You shouldn't be ashamed of your pain. You have the right to have your pain treated. ~Naomi Judd
In the fall of 2013, the media started bringing attention to how the DEA was going to make hydrocodone a Schedule II drug (which finally happened in October 2014) in order to cut down on prescription drug abuse. Since hydrocodone is one of the few painkillers that works well for me and that I don’t react to, I needed to find a pain specialist who had a triplicate prescription pad since none of my other practitioners have one. I didn’t want to wait until the change actually happened because I knew pain specialists would be having an influx of new patients which would make it difficult to get in for a new patient appointment.
I solicited recommendations from those on my healthcare team, and I selected the one doctor most frequently named. I then had to be accepted by him as his client: He has a 16 page application. In part, this serves to scare off drug-seekers without true health problems who just want an easy fix. For me, filling out that application caused a much bigger reaction than I realized was going to happen. As I filled it out, I became very depressed. I already knew that I lived with chronic pain, even with drugs and additional natural healing support to take the edge off of the pain. However, the application made it very clear to me how much pain was limiting my life. Suddenly, I realized that it wasn’t just because of the need to have access to hydrocodone that I needed a pain specialist. It was because I was living with chronic pain. I have a pain problem.
When I initially saw that first pain specialist, he asked me what brought me to his office. I told him that I had late disseminated Lyme disease. His response was, “Well, that’s why you have pain.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had been all worked up that I was going to have to convince this doctor of the reality of my pain, and he was immediately offering me more drugs than I was willing to accept due to his familiarity with the difficulty of my condition.
After almost a year with this doctor, it became very obvious to me that he was not the right doctor for me. The medication he had me on was causing life-threatening side effects yet he didn’t seem to care. However, I was concerned about switching doctors. If a patient sees too many pain specialists without settling on one, they are quickly labeled as a drug seeker and get a reputation in the medical community. It is very hard to find a good practitioner even without all the complicated issues my case provides. I had one pain specialist’s office refuse to accept my case due to my chemical sensitivities. Mercifully, the next doctor I tried was willing to take me on: He views me as a challenge, and he likes challenges.
It is very difficult in some cases such as mine to find appropriate and adequate medication for pain. The overall trend is that patients in severe pain are not properly medicated and the medical community at large underestimates their pain. Last February, I read an article in the local newspaper that made me blow steam out of my ears. Speaking of the about-to-be-released Zohydro LR, a long acting form of hydrocodone, the article stated, “… the Fed Up! Coalition wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg saying, ‘In the midst of a severe drug epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing the country needs is a new, dangerous, high-dose opioid.’” This quote could not be more wrong. There are actually a dearth of good drug options for those who suffer from chronic pain. This new form of an already proven relatively safe drug was a great advance, but it really wasn’t that much of a change from what was out there. It’s not really a new drug but a different form of an already (overly) popular drug. It's also not more powerful than the slow acting form of hydrocodone: If anything, in my non-medical opinion, it's probably less likely to cause addiction because Zohydro LR doesn't provide a "high" because of it's extended release mechanism which provides slow but steady pain relief without a rapid onset. However, the prejudice of this advocacy group and its protests only hamper the needs of those with true health issues who are lacking in good options for pain relief.
I regret that I went so many years without seeing a pain specialist based on my misguided belief that I didn’t need one. I also didn’t want the stigma of seeing a pain specialist because I move in circles where many frown upon Western drugs. However, pain specialists really do have far better knowledge of how to manage pain than a general practitioner or even a Lyme doctor. Even though two years later we’re still struggling to get my pain under control, we've still made some improvements in my quality of life. I really wish I had taken this step sooner.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance