By Jillian Drexler, Guest Columnist
I’ve been going to the same pain management doctor for over 8 months. While at these appointments, I see the physician assistant (PA) far more often than I see the doctor.
The PA is a very unpleasant person and lacks basic compassion and bedside manner. At an appointment last year, I was crying because of my pain and lack of sleep, and she couldn’t even be bothered to hand me a tissue. She was just more of her typical overbearing, sarcastic self.
Since I’ve been going there, I’ve been prescribed tramadol (which I’m allergic to), Lyrica (causes my wrists and ankles to swell and my pain to worsen), compound cream, lidocaine patches, Flector patches and a TENS unit. I’ve also had a few injections, with the most recent ones causing severe adverse effects.
They would have a better idea of what medications work and don’t work for me had they bothered to read the medication genetic testing report my primary care physician ordered. But, the pain management doctor turned down making copies on two occasions. They finally made a copy when I asked a medical assistant instead of the doctor or PA to make copies.
They’ve asked me more than once what opioids have worked for me in the past. I tell them and also explain that these medications have only been prescribed in the ER and after surgeries. Either way, I’m still denied the opioids I know can help alleviate some of my pain and improve my quality of life.
I’ve passed their drug tests and jumped through their hoops, only to get nothing in return but treatments that don’t work. On one occasion, the PA told me she didn’t know what I expected her to do about my fibromyalgia because that wasn’t her “baby.”
Often, they fail to realize I’m not just a patient, but a paying customer. And a very unhappy one, too. They don’t care though.
Patients are told they should play an active role in their treatment, but when we do, it doesn’t seem to matter. Nothing changes. We're perceived as drug seekers or told we’re exhibiting drug seeking behavior. It could never be that we’re in legitimate pain and hoping for relief.
I don’t ask for much from my medical team other than respect, answers and help with an improved quality of life. I’m 33 years old and this life wracked with pain isn’t living. I’m simply existing and missing out on so much in life. I’ve lost my ability to work, provide for my family and spend quality time with them.
I recently was denied for disability again. I wonder if the government ever considered just how many of us are forced to stop working because our pain medications were reduced or stopped entirely.
The CDC should have come up with something for us before putting their guidelines in place. It’s wrong and unfair that we are being punished for the actions of the guilty few. Because of this, the issue becomes an “us vs. them” situation. Addicts need love and treatment, just like any other patient, but while lifesaving measures are in place for them, we’re left feeling slighted and wondering if anyone cares about us. Already, far too many chronic pain patients have lost hope and feel there is no other option but to end their lives.
My governor recently announced plans to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to 7 days. Gov. John Kasich said it won’t effect chronic pain patients, but I tend to doubt that. I mean, how could it not? Ohio is considered one of the hardest hit states in the heroin and opioid epidemic.
Last September, a new state law was approved that allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with qualifying medical conditions. The program won’t be in operation until September 2018.
If we’re going through such a difficult time getting opioids, I can just imagine how difficult it will be getting a medical marijuana card and then the marijuana itself. If a pain patient is still working, many would risk losing their jobs because some employers have publicly said they will have no tolerance for marijuana use for any reason.
Ultimately, there’s no win here for chronic pain patients, not as this time. We must stick together and fight for our right to a life of reduced pain. Respect, improved quality of life, and effective treatment aren’t too much to ask for. They wouldn’t take blood pressure medication away from someone who has hypertension or insulin from a diabetic, so why deny or take medications away from pain patients?
Jillian Drexler is from Cincinnati, Ohio. She lives with fibromyalgia, bulging and herniated discs in her neck and back, migraines, sciatica, and post tubal ligation syndrome (PTLS).
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.