Isn't it amazing how a doctor can look across a table at you and tell you how much
you are or are not feeling
as he or she dismisses you with a comment like
"Just learn to live with it." The doctor sees a patient for five minutes and in that time they have all the answers. 'You! Well, you are
just the patient what the hell do you know'.
I am one of those Chronic Pain patients and regardless of what edict is issued by the medical god before me, I know pain when I feel it and when I am at the point of considering suicide, I know that the pain I feel is desperate and certainly very real. The bottom line is that there is only one true expert on living with Chronic Pain and that is "the person who is forced to live with it, day in and day out."
The fact is that as a person with severe Chronic Pain, I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore, at least not in submissive silence. Those powerful words were spoken by an actor named Peter Finch in a profound movie called "Network." While the movie nor the comment was created to serve the needs of a person in Chronic Pain, those words "I am mad as hell" will likely apply to the lives of most Chronic Pain sufferers.
I believe that the time has come for people who experience Chronic Pain to become mad as hell. It is not right that any person in severe pain that never goes away should also have to endure the complete lack of respect, understanding and compassion so callously and frequently demonstrated by members of the medical community when dealing with a Chronic Pain patient. It is unacceptable in a time when more than adequate relief is available in a variety of narcotic medications, that any legitimate Chronic Pain case should be forced to live in a daily world of hellish pain simply because a social atmosphere of abuse has made the term "Narcotic" a very dirty and scary word.
Imagine waking up every morning to yet another day that you know will be filled with pain severe enough to drive you to tears of frustration, hopelessness and even to consider suicide as the only way out. I am talking about a pain that has robbed you of the ability to earn a living, to enjoy a normal social life, to manage even the most simple of tasks, a pain that all but destroys your quality of life. When it comes to that kind of pain for anyone, but the person who feels it, for any doctor to suggest they know what it is like is at best an insult and at its medical worst a flagrant demonstration of incompetence and malpractice. I think the time has come for some of us Chronic Pain patients to sue for pain and suffering. Perhaps then, some of these medical know it all's will wake up and take notice. At the same time, some of the responsible government regulators may have good cause to get off their collective inactive asses and make some laws in favor of legitimate treatment for people in legitimate Chronic Pain cases.
The Quality of Life Is Not A Regulated Freedom, It Is A Basic Human Right!
Chronic Pain may never be eliminated but it can be managed with adequate medication.
There are, in our country, thousands of people including myself who are faced with exactly that situation. Chronic Pain can be the result of an accident, disease, physical deterioration, age or many other factors. It never goes away and while some days may be passable, other days can be so bad that the person who has it is reduced to tears. Chronic Pain is a life sentence which, given current medical attitudes on the use of narcotic medications leaves little or no hope at all of relief. For those who are afflicted with Chronic Pain, it is the most detrimental, debilitating, frustrating, limiting and difficult condition that anyone, male or female regardless of age can experience. Even narcotic medications will not completely eliminate all the pain but they can and do lower the intensity enough for the person to at least function in an acceptable manner. In some cases, the patient might even be able to remain in an employable situation.
Unfortunately, most doctors are afraid to prescribe strong, narcotic medications and as a totally ineffective alternative will make available medications that can provide only minimal if any relief in severe cases of pain. Patients are then told, "Learn to Live With It" and the doctor goes on to his next patient and his next fee while having taken your fee and done nothing for it sends you packing back to your untreated world of Chronic Pain.
How Much Pain IS Enough To Warrant Narcotic Relief?
