By Marleina Hampton, Guest Columnist
At the age of 66, I never thought I would be living my retirement life in pain.
At age 13 I was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. The choice was made that I would wear a cast from my collarbone to my pelvis in order to "hold" the spine straight. Surgery was not an option.
During my late 20's, my back started to bother me and by the time my 30's arrived, I was in pain after standing or sitting. When I moved to California in 1990, I started looking for ways to treat this pain that was getting steadily worse. I did physical therapy, epidurals, prolotherapy and every other office procedure known to man, without success.
In 2003 when the pain was so bad I wanted to die, I had my first back surgery, which gave me some relief. But it wasn't long before I was suffering again.
Fast forward to 2012, I relented and had spinal fusion surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. My back is now fused from T10 to S1, with two titanium rods and 20 screws.
My doctor told me that I would be on some type of pain medication for the remainder of my life. I saw several pain management doctors and finally asked my primary care provider if he would take over my pain management.
In 2015, my husband retired and we moved to Prescott, Arizona. Little did I know that my nightmare was just beginning! I couldn't find a doctor who would accept me as a patient! Prescott has a high number of addiction recovery homes and the pain management doctors refuse to accept appointments without a referral.
I spent weeks trying to find a doctor and was told by medical professionals that they are not comfortable having me as a patient! Just recently, I drove almost 2 hours through rain, ice, and snow to see a pain management doctor in Phoenix. I thought I would receive a higher level of care in a larger city. But when he found out that I was not a candidate for epidurals, he said he wasn't comfortable having me as a patient. That his practice did not prescribe drugs!
In tears, I called my doctors in California and they too were appalled that I was being treated this way. Never in my life did I have a problem receiving medication.
I finally found a doctor who agreed to prescribe pain medication for me. Now I go in every month to pick up my prescriptions. I was told that my doctor continues to receive emails asking him to cut down on the number of opioid prescriptions he writes. He knows what my life would be like with pain medication and said he would fight for me.
If I should be denied pain medication, I will probably join the ranks of many before me who have taken their lives because they no longer can cope with the pain. Every month I wonder if this is the month that my doctor will get tired of the battle. This is not the retirement life I had imagined.
Marleina Hampton lives in Prescott, Arizona.
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 represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.