When Doctors Can't See Past Themselves
I just need to vent. Take that as your warning, I guess.
The venting is toward my body, but mostly toward doctors. More precisely, MY doctors. At Kaiser. Yeah, I'm calling Kaiser out. I'll get to that in a bit.
I am so, so exhausted of struggling through pain. I've had to just "deal with it" since moving back to Colorado last December. Most the time, I can deal with it; I've learned how to deal with it over time, and accepted it as a part of my daily life. I suppose anyone who struggles with chronic pain has to reach that point. It took me two years to accept it. Honestly, that first year I got it, I never thought I would accept it. So that's definitely something.
But, holy shit, does it interfere with my life sometimes. Holy shit, does it take all my spoons.
Times when, like this weekend (and past week, really), EVERYTHING hits all at once. Because autoimmune disorders do that. Everything is affected by them. Just to list this weekend's specific problems...
1. A migraine from the deep crevices of Satan's armpits (one of the worst and longest-lasting I've ever had, which gives me flu-like symptoms and has made it impossible to eat real food for almost an entire week).
2. My residual back pain (again, worse than its been since my surgery last summer, for reasons I can't define). Lower back pain so bad that it hurts to lie down. It hurts to take every step. Which means finding a comfortable position is entirely impossible.
3. Lastly, my fibromyalgia + autoimmune disorder pain....again (again), much worse than it usually is.
Individually, these things are bad enough. But put them all together, all at once and at a high magnitude, and I'm in pure Hell. I lose sleep. I can't eat. Last night, for example, I was awake for 5 hours straight in the middle of the night, with all these things raging at once, wishing someone would just put me out of my misery. Switching my heating pad and hot rice pack back and forth between my head, the back of my neck, my back, and my wrists and hands (and also wishing that I had a full-body heat source, since I couldn't affectively reduce pain on all areas at once). Moaning and groaning and cringing as my body twitched with every bout of pain. Everywhere.
In these times, sleep is impossible. And the lack of sleep, of course, only makes these symptoms worse, thus making it a seemingly endless cycle of misery.
I hate my body.
What makes certain weeks/days worse than others, I wish I knew. If I could determine what things made all this pain flare up, I would, possibly, be able to have a better control on it. But it's all one random, annoying mystery, as anyone who suffers from chronic pain can tell you.
The point of this rant? Why am I so irritated with my doctors? Because they don't care. They care more about their regulations. They will not prescribe pain meds. My regular family doctor says, by the rules, she isn't allowed to. My rheumatologist there says the same thing. So if my rheumatologist can't, then WHO CAN? What is the point of these doctors even existing? In Arizona, my regular family doctor could prescribe whatever he wanted. Whether it's because he understood, or wasn't bound by gigantic company regulations, I don't know. But he did care. At Kaiser, you're under one massive corporation's rules.
I have no way of monitoring my pain. They ask if I've thought of IBU Profin. And I want to scream, if it wouldn't add to the migraine so much. Any sufferer of chronic pain knows (I know I keep using that phrase) that IBU Profin does NOTHING.
In frustration, I asked my regular doc at Kaiser a few months ago what she recommended for pain then, if they couldn't give me anything. You know what she said? Exercise. Meditation. Rest. And of course, IBU Profin. It left me feeling like they view anyone with pain there as some sort of drug seeker. Everything is regulated. And it was one of many times I left their feeling utterly defeated.
Which lead me to brave my next question for her--one I was so scared to DEATH to ask, but one I had to ask in my mad desperation. I'll get to that in a second.
About a month before I asked her this question, after having already tried to get some form of pain management before that, I decided to try cannabis. I live in Colorado, after all; the stuff can be bought recreationally at a dispensary. So I tried it. I bought some edibles I would save for bad pain days, when nothing else worked.
And guess what? I've never had anything relieve my pain so well--migraine, fibro, back, and all. I was amazed. For the couple-few hours it was in my system, I FINALLY had relief.
But cannabis is expensive. And when you are living penny to penny, it adds up. I had heard of many other people, not just in Colorado, who have had their own doctors prescribe this as a form of pain relief. The results are impossible to ignore.
This brings me back to my brave question. I say brave because even though I'm in Colorado, and prescribing this for pain, nausea, and anxiety is common practice, I have major issues with worrying what others will think of me. I have worried my whole life, because of my own insecurities as well as other factors, that I have to pretend I don't hurt or feel sick. That I have to tough things out so that I don't look weak to others. And that if I don't "tough things out," people will think I'm either lying, trying to get attention, or being weak. Just asking my doctor for any form of pain meds made me feel awful enough. Especially because of how much I hate narcotics and how they make me feel. Part of me was even a bit relieved that they wouldn't give me any (they wouldn't even give so much as a simple Tramadol).
But the fact remains that there are just some days I can't make it through the pain. It effects my depression, anxiety, and everything else--again, like a pitiless cycle. Which affects my time with my children and those I love. It affects my daily work responsibilities--which I have to be on top of, mainly because I NEED these hours. I NEED an income, desperately.
When the docs at Kaiser told me they couldn't prescribe any form of narcotic or opioid, and then when I asked what else they COULD prescribe and they told me there was nothing else and I would just have to deal with it, THAT'S when I knew I had to admit to her that for the past month, I'd been using small doses of cannabis to monitor my pain. I had to ask her...
So I did that. I admitted it to her, told her it was the only thing that gave me any relief. And I asked her if there was any way she could PRESCRIBE me some, so I could actually afford it.
The fears I felt at having to ask her this were, of course, verified. Again, my pain was not validated. Her response? She shook her head and got panicky. She told me she would never prescribe cannabis to any of her patients...because she doesn't BELIEVE in its benefits.
She doesn't believe in its benefits.
Even though the results are a given. Even though it is much safer than any drug on the market, especially narcotics.
But she reiterated to me how harmful it was (she is a brand-new, young doctor, out of NY), and told me I should never use it again. Yet, she couldn't provide me with any solid facts or studies proving her claim.
Once again--more than before--I left feeling defeated and weak, with a stamp across my back saying DRUGGIE.
That's how I felt anyway. So for the past couple months, I have had to go through life with nothing but IBU Profin.
And a supply of cannabis on hand.
And every time I use it, I feel guilty and wretched.
I hate my doctors.
This is my frustration. I have to suffer through nights of flared up EVERYTHING. And I have no answers. No one takes me seriously.
I not only feel weak, but I feel alone.
I miss my old doctors in Arizona.
But at least I can be grateful for this state I live in, and how available cannabis is (though expensive) to those of us who have doctors too ignorant and insensitive to our issues.
End of rant.