End the Witch Hunt for Pain Doctors!!

Posted: January 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted on here, but I’ve finally hit a subject that has me SO frustrated that I must speak out.  The subject is “Opioid Addiction” and my reaction is to be absolutely livid about the reaction from the general public about the topic.

First of all, some background is required before I continue.  In November of 2000, I injured my back in a lifting accident.  Yes…I lifted something incorrectly and herniated my L5-S1 disc, which is the big one at the base of your back that connects to your tailbone right above your buttocks.  At the time, they prescribed pain medications to me that made the pain bearable and there were no problems with addiction or even dependence at that time because I took the pills as prescribed and the surgery, a lumbar laminectomy, took care of the pain.  I was a happy, drug free boy for the next five years.

In 2006, I did it again lifting a Television set at work.  Again it was at the L5-S1 level and the pain was excruciating.  While this time I had lifted the item correctly, it seems that there was some disc desiccation which naturally had made it weaker than it should have been.  This time it took FOUR months for me to have the necessary surgery.  Again I found myself on pain medications and took them as prescribed.  This time, however, the back surgery didn’t have the same effect.  After my healing period, I was in worse pain that ever before.  Come to find out that there was a buildup of scar tissue that the doctor had to work very hard to release the nerve from and that resulted in some nerve damage.  Unfortunately for me, it was a long term nerve damage.  I had physical therapy after the surgery, which helped with mobility, but not with the ongoing pain, which gradually became worse and worse.  No doctor would prescribe pain medications for me, and I slipped into a rather deep depression brought on by the pain where all I could do was sit in a chair and rock back and forth, praying for either death or relief, whichever should happen to arrive first.

My good friend Teresa referred me to a pain specialist at a local hospital.  The Doctor, Daniel Baldi, was the first person to even consider that I might be actually experiencing real pain and was the first to help me on my road to a full recovery.  The man listened to every single word I said.  If a pain medication didn’t work, he was always ready to try something different.  He eventually found a series of medications that made me darned near pain free and I was able to live life again.  I credit this man with saving my life.  Since that time he has been maligned, sued, charged with ten counts of manslaughter. and fought AND WON a very mean set of criminal charges.  I admire him for his tenacity, but regret to inform folks that he gave up on practicing pain medicine because of the horrible risks involved.  It is a terrible blow to those of us who consider him a major hero to the cause.

My point to that last paragraph there is that this man should never have been charged in the first place.  His job was to try to offer relief to people suffering from pain, which he did.  He cannot monitor people who decide they are going to take a couple of pills and then have a cocktail or two to “spice it up a bit”.  Pharmacies are supposed to be tracking where pain drugs are being issued by multiple doctors to the same patient, so I have no idea what happened there, but one should NOT blame a prescribing physician if a patient is out there “doctor shopping” in order to supply a growing addiction.  My point here is this:  Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.  Do not take that extra pill if you think you need it, but wait until it’s safe to do so based on how the medication is prescribed.  Finally, when a pain medication tells you that it’s extended release and drinking alcohol could potentially unleash a fatal dose of narcotic into your bloodstream and kill you, you might want to take that information under advisement and NOT drink alcohol while you are on that medication.  If you don’t follow these simple rules and wind up dead as a result, it is NOT the prescribing physicians fault when you don’t wake up on the morning after.

And NOW we find ourselves in the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic.  Pain Doctors and Clinics are under unbearable scrutiny right now.  People like myself, who have a decade of history using pain medications and opioids are having a TERRIBLE time finding doctors to continue with our medication management because, well…basically, the thicker your file is, the higher your risk for death is.  If you have a monster file then you MUST be an addict!  That’s not the case.  There is a huge difference between being an addict and being dependent on pain medications.  An addict wants more and will go to any length to get more to keep the high going.  In other words, if you are taking Hydrocodone and taking more than the prescribed dosage daily and wind up having to call for refills much earlier than you should have to, you are likely an addict and not just dependent.  One who is dependent doesn’t do that, but rather takes his/her medication as prescribed but whose body has become accustomed to the drug in their system and very well might have withdrawal if the drug is abruptly removed.  I have experienced this withdrawal with Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and Fentanyl myself.  It’s rough, oh yes, but it can be done with willpower and without a need to go hunting for the drug on the streets in order to curb the cravings.  Someone who is dependent will make their medication last the length prescribed and will NOT go above the prescribed dosage without first contacting their pain doctor in advance.

I don’t have all the answers to the epidemic situation that our country currently finds itself in, but I can tell you that denying patient’s access to drugs that will help manage their pain is NOT the way to go about dealing with this epidemic.  Pain is real.  Pain is a medical condition and it deserves to be treated.  The hunting down and blaming of real doctors whose only goal is to help people deal with their pain problems is NOT the solution.  Making regular doctors fear giving out 12-15 pills in an Emergency Room situation due to fear of potential addiction is not the answer either.  We just need to stop it with this witch hunt.  Yes, I’m sorry for those who have lost their lives to THEIR addiction, but for the love of GOD, stop trying to prevent me from getting the help that I desperately need to function as a human being in the process.

  1. Rose Possien says:

    Don’t give up Michael, it’s your health and you can get back in control if you continue to seek out the doctor who is sticking to the oath they took to begin with. In the grand scheme of the Opioid Epidemic they have discovered the guilty party is the pharmaceutical more than the prescribing doctor or pharmacy not keeping county. To interview doctors is NOT doctor shopping, it’s caring for yourself.

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