When it comes to pain management I know firsthand the pain part – it’s the managing it I’ve had difficulty with the last 15 years or so. As a kid and a teenager I was always active, dancing school, dance competitions, softball, and cheerleading kept me in shape, yet as I was a clumsy ballerina, often hurt. I would always bounce back (usually jumping back in before the doctors thought I should with torn ligaments and fractured ankles) and the pain would eventually go away.
Until September of 1994 when I was in a car accident that left me with 6 broken vertebrae and two herniated disks in my neck and stuck in bed for six months with a cast and a brace that wouldn’t allow me to sit up for more than 30 minutes a day. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving, as I can now predict rain or snowfall up to 48 hours before with the intense aches in my back letting me know – moisture! - cold! It’s coming!
Personally, I’m not a pill type of person. I’m not going to act all holier than thou however, when the injuries first happened and when I re-trigger one of them I will gladly take the painkillers the doctors prescribed on a short-term basis, as being in pain and the resulting lack of sleep for days on end will one day cause my untimely death by a friend, co-worker or family member as I will be just that pleasant. On a daily basis however, my version of managing my pain is over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain killers, alternating between Advil and Aleve and coating my back in ActivOn. I also go to a pain management doctor to get lidocaine injections directly into the muscles which will last about 3-6 months. I have tried the cortisone injections and for me they did absolutely nothing.
When going into the pain management doctor’s office (having to take a day off work because I have yet to find one that has normal hours – one day a week from 10-2 is NOT accommodating at all - all I see is patients that although started coming there for pain, are now seeming to come to him as a drug dealer for their monthly fix. I hear them discussing their “meds” and what other doctors they go to and who gives the best prescriptions with the least amount of questions (and no don’t email me because I didn’t pay attention and will not tell you). I’m sure that yes they are in pain, but the increased dosing of their medications has led them to now be unable to work or function unless filled with narcotics. Its sad how something as simple as a car accident or a fall has robbed them of a fulfilling life because of what was supposed to help them turns around, and hurts them. Whenever I went to a pain management doctor (I have had to switch because I DIDN’T want pills which would require me to visit once a month and therefore more co-pays and more profit) they would always look at my x-rays and MRIs and insist I should be home on disability and not commuting to work as I am causing further damage to my body. That’s when I realized why their hours are so inconvenient to those that work full time – if you are managing pain you are most likely not functioning to work. When I discourage the prescription for a narcotic and ask for the injections (which only is like 3 visits a year and I’ve been getting by on 2 and so less co-pay to the doctor) they put the full court press on me. It amazes me how there are so many people are addicted to these pills and doctors are still prescribing them easily and on a long-term basis. Not only the patients getting hooked but their kids as well from sneaking into mom/dad’s medicine cabinet.
I think going to the doctor and seeing these chronic pain patients-turned-addicts cements my belief to stick to the less effective methods I have been doing. I may still have pain but I am still living life!