If you live with any sort of chronic pain, be it inflamed joints or migraines from hell or over sensitive nerves, you live with plenty of stigmas. Constantly, people are judging you without knowing your full story. I’m sure this is common with society as a whole, not just us spoonies, but most people don’t deal with stigmas that can hinder their medical care.
A large majority of people living with chronic pain not only have to face skepticism from their family and friends, (we look fine, after all) but also from our doctors. As we sit in their offices, holding back the tears of pain, begging for relief, complaining of an ailment they can’t see, can’t measure with their tools and machines; we’re being scrutinized.
How badly does she really hurt? How can she possibly be going through her pain medication this quickly? If she hurt as bad as she says, she wouldn’t be able to sit up straight, she’s exaggerating. She must be an addict, a pill-seeker.
I have nothing against addicts, this isn’t where I pass judgement. I’ve known, and do know, some wonderful people in recovery. We all have our crosses to bear, this simply isn’t mine. And I’m thankful it’s not. The addicts I know have incredible strength and are personal heroes. I know I couldn’t fight their battles.
Yes, I have a disease, Doctor. Addiction isn’t it, though.
I’ve been fortunate enough to find a primary care doctor as well as a rheumatologist who don’t question me. They listen as I describe my pain levels and work with me to find a pain management plan. Others are not so lucky. As much as this saddens me, it also makes me so very thankful for my medical team.
Yes, I’m on narcotics for my pain. No, I’m not addicted.
When I’m having a good run, I can go weeks without needing a pain pill. When I’m in the midst of a flare, I take them on a 12 hour rotation, my body a better teller of time than the clocks on the wall. My doctors and nurses know me well enough to write my prescription and allow my boyfriend to pick it up for me. My pharmacy knows my hands aren’t what they should be, they make sure all my medications come in easy open bottles. They work with me to make sure my medications are available as soon as possible and know that my boyfriend is authorized to pick them up for me.
This all might seem like it should be common practice. Sadly, it’s not. With stricter regulations on narcotics and in a skeptic world, I am a minority. I have medical staff who work with me, not against me.
To show thanks, I paid it forward. My boyfriend and I have a mutual friend who is struggling to find a doctor who will work with her. Her long time physician retired a few years ago and his successor has our friend lumped in with “all the others.” She refuses to provide pain relief on the level our friend needs it on the grounds that it’ll cause addiction. Our friend is a productive member of society, a small business owner who is on her feet for hours a day. She pushes past the pain to provide a service to others, and at a great cost to her health.
So we gave her our doctor’s information and said to use us as reference. We all deserve doctors who will listen to our concerns and work with us to find a viable solution. Who knows? He may not be a match for her, but at least the option is there.
For self-care yesterday, I spoiled myself with coffee while I worked on writing. I also made sticky buns to share with my better half after work. It might not seem very indulgent to you, but it was just what I needed.
Sometimes you just need something sweet to erase a long day.