Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Open letter to doctors and the D.E.A.
Warning: If you are easily upset, worrisome, or offended, do not read this.
Dear Doctors in the U.S.A. and the Drug Enforcement Agency,
Please explain something to me. Why do you deny pain medication to people in pain? Yes, I know you are afraid we may become addicted. Let me ask you a question: SO WHAT?
Next week, I'm seeing a new doctor. I was told that their office doesn't prescribe pain medication. Think about that for a moment. Isn't that crazy? Well, it's not, because the DEA has made it very difficult for doctors to prescribe pain medication. My old doctor told me that this was a big problem. They have to register with the DEA. They have to report patients that they think may be misusing or selling their medication to others. Doctors did not set out in life to become cops. My old doctor hated being in this position. And most doctors feel the same, so that some have decided to opt out of prescribing pain medication entirely.
Honestly, until today, I thought the case for not prescribing because of addiction, at least, was a good one. I've changed my mind. Doctors tell patients not to worry about taking loads of medications for life. Pills for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., ad infinitum. Well, if it's for life, how come that's not an addiction? Almost everything can be controlled to some extent through lifestyle changes, but no, only pain seems to be singled out for the big lecture. Listen, I used to do everything one is supposed to to manage pain. I meditate. I get enough rest. I used to do yoga and excercise. Why did I stop? Too much pain. I don't like not doing yoga and exercising. Did I choose that? No. So, you who judge, I'm sorry, but fuck you.
And what if it is an addiction? Is it wrong to want something to relieve pain? Let me tell you this: there's a doctor around these parts who does colonoscopies and he undermedicates his patients. I had a colonoscopy from this guy and I was screaming for mercy. You would, too. I met a few other people who'd had the same experience. What did the doctor say about this? "Well, if you have a high tolerance for pain medication, you'll have to withstand some pain."
Ah, now we're being punished! Like it isn't bad enough living with chronic pain. This is sadistic, truly.
Every day I have to think, "Can I tolerate this?" Okay, I have times when the pain is background noise. That's most of the time, and I can deal with it. But it isn't now, and if I want some relief, here's what I have to do: I have to go to an emergency room and make a fuss. I can't just state how I feel. I have to prove I'm not just a drug addict. The hospitals and doctors call people who do this chronically, "drug seekers." I'm wondering just how many of these people just might be people in pain. Not mental pain, but physical pain. We are not getting treated properly. Period. I read the boards on fibromyalgia and arthritis sites. Noone is being treated properly. I won't say it again, I promise.
Please, DEA people, why do you make such a problem for us? Don't you have better things to do, like keeping drug dealers from shooting people or something?
I'm spending my day trying to keep calm. Laying on heating pads, distracting myself. I can't concentrate much. I can't even knit, something I love doing. Writing seems possible, for some reason. Maybe that's 'cause there's already a dialogue in my mind. I dunno. I'm feeling kind of stupid today. Pain does that.
I'm really quite angry. I've been brainwashed, y'know. I used to take painkillers on a regular schedule and I stopped because I thought "I am a drug addict." Then I tried to get some help to deal with going off of them and coping with chronic pain, but I was laughed at! Really, my old doctor and another doctor thought it was a regular laugh riot that I thought I was a drug addict. I was told, "Do you realize just how much of that stuff other people take?!" So, I didn't get any help. I wound up faking that i took too much to get some help, but that wound up as a disaster, 'cause they put me on Seboxyn and it made me feel horrible. I wasn't a drug addict after all, 'cause if I was the Seboxyn would have worked. It didn't.
So, I screwed myself royally. Now I'm on the drug seekers list. I am pissed off. No, I'm enraged.
I'll admit I tried some marijuana the other day. Y'know, all these people in pain use pot to help them out, so I figured I'd try it. It sure didn't work for me. I suspected as much, but I had to try. It made it worse, far worse. Everything that's background noise came screaming to the fore. What kind of pot do you folks who smoke medical marijuana smoke??!! I'm not sure I believe you.
Why the hell are drugs illegal anyway? Could someone please explain this one to me? Isn't it a social problem? Didn't prohibition prove that prohibiting substances only turns people into criminals and increase crime? You think people would be shooting each other in the streets if it weren't for illegal drugs? It's totally ridiculous.
It's about morals. I don't recall any passage in the bible that said "thou shall not take an opiate but thou can take a tylenol, which is far worse for your health and causes liver damage."
And lastly, people show up at doctors like Kevorkian's doors because they can't stand the pain. So, it's better to kill yourself than get some pain relief?
This society is insane. I'm sorry. I'm angry. I'm really, really angry.
Image note: American Opium Smokers-Interior of a New York Opium Den," drawn by J. W. Alexander from Harper's Weekly, 1881. Is this what people are afraid of? For your edification, most people who are in pain will have more energy to do things, not less, if properly medicated. I'd sure get up from my heating pads if I was. I recall two summers ago I could do gardening. Last summer, I could not. So, you tell me which is more "moral."
I know I'm a practicing Buddhist, but sometimes one has to speak truth to power, and that might entail some cursing. Cursing, I believe, is not breaking any vows. If I'm wrong, tell me.