He’s Got To Be An Addict

He’s Got To Be An Addict


It’s hard for some people, especially those who work in the medical field, to believe that someone on the younger side of life can suffer from chronic pain. Instead, we’re pariahs, forced to nervously tap dance in hospital rooms and ultimately exit with zero relief.

On top of the litany of issues I’ve written about in the past, I have chronic pain. My shoulders dislocate at the actual drop of a hat (or reach for a high shelf), and each time it’s like someone has slammed their entire weight right into my shoulder and it just collapses. This is a daily occurrence, often times going way more than once.

So, as one does when they have chronic pain, I go to the doctor. In my experience, the doctors seem to be all so scared of the FDA and DEA right now that writing scripts for actual, working pain meds is something they reserve for those older than 50, presuming those folks couldn’t possibly be drug seekers.

God forbid you learn about what’s going on with your body, too. Or basically anything about drugs at all. Even knowing the correct name for a pain killer is enough to set off alarm bells in their doctor brains that this is drug-seeking behavior, normal people don’t know aspirin from acetaminophen.

So, after years of being given the side-eye by doctors and nurses, that uncomfortable look of “Oh yeah, you’re totally a drug addict,” I’ve just started to keep my bloody mouth shut.

But, turns out, that’s even more dangerous.

I went to Washington Regional the other day seeking relief for my shoulder, which was in bad shape. Everything went fine, the doctors and nurses were all wonderful, and I was in and out fairly quickly. A nurse came in at a certain point to recite the usual list of medications that have either harmed me or that I have an allergy to.

“Still allergic/adverse to codeine, tramadol, and fentanyl?”

“Yes ma’am.”

Not 10 minutes later I’m leaving the hospital with a prescription for tramadol, one I didn’t even bother seeing because you trust the doctor that just checked all your medication allergies to not immediately turn around and give you the one that once made you have a 12-hour seizure.

Thankfully, the pharmacist paid more attention than the triage docs or myself, because she caught what it was when she was giving me the post-payment counseling. Yes, sadly, she waited until I’d already paid for my poison to make sure I knew it was poison.

So how do I advocate for myself at 29? I literally dress up like I’m going to church when I visit the hospital because my normal attire of jeans and nerdy t-shirts and an unshaven face cause snap judgments. And if I know about drugs, if I’m informed? That’s tantamount to wearing a neon sign saying “ I WANT NARCOTICS!!!” I’m informed because I had cancer, and you tend to learn your pain meds when you’re in that much pain.

So now I don’t know what to do with WRMS. This is a massive, massive mistake on their part, but I understand that the emergency room is such an insane place, it’s really easy for wires to get crossed.

But this crossing could have easily killed me had it not been for a pharmacist that was more attentive than the doctor or patient.

So what do I do? I dress to the nines and pray I get a doctor that will listen. I am honest, but not so honest that they know I actually know what I’m talking about. I walk a tightrope, and it never, ever works. It’s as unstable and broken as our healthcare system.

Categories: Commentary