Sadly, doctors actions when faced with a Chronic Pain Patient are not motivated by compassion but by fear of legislative reprisal. They have the attitude that a Chronic Pain patient is simply not worth the bother. Many doctors will not even accept a Chronic Pain case. For the person caught in the malicious, quality of life stealing jaws of Chronic Pain, the frequent need to have to beg for relief is just an added insult. The resulting frustration can and has plunged the people who have it into a state of depression, so deep, that suicide becomes a very real and possibly the only option. Some major television journal programs have aired interviews with people in Chronic Pain who having lost access to medication when his or her doctor is put out of business by regulators, express their contempt for the system then kill themselves usually within a few days of the interview. Under the existing laws of the land and rules of medical and pharmaceutical regulatory bodies, any doctor who does have compassion and will prescribe for Chronic Pain, may face severe personal consequences. They could lose the right to prescribe for all their patients, lose hospital privileges, have their license to practice revoked and possibly even face prosecution. The result is that a patient who suffers from such pain may simply be hung out to dry. In spite of desperate need the pain patient will be refused treatment in spite of the fact that a medication that can provide desperately needed relief is readily available. That, to me represents callous malpractice for which any doctor should be legally responsible.
Effective medications like Morphine, Percodan or Percocet, Oxycontin, Demerol and others will not even be considered in spite of the fact that they can do the job.
To Use or Not To Use Narcotics, That Is The Question.
It is no surprise that given existing laws, rules and attitudes, no doctor fearing for his own professional safety would want to trade his own well being for a patient, nor should he or she be required to. That is why, those of us, driven to the brink of suicide by Chronic Pain must speak out loud and clear, to demand from government rule makers the right to regain at least some quality of life. If it takes special laws to force the medical community to make that possible then those laws should be made. It is vital that a realistic, credible and responsible atmosphere for the proper treatment of Chronic Pain be established now, not later. Certainly there are problems associated with the abuse of narcotics, but you do not shut down a hospital and refuse to treat patients because some jack ass in an alley abuses narcotics. It is the job of police to catch and prosecute the offenders. Above all, it must be recognized that there is a very great difference between the person who abuses narcotics and a person in Chronic Pain who can not live without narcotic medications not because they want a high but because they want and deserve, a life.
Narcotics Plus User Does Not Always Add Up To Evil.
There are basically three major problems with narcotics, all of which have a direct impact on the ability of the Chronic Pain Patient to obtain narcotic, prescription medication. First of all, we live in a time where the mere mention of the word "Narcotics" immediately conjures visual images in the mind of all kinds of social degenerates, addicts, criminals, crime and a host of other very negative images. It is also very well known that the abuse of both prescription and street narcotics drain billions of dollars from the public purse every year. So great are the negative and sensational aspects of "Narcotic" related problems that the positive, constructive and beneficial side of the word almost never sees the light of day in a media story. That has to change.
It is not at all difficult to understand a doctor's reluctance to be a part of this negative picture in any way at all. The medical mission is after all to work towards a cure not simply to provide an endless supply of medications to anyone to maintain an acceptable level of physical comfort. If however a steady and reliable supply of Narcotic medications is the only thing that will work then the Chronic Pain patient has a basic right to that treatment. In most patients, there "IS" a possible cure. In the case of the Chronic Pain patient however, relief is the only hope and relative comfort, the only thing that the doctor can provide. To deny that relief to a patient who has nothing more than increasing pain to look forward to is to condemn that patient to many unbearable tomorrows. To deny that relief is nothing less than criminal indifference.
Having Chronic Pain, Although Frequently Treated As Such, Is Not A Crime.
If we can accept that truth then to provide desperately needed treatment with narcotic pain medications should also not be a crime.
Condemned people are usually guilty of some sort of crime. What crime has the person with Chronic Pain committed? When chronic Pain becomes a part of anyone's life, you can be certain that it was not by enthusiastic invitation. The person who has that kind of physical pain is also preyed upon by the medical and pharmaceutical communities with drug prices designed to cripple a patient's financial ability to get the medications that will give them the relief they need. That too is not right.
The second major problem or obstacle for the doctor who is asked to provide narcotic medications is partly one of image perception by his or her colleagues, by regulators, by police and by the general public. Any doctor who becomes known as "an easy mark for narcotics" will draw more new patients than flies on a jar of honey. He or she may also draw unwanted attention from other sources as well. It is clear that any doctor has a right to protect his own ability to work and make a living. It is only common sense that a Chronic Pain patient be required to accept any tests designed to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a legitimate case. No legitimate CP patient would argue that. Any CP patient wants nothing more than to be accepted as a legitimate and credible case. The third and for many, the biggest case against the use of opiods in the treatment of non malignant pain for both doctor and patient, is the problem of dependence and that should be a major concern. If there is any indication that a patient does not have a legitimate case of on going Chronic Pain and is refused a request for narcotic medications, the doctor in refusing will have done that patient a very big favor. Addiction for the sake of a high is a disaster waiting to happen.
The Use of a Narcotic For A High Alone is A Key To "The Heartbreak Hotel".
There is a belief in some medical circles that prolonged use of narcotics in the case of Chronic Pain will not lead to an addiction. I can tell you from experience that this is not true. What is true is that a person in Chronic Pain does not receive a high of any kind. The euphoric sensation sought by the abuser is devoured in the Chronic Pain patient by the pain itself. What does happen is that the person using the narcotics in a legitimate case will experience a lowering of the pain intensity. The pain is not eliminated completely but is made less debilitating. What will most certainly develop, will be a physical dependence, meaning that any prolonged period without medication will result in a most unpleasant set of withdrawl symptoms. Hopefully, an open and honest relationship between doctor and patient will ensure that the patient always has a good supply on hand so that this will not happen. If after all the necessary tests and procedures have been done and every result confirms a legitimate Chronic Pain problem, your doctor still refuses to recognize and treat your need for narcotic medical relief then the time has come for you to get mad as hell and do something about it. Contact your government reps, local media, local or regional pain support groups and so on. Get your story out and demand proper treatment.
If any doctor refused to treat a person who had been in an automobile accident, he or she could be sued. Chronic Pain may not be as visible as an arm partly torn off in an accident but the pain is every bit as real. The person who suffers from intense pain every minute of the day when simply trying to stand up from a chair does not deserve to suffer the additional insult of humiliation, suspicion, lack of respect and understanding. It is equally as important that as a CP patient you not be discarded by your doctor as some kind of crank just looking for drugs. Your doctor and pharmacist, particularly your pharmacist is making very big money at your expense, they owe you proper and caring treatment and whatever medication will best provide relief for your problem must not be denied.
On the bright side, there are changing attitudes regarding the use of opiods in the treatment of Chronic or non malignant pain. Just remember that quality of life is a human right not some political gift. The time has come however to make it very much a political issue and bear this in mind. The tobacco industry lost billions to a class action lawsuit because their product caused pain and suffering. It will only take one serious law suit action against a doctor for taking your money and doing nothing to treat your pain to make the entire medical establishment sit up and take notice.
To those who would deny anyone suffering from Chronic Pain the dignity of relief for fear of abuse...I have two words. "BAN ALCOHOL". More lives have been victimized and destroyed by the use of alcohol than any other substance in the world. So government people, so doctors, so pharmacists...if you are so damn serious about your concern for the abuse of narcotics then "BAN ALCOHOL" I can buy all the alcohol I can carry and even get a truck to carry more. As long as I have the money I can buy all the alcohol. Alcohol too will help to mask the pain so why in hell am I treated like some Columbian Drug Lord when I ask for a narcotic pain medication to give me back some of my life because I choose not to drink.
I suffer from Chronic Pain. Even standing up can be excruciating and almost impossible. I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore and I will not and I repeat " WILL NOT" apologize for having pain or for needing narcotic medication. I would far prefer not to have pain and not have to take any medications at all. Most important I will not accept being treated like some kind of social undesirable because I happen to be afflicted with a life destroying problem, nor should I have to.
It is understandable that any doctor may feel uncomfortable with the prescribing of narcotic pain medications over long periods, indeed if not for life. When a case however has been proven through accepted tests and procedures, there should be no hesitation in providing adequate medication for any necessary period of time or in any amount to get the job done right. No human being should be abandoned to suffering where relief is available. If a person has nothing but pain to look forward to in life then addiction should not be a relative concern.