PAIN AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

I was sad to hear that Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose. I was even sadder yet to hear that he had been performing with a broken hip. That is some pretty intense pain. Having recently suffered another fracture of my right collar bone that happened during a surgery which was to take out the hardware from a previous fracture, I empathize with anyone who has a fracture.

I had asked for Tylenol with Codeine initially after the surgery because the surgeon said I should be able to go back to work. I know that this medication has no sedative effect on me so I could work while taking it. Fifteen days later, I reached back in my car and my right collar bone that had caused slight pain before became excruciating. I tried Advil, Aleeve and Methocarbamol in addition to the Tylenol with Codeine. Twelve days after the severe pain started and I was basically disabled, my surgeon told me I had another fracture.

Thank God, I had had some Norco on hand from my previous vocal cord surgery. That was the only medication which numbed the pain. From this experience I have a few opinions on pain.

1. If a person tells you they have a pain level of ten and they are crying with movement you need to listen to them very carefully and give them the pain medication which will be effective. You do not need to tell them the x-ray is perfect and act like they have lost their mind.

2. To criminalize patients who are in pain is absurd and should be illegal. My last PCP accused me of being a drug seeker. I had asked her for something which could relieve the pain in my feet. She saw that I had been given Norco syrup for my vocal cord surgery, which I had only taken a few doses of, Ultram which was ineffective and I was no longer taking, and Tylenol with Codeine which I had ran out of. Needless to say, I will no longer go back to her. Yet to be treated like this when I had a valid issue with pain and she had not even asked whether or not I had used any of the previous pain medications, angered me.

3. To criminalize doctors which prescribe narcotics is just as crazy. Doctors are trained to treat pain. They may need to have more training on how to treat different maladies with pain medications which are actually effective. Case in point; the only medication which relieved the pain of my fracture was Norco and I asked the doctor to decrease the dosage when he finally identified the fracture. The norco syrup was 7.5/325 mg. I asked for 5/325mg. Norco at this low dosage was more effective than any of the other meds combined.

4. Allow celebrities to say, “NO” to engagements if they have pain. Tom Petty was performing with a broken hip which had to be horribly painful. He should have stopped the tour, had surgery and he could have weaned off of all the pain killers. I don’t know why he was still performing but whoever was encouraging him to do so, is partly responsible for his death.

5. Teach medical students to try and fix the cause of the pain instead of just treating the symptom of pain. In teaching my patients about medications I have come to the realization that pain meds work on how the brain receives pain signals. They do nothing to decrease the pain itself. In my case 1-2 months of allowing my right arm to rest and assume immobility should solve my pain. I will no longer need pain meds at that time and I will stop taking them.

The last thing we need is for the government to take control of people’s pain because for the most part they are just a pain in the neck anyhow.

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