By Staci Dangerfield, Guest Columnist
I have an appointment to see my pain management clinic today and I am afraid.
I am always afraid before these appointments. I am afraid I'll once again be told that I am ineligible for pain medication. I am afraid that I'll again be pressed to do trigger point injections, despite their proven inefficiencies.
I am afraid that I'll be taken off one or more antidepressants and placed on others. Though I admit I am depressed, my depression has little to do with actual hormonal or emotional imbalances and a whole lot more to do with being in constant and relentless pain.
I am afraid that I will once again be passed on to a nurse practitioner or, as happens usually, a student nurse. I have yet to meet with a doctor.
I am worried that my attempts to convey my symptoms will be met with skepticism and just as often absolute negation. I feel like I am taunted by the school yard bully: "Lose weight, exercise, use positive thinking, rest more, sleep less, be more social” and so on and so on. My tears and sobs scoffed at, to the point I am distraught, giving credence to the antidepressant regime.
I am afraid that asking once again for narcotic and opioid pain relief, a proven and effective treatment for me, will lead to the “drug seeker” label. I am afraid that the moment the treatment room door closes, I will once again face dehumanization and my legitimate diagnosis becomes a game of Russian roulette.
How much more pain can I accept before I really do lose my mind and those antidepressants that I now do not need will become my lifeline to sanity, as I force my body to endure the radically painful sub-existence the doctors took an oath to prevent? Up, up, and up those dosages go until I am no longer capable of articulating my physical pain. Not that the pain goes away, mind you, because I am emotionally too numb to fight the pain.
I once read that pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. So why is my body being ignored in favor of shutting down my pain receptors and as a byproduct my entire emotional spectrum?
I am afraid of having to tell the pain center that my dentist ordered me 15 Norco pills because I have a massive abscess in my tooth. Today is my pain clinic appointment and tomorrow I will have three teeth extracted. Will I be punished for accepting the precious pain relief the dentist offered?
I didn't ask my dentist for pain relief. He saw my pain. He assessed how badly I needed relief and he ordered a minimal amount of medication to last the week of antibiotics, until the extraction could be done. I am afraid of the response from the pain clinic. Like a bad girl who knows she'll be severely punished.
More than anything, I am afraid of going back to the pain clinic with hope. Hope that this time there will be time to hear me. Hope that this time I will be treated humanely and with compassion. Hope that there will be a dialog of options that includes treatment of my physical pain. Hope that I will leave that clinic with a sense of peace, with a prescription for my pain. Hope that tomorrow I can wake up with a little less pain and a bit of anticipation for a better day. Hope that government stays out of my doctor’s office.
More than anything else, I want to not be afraid. I want to believe that hope is an option again.
Staci Dangerfield suffers from fibromyalgia, neuropathy, chronic fatigue, post-traumatic stress syndrome, severe anxiety, degenerative disc disease and chronic migraines. Staci lives in Alabama with her family.
Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to: editor@PainNewsNetwork.org.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.