Oh boy, just when I thought things could not get any stranger…
I went to the pain management clinic yesterday, with the intent of discussing tapering off meds, because frankly I am tired of having to schedule my life around my prescriptions (especially since I had to decline a trip to Memphis last Christmas, due to the clinic not understanding how to handle things).
I want to try, because I’m pretty sure my back isn’t getting better – I mean, disks don’t regenerate, unless you’re Dr. Who – and unless and until the DEA stops being so stupid and people are able once again to get meds from chain pharmacies while they are on vacation, I don’t want to be chained to my medication.
This would not be a problem if Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS, and so on would just refill out-of-state prescriptions. But instead of figuring out a way to do this, and putting practices into place that can prevent fake scripts and so on, they are just cracking down and treating everyone like drug addicts.
As I have written previously, even the DEA misinterprets their own data, which indicate that this “most heroin addicts started on pain medication” idea isn’t true (or is at least suspect, considering it is based on interviewing addicts).
What I mean by this is, when one does admissions interviews for rehab, the question is asked, “How did you become addicted?”
Most people will not state that they became addicted because their family members and friends already do heroin and they felt pressured to try it (surprisingly common in PA, to have entire families addicted).
Most people will not state that they thought heroin would be a decent escape from boredom, or something to do at a party.
No, what most people state is that they had pain, became addicted to pain medication, got cut off by the doctor, and then switched to heroin.
Because they are ashamed, or they don’t want to appear “weak”, or any number of reasons mostly related to saving face.
Yes, even in a rehab setting, there is still this fear of being stigmatized – and, as many of you know, this isn’t an irrational fear. I have written about the contempt with which many counselors hold their clients/patients.
So, ok…that is my take on why the data are so skewed, and why everyone is freaking out over “pill mills”, opiate addiction, and pain management.
But I digress, sort of.
I went to the pain clinic yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was that there were very few cars in the parking lot. And very few patients in the waiting room.
And new staff.
As I was signing the monthly “yes-you-can-drug-test-me” form, I noticed at the top that the physician’s assistant in charge was a name familiar to me – he ran an urgent care clinic years ago, and I was a patient of his.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like this guy. He’s personable, he’s smart, and likeable.
But he’s a walking advertisement for the Skeptical Enquirer, under the heading of “quack cures and woo-woo science”. He is someone I would never have thought I would see dispensing pain medication in a clinic.
This guy wears many hats – he’s a Reiki master, a hypnotherapist, and a proponent of “energy healing at a distance”.
I said to him, “Hey, I know you! You wrote the letter to the unemployment people when I got fired, telling them that I really did have a bad back and that the methadone clinic doctor had brought me in that day.”
Aside #1: The excuse for firing me was that I hadn’t called in to say I was being treated for a disk problem that occured WHEN I WAS AT WORK. They got me on a technicality, stating that sending the clinic doctor back to pass the word that I wasn’t coming in the next day “wasn’t proper procedure”, and that they had had NO idea where I was.)
I had a hearing with the unemployment people, and my former supervisor
lied stated that she had tried to call me numerous times but I wasn’t answering. I had phone records to disprove this but the guy in charge of the hearing wouldn’t look at them.
I asked him what he had been doing, and what he was doing working in a pain management clinic?
Aside #2: I kinda knew what he was doing, as he’s all over the internet giving lectures on podcasts and at UFO/Paranormal conferences and such, but I wanted to hear about what brought him to this clinic.
He stated he had been living in New Mexico for 3 years.
Of course, probably Taos or some other new age community.
He didn’t say what brought him back here, but he did say that if anyone had told him years ago he would end up working in a pain management clinic, he wouldn’t have believed it.
I agree. I was rather gobsmacked myself at seeing him there.
I told him I was thinking of tapering off, due to the whole vacation thing.
His suggestion? “Just don’t take any more. Detox and get it over with.”
I mean, the guy used to work as a consultant to the rehab company I worked for (which actually gets him a lot of points with me, as he did stick up for me at my hearing).
But he ought to know that one does not just stop taking 60 mg of morphine, cold-turkey. Yet that was his advice to me, and he added that tapering off is a “form of torture”.
Hey, I don’t even go off antidepressants without tapering. I don’t need my blood pressure skyrocketing like that, and whether it’s “withdrawal” or “discontinuation syndrome” (withdrawal off “nice” drugs like antidepressants), it’s damn unpleasant.
But he was nice enough to let me decide how to do it, so I went with tapering.
Um…his idea of tapering is cutting the dose in half, right away, and adding a stronger shorter duration opiate like oxycodone “for break-through pain”.
That’s not my idea of tapering but I figured I would give it a shot.