As we round out Pain Awareness Month I wanted to share my thoughts on the global opioid crisis. I have been fortunate to have seen the good and not so good but nowhere near the worst side of the opioid crisis.
First and foremost DOCTORS are responsible for educating themselves on each medication they prescribe and the side effects. Every doctor needs to share this information with the PATIENT who is also responsible for reading the directions, following the directions, report any side effects, and to be honest with the doctor when discussing your pain levels.
The type of doctors who have created this crisis is the ones who recklessly overprescribed patients and did not have a responsible follow-up and withdrawal plan. I heard a story on television about a man who was in a car wreck who has prescribed over 20 pain pills a day. No-one is in that much pain, you can’t function on that level of medication and no responsible doctor would prescribe that amount.
Doctors are responsible for monitoring their patients, if a patient can’t make it till the end of the month before needing a refill, it’s time to have a face to face and reaccess the pain. I did this with my doctor for months before reaching the right dosage.
The not so good experience I had was making the mistake of thinking my general doctor could manage my pain effectively. I went along this way for several years until I maxed out the dosage on my medication and he didn’t know where to do from there. I eventually sought out a Pain Management doctor and had real success and real failure.
The great success lasted two years, he required me to see him every time a refill was needed. We would talk about how my pain was, any issues with the medication, any other treatment options he might have in mind, have a urine sample, and discuss my concerns. After that, he would call in my refill. I think this is the responsible management of a patient.
The great failure came when COVID hit the shores. The first two months I had Telehealth visits and my refills were called in no problems. The third month I call to get my prescription refilled and I’m told I have to come into the office. I stressed to the admin that I had a new immune disorder and to talk with the doctor to see if he would make an exception. She said no, I have to come in it’s the law. I know better and cussed at her. It’s not a DEA law that a patient must come in every three months for a urine test, it’s the doctor’s call. I offered to go to the local lab for a urine test and was told no. End of story. I only received two weeks’ worth of medication and throw away like wet trash.
I did file several complaints with the Medical Review Board but I don’t think he will suffer any consequences.
Doctors should be bound by their license to not dismiss a patient who is addicted to pain medication and expect them to find another doctor within two weeks, let alone during a pandemic. He had no withdrawal plan, a responsible doctor would have said I no longer want your business, you cussed at my employee and over the next 30-45 days you need to find another doctor and I will start a withdraw plan with you now.
Every DOCTOR and PATIENT has a responsibility when taking any type of medication, it doesn’t matter if it’s addictive or not. All medications including over the counter medications, including children’s medications have side effects. It’s the doctor who needs to share the most common and the “when to call or go to ER” symptoms. We also have to reach out by asking questions and seeking information on the internet if necessary in order to manage our medications.
I still have not scheduled an appointment with a new Pain Management doctor. I am lucky enough to have had enough pills to go thru some type of withdrawal and will wait until the virus numbers stop spiking in the state. My hands still shake and I still need the medication but I need the virus less. I’m blessed my pain has not spiked.