This is literally what it feels like (Photo credit: Deborah Leigh)
It’s 10:30 am and I have just wasted two hours of my life I’ll never get back in the emergency room. Had another migraine coming on. One of the ones that starts in my neck and creeps up the back of my skull until I can feel the blood pounding in my head and any movement that even slightly changes my BP (like sitting down to pee) sends throbbing waves of agony through my head. The last one that sent me to the hospital, roughly a month ago,was so bad my BP was 180/110 and I was in so much pain I felt like I was gonna stroke out. It’s probably the worst headache I’d ever had, and I might go so far as to say I’d rather go through labor again than have another headache like that.
Well, this headache had been building since yesterday morning, and I took the only things I had in my “arsenal” to fight it, Flexaril and a three Ultram I had left. But when I woke up this morning, I knew I was losing the battle with this headache. So this time I wanted to get to the ER before it got as bad as last time (or any of the other times I’ve been to the ER in the past two and a half years) and early enough in the AM that I wouldn’t be in the waiting room all day. I got back to a room fairly quickly, but then I had to sit there for forty minutes before the doc finally came in…
She did her “thing,” looking in my eyes, listening to my heart, asking her questions, and when she told me she’d get me something for the pain, I asked what she was giving me. I always ask because I have been to the ER so many times for headaches, I know what works and what is just a waste of my time. She told me that as of July 20th, they are no longer allowed to administer narcotic pain shots in the ER (unless it’s a trauma or something, of course.)
I was furious… and scared. Only someone who has ever had a migraine, or been in pain like I was last month, could understand why I say “scared.” The prospect of being in that much pain and having nowhere to go for relief is horrible to me. As I was waiting for my likely useless shot, my husband was reading a ditto sheet posted on the wall to me, regarding “controlled substances.” On the ditto were suggested means of alternatives to narcotics; meditation, relaxation techniques, music therapy! Are you freaking kidding me??? If the Flexeril and Ultram didn’t do the trick, I highly doubt a few tracks of relaxing pan flute music, or whatever the hell they use, will help my case. One of the nurses said (with no shortage of defensive attitude) that it was state law and there was nothing they could do about it, but maybe my “family doctor” could refer me to a neurologist. I’ve had migraines since I was 15. I’ve seen neurologists. They usually want to put you on Beta Blockers for prevention purposes. I’m already on them. Besides, exactly what good will a neuro appt do while I am in the middle of a migraine??? The doc actually suggested I “write my legislator.” Really? Cuz they’ll really care what I think, I’m sure. And my “family doctor” (nurse practitioner, really) is so tight with her RX pad you’d think you were asking her to sacrifice her first born. She once told me she didn’t like to prescribe narcotics and didn’t want to give me any because “that would put us both on a list.” Put me on a list, motherfucker! See if I care! As long as I don’t have to feel like someone is tightening a C-clamp on the back of my skull, I don’t give furry rat’s butt. All that really translates to anyway is “I’m more worried about my malpractice insurance than your pain.”
I swear, the goddamn junkies are ruining shit for everyone. First you have to show ID when you wanna buy sinus medicine because the damn meth-heads are using it to make their poison. Then there’s talk of making that kind of sinus med (pseudoephedrine) available by RX only… it’s sinus medicine for Christ’s sake! And now this! Like it wasn’t bad enough that half the doctors my husband and I go to, or see in the ER (he suffers from migraines as well,) look at us like we’re drug-seeking junkies when we tell them we need pain medicine. It’s not as if I haven’t been trying other means to control these headaches. The beta blockers, for one. I also see a chiropractor for regular adjustments (when I can afford the co-pays anyway.) I spend a lot of time sitting with my neck against a heating pad now. I have to miss volleyball a lot if I feel even a bit of neck pain, for fear of exacerbating it and ending up in excruciating agony for my trouble.
And do the people who create and pass these types of laws really think this is helping the “drug problem” in America? All it’s doing is causing trouble for the people who want to get their meds legally. It’s making people like me, who have legit have to consider getting pains meds through illegal means…yes, fear of pain can make a person desperate. It’s kind of like that saying about gun control: If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will own guns. All the people that just want a fix or pick up their Vicodin or Percoset scrips just to sell them will still find a way to get what they want. It’s us people that try to get meds legally, through the proper channels and procedures (which usually involve multiple doc visits and multiple co-pays,) who are screwed by this new law.
I know how this sounds, but I’ll reiterate that unless you have been in this kind of pain before, it’s hard to understand. The hospital is- was- my place of last resort. I don’t go there if I can help it. I don’t enjoy sitting in the waiting room and puking into a trashcan (which really doesn’t help the throbbing, by the way!) I would imagine some people who are addicted to pain medication would endure a long ER visit if it got them a fix, but it should be up to the doctor’s discretion to decide if a person is truly in pain or merely drug-seeking. That’s part of their jobs…diagnosis.
Before I quit my bitching, let me throw just one more adage (likely misquoted) at you.
It is better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be imprisoned.
Well, us sufferers of chronic pain are the innocent, imprisoned by our pain and the futility of trying to fight this type of legislation (and cheesy metaphors too 😀 )
Meh… Right now I am just grateful that I caught this headache in enough time that the dinky anti-inflammatory drugs they gave me in lieu of real medicine was enough combined with the medicines I’d already taken at home. I’m okay right now. I feel the headache floating in the background, but I’m okay right now. I think I’ll take a nap when the baby goes down, and hope I don’t kill myself one day with over-self-medication in an effort to keep the beast at bay.