Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Untreated Pain is NOT Acceptable!

Everyone's experienced pain, right?  Sure.  A stubbed toe.  A paper cut.  A broken bone.  Childbirth.  Kidney stones.  Varying types and degrees of pain, which are no respecters of race, gender, or social status.  Pain is one thing that is common to everyone.

Now, I want you to imagine the worst pain you've ever felt.  Got that visualized?  Good.  Now, imagine that pain lasting for YEARS.  And then multiply it by at least 10.  Appalling?  Yeah.  Now, imagine that you've finally gotten some relief from that unending, grinding, nightmare of pain.  You're able to function somewhat.  You can occasionally go to the store, or to a family event, or on short vacations.  Possibly, you can even work.  And then, one day, something happens.  You get sick.  You have one doctor, who isn't normally part of your team of physicians, tell your pain management doctor that your pain medications may interfere with one aspect of your health--say, your breathing.  This new doctor's recommendation is that your narcotic pain medications be removed.  So they are, slowly, of course, so that you don't suffer too badly from withdrawal, but another effect is that you have longer to visualize your life without relief.  But your pain hasn't gone away in all this time.  Oh, no, it's still there.  Waiting.  And so you ask your pain specialist, "What are we going to use to manage my pain?"  And you get no answer.  And the pain is coming back, and you're willing to do anything to make it STOP.

Okay, if that's not bad enough, how about this? 

Imagine someone you love is in pain like that.  Imagine that all you can do is watch him or her hurt.  And cry.  And pray for relief, whether through medication, a new procedure, or even death.  Just so the pain is gone.  Imagine crying yourself to sleep while you pray for healing for your loved one, while at the same time, in the back of your head, thinking, "I don't want him/her dead, but at least the pain will stop."  And you make phone calls, and go to doctor's appointments, and you try to make sure that people know that your loved one doesn't want the drugs, he/she wants the pain to STOP.  To go far enough away that life can be lived again.  Stupid things like going to the park.  Playing with the children.  Walking the dog.  Cooking dinner.  Even taking a shower.  All of these are things made more difficult without adequate pain management.

And I have to say that yes, it is absolutely a nightmare to have to live in pain and not have adequate care, and to have people who don't know you think of you as a junkie who just needs a fix of narcotics.  But you know, it's not easy for those of us who love people suffering from pain, either.  All we can do is watch and shed some tears.

One of the things going on right now is that pain clinics, as well as pharmacies which fill prescriptions for narcotic pain medications, are under close scrutiny from the federal government.  Because of this, these people, who I believe truly want to help the patients in their care, are afraid of doing the least little thing wrong.  And so, these patients often suffer, simply because the doctors know that if they lose their right to practice, so many more people will be left without care.  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!!  No one should have to be afraid of having their government prevent their care!!

All I'm asking is that if you know of someone suffering from pain, no matter what kind, who is not receiving adequate care, who has a doctor refuse to see them, who has a pharmacy refuse to fill their prescription--STAND UP WITH THEM.  Add your voice to theirs, so that it can be heard.  Write letters.  Make phone calls.  Something.  Anything.  Because sometimes it's too hard to go on fighting if you're alone.

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