginable.


This is the problem with medical ‘professionals’ who believe the PROP [edit] about the ‘dangers’ of analgesic pain meds used by chronic pain patients. I had similar experience beginning early Nov 2017. My husband had been taking high dose of a certain opioid pain med for 10+ years with excellent results. He recently had to change doctors (17 yrs with same doc who dropped all chronic patients, investigations anyone?) and new doc decreed that the opioid was causing his pain, so would taper him off after tapering the evil benzo he had also been taking, also with excellent results, for anxiety. No luck finding another doctor, of course. He then had a catastrophic fall that shattered his pelvis & elbow, broke his shoulder and several ribs, then had more ribs broken by 20 min of CPR to keep him alive due to internal bleeding. He had 6 surgeries, spent a week in ICU. I gave doctors his med list, and they kept him comfortable in the ICU, mainly due to IV meds. 2 days after being moved out of ICU to ortho-surgical wing, the nurse brought him his pain meds (he was so new, they did not have his meds listed up yet so I did not know). I asked her what he was getting. It was one pain pill and a fistful of Tylenol - total daily dose of opioid 80% LOWER than before! After screaming my head off for days (almost literally) because my husband was in agony, the head of pain management for this trauma hospital finally deigned to come to his room to inform us that his dose of pain meds would not be increased because ‘I will not risk my license, or the license of any of the doctors on staff, by over-prescribing opioid pain medication’. My husband spent 4 weeks in this hospital out of ICU, in total agony. They had to insert a feeding tube because his pain was so horrific he could not eat.
Luckily the rehab facility did raise the dose some and he did recover from injuries, but he is now on less than half of prior dose and prior problems are worse. Gotta love those professionals!


What a ghastly experience for your friend and for you! I’m glad there were at least two caring medical personnel at that hospital. With all that’s happened since the 2016 “Guidelines”-and especially after reading this post-I am more apprehensive than ever about the possibility of needing to go to the hospital or having surgery. At 83 “stuff happens”, but unless I were reasonably sure of adequate pain control, I think I would reject surgery or other painful invasive procedures. I might well check myself out “AMA” if I am not immobile and/or having an immediate life-threatening emergency.

Unless the current approach to pain treatment changes, I think there will be unintended consequences. There will be more situations in which patients, perhaps especially older adults, will forego essential procedures, including surgery, because they simply cannot handle any more pain than they’re already experiencing. Their medical condition, functionality and quality of life will deteriorate as a result. They could lose their independence and need expensive long term care. I could be one of them. With a daily pain level of 5-7+, I’m not up for much more! This is not a healthy state of affairs for individuals or society.

When I was young, hospitals used to be places of healing. Not in the 21st century, it seems. I hope not to find myself there except for end of life care that cannot be managed at home through hospice.

Tom Cuddy

I do wish broken kneecaps on any health care professional who dismiss all pain sufferers as addicts

I’ve warned and warned people about the future if they don’t learn and teach The REAL Cause of Drug Abuse. Soon there won’t be any opioids, and it will take 50 years to get them back. So, when are people going to learn? It’s entirely up to you. I can’t do it alone.

Leslie Meadows

Is there a reason she did not take her medications with her to the hospital? When I have to go I always take all my meds,so the staff can see what I’m on and the dosage.


Empathy is a dead subject where more and more nurses are concerned. Having been indoctrinated into the school of thought that all opioids are instantly addicting, there is no room in their dead minds but that opioids are a drug to make more addicts. I believe all anti-opioid hating nurses should be required by law to have to endure at least three hours of level 8 pain to awaken their suppressed empathy.


I think my blood pressure just went as high as it could without keeling over reading this. These nurses should NOT be taking care of anyone in chronic pain. This was so uncalled for! Thank God you were there! This whole BS opioid epidemic has gone so far out of control..I’m at a loss for words….


When my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer her surgeon was also a teacher so 5 to 8 men and women followed him around so he could humiliate them. After my mom had a 12 hour surgery removing layer after layer of her pancreas til it was gone (along with a 5th or her stomach and a 5th of her intestines) she was in intensive care for weeks. One of the students decided she needed to undergo a treatment that left her and the room a mess. The surgeon got a call from my angry stepdad. The surgeon breezed in the room with all his current students AND the nurses, he asked who requested, approved and carried out that treatment. When the idiots raised their hands he called them forward. The yelling and berating of these people was VERY loud and VERY long. He reiterated for everyone there that THEY were NOT doctors. And anyone who followed the instructions of non doctors was not welcome on his floor. After he made each involved person apologize to my mother, he failed 2 student residents and have 5 nurses fired or reassigned.

My mom survived 14 years without a pancreas thanks to this surgeon. Sadly, he and doctors like him are all gone.

I am so sorry for your friend. For all of us who can’t get respect or be shown common human decency.

Its only going to get worse.

Kris Aaron

Every pain patient needs a friend like you!!
This experience isn’t unusual — most hospitals have at least several medical professionals who appoint themselves unofficial “opioid police.” They’re determined to get patients off even a small dose of opioids as soon as possible, as if addiction is the absolute WORST thing that could possibly happen to them!!
It might help if supportive friends create a “patient patrol” so someone can be present at all times and document conversations between nurses, physicians, orderlies and the individual in the bed. Record all interactions and be prepared to submit the remarks to the ward’s nursing supervisor and the hospital’s board of directors.
Petty bureaucrats determined to wield what little power they have infest every profession. But they inflict massive harm when they have control over our health care and pain treatment.

Michael Kastner

Good for you !!!

