Most of you who know me know that I have had some medical problems since my heart attack and by-pass surgery back in 1995. I have sought to live well, exercised daily until back surgeries in 2002 and 2004. Up to then things seemed to be going fairly well. Since the second back surgery I have had a five level fusion of cervical discs, cardiac stents, atrial fibrillation ablation, type II diabetes, kidney disease, and heart failure. Over those years I have moved to the point where I am 100% disabled by the Veterans Administration.
Now here is the thing… I have always tried to do the healthy more than the unhealthy. I have sought to take as little medications as possible, only using those meds which were really necessary. When they did not agree with me or made me feel sluggish I would ask the doc for different meds or just not take them at all.
I remember having leg pains and numbness after my second back surgery. They tried me on several different meds… all of which made me feel terrible. I, therefore, just endured and worked through the pain and numbness. When they would prescribe oxycodone or hydrocodone I would only take half what they prescribed and for a much shorter time. I don’t like that stuff but use it only to get through some periods of pretty tough pain.
I have mentioned all of this because of what happened today. Back in the middle of December I did something to my shoulder/back which may have been associated with moving some furniture. It has been so painful that I can’t function all that well and have spent many sleepless nights full of pain.
In early January I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my primary care physician. I shared the story and asked if he could prescribe prednisone to help with the healing and the pain, and refer me to a specialist. He prescribed a five day round which worked very well. However, on the sixth day (a Saturday) the severe pain returned. I called the doc on Monday and he again prescribed prednisone but in a different order.
Yesterday was the day I met with the specialist…(one I had seen before) spending four hours in his office (partly dew to an emergency in the office). After x-rays and discussion he diagnosed that it may have something to do with the vertebra below the disc fusion in my neck, and referred me to a neurosurgeon.
We talked about the terrible pain I have been experiencing and what medication I may need to help me through this. He mentioned oxycodone and/or hydrocodone. I responded by saying that I didn’t like that stuff, took less than prescribed, and would only take it to get through the most severe pain. So, he prescribed Tramadol 50MG… which is an entry level pain med in the codeine family.
I waited till around 10:30 last night to take this med. Believe it or not, it didn’t even touch the pain. I spent the entire night almost in tears. I spent time in every room in the house, on every couch, in every chair, in every bed in the house. At 8:00 this morning I placed a call to this doctor’s office. I shared my story, told about the level 10 pain I thought I was experiencing, and left word asking for the doc to prescribe something in the oxycodone or hydrocodone family. I figured that since we talked about this yesterday he would understand.
I called early so that I could get pain meds and out of pain as soon as possible. I called them again at 10:00 and I was told: “We don’t work that quickly. The message has been sent to him and he has it.” I thanked them and continued in pain. I called again at 12:30pm and again at 2:30pm and was told that my primary care physician must prescribe this medication. I called my PCP and his nurse called back letting me know they would not could not prescribe the meds because I was under the care of the specialist… “Sorry, that is the way it works.”
I called the specialist office again at 3:15pm explaining what I had been told. After being on and off hold I was told that the doc was working in the clinic and would get back to me. It is now 8:44pm and I am hurting. More than that I feel like my primary care doctor does not care and certainly not this specialist… it has been over twelve hours that he has known that one of his patients has been in severe pain all that time. The second thing that upsets me is that I now believe my doctors, whom I have trusted for years, somehow seem to think that I want pain killers for some other reason than to control severe pain. This hurts deeply, doc. I deserve better and you should be more compassionate about the people who pay your bills… who come to you for help and healing.
Yes, I may be looking for a new Primary Care Physician, and I certainly will not return to see this specialist.