About a year ago I went to the Emergency Room of a VA Hospital in Florida where I live. I was having severe pain in my sciatica. Despite the fact that I was taking Morphine or MS Contin and Oxycodone I was still in pain. The doctor did an MRI on me and they basically said there was nothing that could be done. They suggested I go to the Pain Clinic to ask about hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and other means of therapy. This sounded good so I said I would talk to my doctor. They also said I should be on some sort of muscle relaxer. I then went to my doctor and told her everything and she asked why I need a muscle relaxer (a non-narcotic) and made it sound like I was a drug addict. She agreed to send me to the Pain Clinic. What I didn’t know was that she had suggested I be taken off all narcotics to get the muscle relaxer.
When I first went into the Pain Clinic I was greeted by a doctor with broken english and a very young doctor who was supposed to be a pharmacist. I was confused by this because I thought I was there to talk about therapy, not my medicine.
Right away the focus was all on my pain medication. He said they were going to ween me off all narcotics because several veterans have overdosed. I said that I take them the way I am supposed to and that I have a family to live for. He then said that it was because of my sleep apnea. He maintained that I could fall asleep and not wake up. I said that I thought that was what my CPAP machine was for.
Next he told me that I should stop taking Prednisone because that’s most likely the root of all my problems. This was the funniest excuse to me. I was prescribed Prednisone due to a condition called PMR that causes severe inflammations and pain in my left shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I naturally thought this guy was a quack so I did some research on him. He is not even a pain specialist, but an internal medicine doctor.
When I stated my objections over several more visits this doctor got real defensive about his service. He is an officer in the National Guard and has been to Iraq twice. I find that very commendable, but irrelevant. I told him it didn’t matter, but he continued to sing his praises and try to impress me with his war record. I could care less. He tried to say it was nothing personal, but it’s very personal. He has ruined my life by taking away the one thing that helps me hold on and get through the day. I’d say that it’s personal when it affects your sleep, your relationships, and your attitude.
I then saw this doctor’s supervisor and he was a big jerk. He examined me and was very nice at first and then proceeded to call me fat, lazy, and uneducated. I was really insulted and wanted to smack him. I almost did. I had to get up and leave. I tried to go to a patient advocated, but anyone who has tried this route knows that they don’t get involved in this kind of thing and always take the side of the doctor. I also tried going to my Senator and that was no help. He wrote to the Administrator who then sided with the doc.
So, basically now I have been without pain meds for 8 months. In some ways I do like the fact that my head is more clear, but there are moments where I want to just scream and pull my hair out. Nights are the worst for me. I smoke cigarettes and wonder why I can’t be normal like everyone else. My wife is sound asleep, there’s absolutely nothing to do and nothing seems to help. I really have tried everything and there’s nothing that works. As time goes on unfortunately you learn to deal with it because you have to, but I really don’t think I should. I did my time and I didn’t ask for this. I think it should be up to the VA to fix this problem. I warn all of you to stay away from these Pain Clinics unless you have Cancer they will not help you. I am now red flagged and can’t get anything without an override. I am miserable most of the time and do things like write here to keep my mind off of the pain. Also, if you live in Florida I would especially keep an eye on your pain meds because they are really cracking down here on the label of the “drug capital of the world.” or the pill-mill state. Now it’s the “no pills at all” state. My wife is disabled also and she can’t get anything for pain either from a regular doctor. They tell her “tough luck.”