Michael Kastner

My Goddess I am so proud of you and your poor patient friend, although your article scares me to death as I too am facing probable major surgery soon. I’m am going to have a discussion and written Pain Contract prior to surgery with the dr insisting on my everyday chronic pain meds PLUS whatever it takes for the acute pain. I know. Good luck !! Otherwise, trust, I will self medicate. Peace and health to you and your recovering friend.

vicky swift

nauseating to read this and remember the inhumane way i was treated on numerous hospital visits a few years ago. i wish all the nurses who get off on abusive behavior would get mowed down by chronic pain as well. let them walk a mile in our shoes.

Duane B. Michaels

I always find it interesting how us chronic and intractable pain patients are asked to put a number on our pain level from one to ten. I’ve had a cervical fusion, ruptured and herniated discs. Fallen off ladders when I was young. Been in multiple vehicle accidents by no falt of mine and now at sixty years old truly disabled.

I’ve been through chemotherapy and approximately eleven surgeries. Had bone and other biopsies and a multitude of procedures which have been uncomfortable. The problem I have is as I age these incidents are much harder to tolerate. I’d compare it to an old car or machine that eventually becomes worn out. Easy to explain but hard to really feel unless you’ve been there. It’s clear verbal descriptions of pain can’t be felt by someone who doesn’t have that issue.

One thing that happens to me is a neurological problem most likely. I become so severely cramped that I usually end up on the ground screaming in pain and have to absorb Valium under my tounge to help alleviate the symptoms. I always am asked my pain level when I get seen. It’s so bad that I describe it as being off the chart. I say that I live with a seven or eight level daily from a tractor trailer accident. Although when I experience these cramping episodes it’s like a fifteen ! Worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. So in reality it’s a ten !

Now I don’t know what it’s like to have my legs blown off by a landmine, or my arm severed by an ax or some horrific incident.
So if that pain is worse than my cramping attacks is it still a ten or should I call it a twenty ?

The point of reference from zero to ten is in my eyes very useless. I like to be a little more sensible about the scenario. The question is do I need an aspirin or a
motrin ? Is it bad enough I need something stronger ? Is it worse than anything I’ve ever experienced before ? Am I able to tolerate something non-narctic ?
If not, give me pain meds if I ask. Especially in the hospital !


Come on, with an advocate or not 9 of 10 people like this are dead within a week of going home. The human body breaks down. Any pow will tell you the same. Despite having a advocate I can hold on very little more. Friends gone family sick of me. I will be better in the lap of JESUS. You doctors should be ashamed of yourselves. You as a group could have stopped this holocaust against pain patients yet you let us die in our own feces and urine. One less pill he says today knowing we will see him nomore.!!!

After 40 years of Nursing, all I can tell you is that some people do not belong in our profession. Unfortunately, because of the recent past declining job market, nursing careers were one of the sure-fire ways to ensure employability and good pay. Coupling this with nurses leaving the field - from burn-out -and colleges wanting to make money- thus churning out nurses as fast as possible - we were left with many far less-than-stellar candidates. Long gone are the nurses who were hand-selected out of hundreds of candidates to attend grueling 3 year hospital-based nursing schools - and who endured those programs uncomplainingly because we had a true calling. I myself attended a three year program that was three FULL years - 12 consecutive semesters -no summers off. We were not allowed to marry. One of my classmates who did kept it a closely guarded secret until graduation. That definitely takes a calling. What we are left with are desperate people who want the job security and the steady paycheck. You need to know this. These people do not deserve to be treated like “angels of mercy” because they are not. They have no business in the profession, but there they are. This is how low standards for nurses have sunk. So do not be afraid to speak up. Do what I do. Pick up the phone in your room, dial O, and ask the operator for the Nursing Supervisor on your floor, and tell her your story. Make sure you NAME NAMES. Tell your doctors- every one - about the poor quality of care you are receiving. Always have a good friend or family member with you to advocate for you. This is essential. You may be too weak to fight your own fight, and you need a fighter by your side. Have them document EVERYTHING. Make sure you ask for a patient care survey when you are discharged and fill it out. Make photocopies of it, and send it to the Director of Nursing and the Medical Director, Hospital CEO. and anyone else you want to hear your message. Your words benefit all of us patients.


I am SO upset right now !! I do not know wether to scream, throw my phone or just cry… I did all three! To think that now if you need pain medicine after surgery you are an addict I am speechless! This goes along with the Huge Cleveland Clinic starting with Tylenol after surgery in 2020!!! I am SO upset! This is outrageous this woman had to be put through this!! This also shows just like pharmacies the nurses on the floor are NOT following the doctors orders! Just think of all the people out there that do not have an Awesome friend like you or even have friends that agree start with Tylenol and bite a bullet! My God I was going to say we have gone back 200 years but They Had Pain Medicine Then… Now We Don’t!

Amy Lewis

The situation you described is the same as I experienced in the early 1970’s as an 11 year old child after an accident while horse back riding with 1 exception. I wasn’t told the medication was addictive but I did know it. I was subjected to my surgeon’s efforts to set my broken bones without surgery on a daily basis for 15 days straight with NO sedation. I was in much pain. This scenario of withholding pain medication after surgery is exactly what the changes in the early 2000’s was about! I’m sorry your friend went through this. It’s unacceptable.

I’m willing to bet that the Ice Queen or the Ice King have never had a day of pain in their lives or have had their pain medicine stripped from them as well, one of the two. No matter what their issues, after surgery is not a time for a lecture on pain medication, especially when it states right there in your chart(or should anyway) that you’re a chronic pain patient. We didn’t invent this term our doctors did. There’s quite the difference between the chronic pain patient and the plain old fashioned junky looking for their next fix. So far I’ve yet to hear of a junkie being able to have surgery just to get pain medicine. Do correct me if I’m wrong. I shake my head in disbelief wondering what on earth our world is coming to and the hateful people that live in it. The kind are few and far between!

Typical from most of our hospitals.