I had gone to my usual appointment on March 17, and told the PA that I was going out of town to Seattle and would not make my April appointment. When this happened last year, what she did was write the RX for 60 days, so I wouldn’t run out.
Not this time.
I should add, right before I asked her about this, she and I had a (what I thought was) slight disagreement over a research project some guy was doing via the clinic.
This guy I had never seen came into the room I was in and handed me a tablet. I watched a video about a research thing that was going to take people’s DNA and determine by that how they would react to medication.
I didn’t think it made sense. I asked the guy about it. He mumbled something about DNA and people who were prone to feel more pain than others, but didn’t explain how it worked.
So I declined.
When the PA came in, I asked her about it. She stated the same kinds of things, then added, “You know how some people are more prone to addiction than others? It’s due to their DNA you know – addictive personality and so on.”
“No, I don’t believe that, actually,” I replied, “and it’s not been my experience as a drug counselor. Also, “addictive personality” is not in the DSM, it’s not a diagnosis,” I added.
“Just because YOU don’t believe in it, doesn’t make it any less true!” she snapped.
I was taken aback, having never had this person snap at me like this before. I have been going to see her for 4 years now.
“Well, I’m not going to argue with you,” she continued, rather grumpily I thought.
This is when I brought up my trip.
“You’ll have to come in a day or two before you leave,” she stated.
“But you didn’t do it that way all the other times I went on vacation, like to Seattle or Memphis,” I said,
“I won’t help you today. Come back right before you leave.”
Puzzled, I did. Last week.
I got called to the desk while I was in the waiting room.
Another PA said to me, “You are too early, you have to come back the 17th. I can’t refill your prescription.”
“But I am going out of town, and _______ told me to come back today.”
The PA took me back to an exam room. There was nothing in the chart about my trip.
“I can’t help you. I can’t write another script until the 17th,” she repeated.
(Plunking down my medicine bottles) “Do a pill count – I’m not short,” I stated.
Then I repeated what the other PA had told me last time I was there.
She got embarrassed and left the room. She came back with prescriptions.
“You cannot fill these until the 17th,” she said.
“But I will be in a place without use of a car, and I don’t even know where the drugstores are around where I am going!” I protested.
My prescription here is filled by a local pharmacy, not Walgreen’s or anything. So it’s not like they have branches in Seattle. And, thanks to the idiots who lobby against pain medication, to show up in a town in which you do not live, with an opiate prescription from out of state….
…….well, I kind of don’t want the hassle of doing that. I can envision endless questions, the pharmacist calling the pain clinic (which doesn’t put you through to anyone, they take a message and if you are lucky they will call you back – I’ve never been lucky that way), the “is she or isn’t she a junkie” questions swirling around the pharmacy staff’s heads, and so on.
I am supposed to subject myself to this when I am ill? Hell I don’t even like things like this when I feel ok.
“Never mind,” I told the PA. “I will cancel my trip, this is way too much hassle.”
“Oh now I feel bad,” she says (sure you do, I thought).
I made an appt for this Friday. I told them to please not let this happen again, as I do like to visit my kids and may be going out of state in December.
“We won’t forget, not after this!” she exclaimed. I got the feeling she really did feel kind of ashamed.
As it turned out, my trip was canceled for other reasons, I found out when I got home.
But still………..why did the PA do what she did? She knew the regulations about ordering pain meds, that you cannot refill them ahead of time. You can write a prescription for a larger amount at the time the refill is due, but other than that, you can’t change things.
The fact that this PA, who I have known for 4 years, who has written larger amounts when I had to go out of town at least 3 other times, told me to come back a day before I left….it’s just baffling to me why she did this.
Was she mad at me because I disagreed with her over addiction issues? She’s lucky I was as restrained as I was, considering it’s my field and not hers, and that I think her response was rude.
No, I didn’t push it because she is the one who writes the prescriptions. And when running out means you will be in considerable discomfort, that gives her a lot of power. But she obviously was still upset – maybe she felt dumb when she couldn’t explain the research project to me, I don’t know.
But what she did was out of bounds. I kept saying to her, “But you didn’t do this the other times,” and she kept saying, “I won’t write a script. Come back the day before you leave.”
As usual, I thought maybe the rules had changed, so I didn’t challenge her.
I should have. And this made me think really hard about what was going on here. I dread my appointment on Friday. Will she deny she said that? Will she apologise? Will she blame me and say I didn’t explain things to her?
I am going with 1 and 3. And that will upset me. A lot. Because it’s dishonest, and it’s called “gaslighting”. Her word against mine.
I am considering telling the clinic and the PA to start titrating me down. My back isn’t fusing like it was supposed to, and I don’t see the pain resolving on its own.
The thing is, it’s really painful. So I am reluctant to titrate off the pain meds. But now I feel like I have something to prove, a point to make. And I hate being at the mercy of someone’s whims/temper like this.
This PA had the power to screw up my travel plans. What about next time? It’s not as if I can go to Dr. Wonderful and ask him to write me a script – the primary care doctors here are extremely scared of the feds and won’t do it. That’s how I was referred to the pain clinic in the first place.
After 4 years of monthly pill counts and piss tests, I am sick of it. In all that time I have never tested hot for anything, nor have my pill counts been off….
…..except for one time. I was short 2 pills. Once. In 4 years. It was 8 or 9 months ago, I think.
The PA (this one I am having issues with apparently) came into the room and said…
“….Are you going to tell me what happened to the 2 pills you’re short, or not?”
I kid you not, this is how she STARTED the conversation.
I was aghast, as I didn’t know I was short 2 pills. I don’t count my pills, because I take them as directed.
I told her I didn’t know why. Maybe they fell out of the bottle or something.
She then started grilling me about how often I take them, do I have any friends who are addicts (what? why would a drug counselor have addicts for friends???) and so on.
I repeated to her I didn’t know what happened. She said she would “let it go this time.”
Wow. How charitable of her.
By the way, I was spring cleaning the other day, getting out the dust bunnies from under the bed, and guess what I found?
Yep, the 2 pills. Do I tell her this? Yeah, I think I will. I actually did a pill count this morning and am over by at least 15 pills. Because they are for breakthrough pain, and I didn’t take them some days. The TENS unit I got last month seems to help with that.
So I don’t have a good recent history with her, I guess, and my teasing about medical pot didn’t help (I asked them if they were going into the pot dispensary business once).
I don’t think I like the way I am being treated by this clinic. So now I have to decide if it’s worth severe back pain to start titrating off so I don’t have to deal with this PA anymore. And who knows what they will write in the medical record, along with the 2 missing pill panic?
I do not need to be labeled as ‘drug-seeking’ or ‘difficult’. This area is very small-townish, word spreads, and they do not obey HIPAA laws.
So it’s not been a good 2 weeks for me. I am sad that I can’t go to Seattle, I am scared that I have lost my SNAP benefits, and I am furious at how the PA treated me.
And I am still sick with the mystery illness. No, not a good 2 weeks at all.
Today’s weirdness is from Scientific American. It’s an article about the bright spots seen on Ceres. Scientists are looking at the pictures taken by the spacecraft Dawn, that’s been circling the dwarf planet. They think there might be ice caves on Ceres, which would be wonderful because…water. You know, water and life and stuff. It’s exciting!
“Mystery of Ceres’s (sic) Bright Spots Grows”, Scientific American, online, 4/13/2015.
As for books or movies, I don’t have any. Oh, I’ve been reading alright, but not anything I would particularly recommend. I have left a lot of bad reviews for books lately on Barnes and Noble.
Be good. Be kind. Help someone fight the powers-that-be, if you are able to.