Sunday, April 8, 2012

Educating the Professionals on Pain

"I totally agree with you that there is an urgent need for education in regards to chronic pain - not just for the community at large, but for the very doctors, specialists, physios and other health care workers who are supposed to be the very ones who should understand our pain, limitations and difficulties better than any others!"

Great comment by one of my longtime readers. Her comment triggered writing on this subject, regarding educating the very ones that should have already been schooled on chronic pain.  The docs, nurses, and other healthcare professionals that are in the profession to help others, to relieve suffering, and to advocate for their patients.

Example:  A new Primary doc visit.  Me: These are the medications I am taking to control my chronic pain.  Doc:  YOU are taking this dose?  Me:  Yes sir, my pain is excellently managed by my pain management physician.  Doc:  YOU are really taking this dose?  Me:  Yes doctor.  Doc:  Would you consent to a urine drug screen?  Me:  Sure, let's do it!  Doc:  I have never seen any patient take this dosage of medications and not be (insert a doctor hanging his arms down at his sides, slumping, eyes at half mast, and kind of limping) like this.  Me:  Well, I have been taking these medications for many years, and I am tolerant to the dose.  Doc:  I have never seen such bright eyes, and even though you are on crutches, you are quite balanced and alert.  Me:  Just give me the cup.

I decided not to have any water.

First time I have been asked for a drug screen, and first time I have been asked for that screen to prove I am really taking what I said I was prescribed, because I 'looked so alert', and 'my eyes were so bright'.

When I related all of this to my Pain management physician of over 8 years, he smiled and said, "I guess he doesn't have many chronic pain patients, eh?"  We giggled about it, and he said how many times he has heard that, always surprised that GP's, Family Practice, or Internists do not seem to either SEE CP patients, or just do not treat them, therefore they stay away from the pain meds and act all bent out of shape when they hear what a specialist has done to help alleviate the pain.

How many times have we chronic pain patients had to visit the ER?  Never a good visit.  Never.  How many times have you been told:  "Oh, we don't prescribe that here, we are not going to give you any pain meds, we will treat your withdrawal symptoms, (even if with a medication I do not want to take), but we can not give you anything for the pain."

I am sure we all have some awesome Emergency Room stories.  It is there that I believe the education has to start regarding patients in chronic pain, who take medications for said pain, who are left without medication for days while the insurance company takes its time with authorizations, etc.  The ER is the first line of defense and I am very aware about the nurses and docs running with the joke about the 'drug seekers'.  I get it.  I have seen both sides.

When a person that lives in pain is seeking help, and truly has prescriptions for a medication(s), WHY do we have to go through so many hoops?  WHY are we made to feel like a flippin druggie?  WHY do some of the staff act like we are the most horrible thing that ever walked into their workplace?  WHERE is the empathy?  But most of all, WHERE is the professionalism?

When did judgement become a course in medical training?

Below is an excerpt from the internet for a Pain management physician who practices in Southern California.  I must give it to him for the kindness and openness with which he states his practice philosophy.

We don’t just treat pain. We’re also doing everything we can to change the way people think about pain and wellness, working to dispel the myths, misconceptions (and prejudices) that surround chronic pain. I believe that chronic pain is a serious medical condition and I alway treat my patients with the dignity and respect they deserve. You will never be labeled a “drug addict” in my clinic. 
Dr. K.

I would love to hear about your experiences with this subject!!

Gentle Hugs.... and Stay strong ~just for today~


  1. CP has been my companion since mid 1975 when my sacrum and the concrete lip of a swimming pool met with a lot of force. The sacrum gave way and the concrete scored the Win. In the last decade I have been able to move to CA from FL and get myself some health insurance. Then a good doctor and a long-term relationship with her have given me back my life. I can work a bit, play some, sit at my computer for long enough to catch up with my blogs and sites I follow.

    I have been lucky to be able to transfer my entire life here from the East Coast and adapt my lifestyle to a cooler climate, more urban, multiculturalism Everywhere, variety in foods and movies and friends and housing and education. Many are not so lucky and cannot change their whole life, we need to get this info across the country and then the world. Humans unite !~!

  2. Shauna, You always write such interesting posts. Even though I do not suffer with chronic pain like you do, I completely understand what you are saying. With my condition, Addison's Disease, ER Docs either know it...or know nothing. I have had to explain to more than a few doctors what to do when I go into crisis. But, with pain that is bad enough to land you in the ER, and doctors that won't listen to you...I don't know how you do it. Daily pain is something I cannot even imagine. I have a friend who is an ER junkie, and seems to always get medication, and an RX! I don't know how she does it, but she does it over and over. And, the ER won't listen to you and other CP sufferers. It sucks.


  3. Shauna,

    I'm still almost completely offline. Just wanted to stop by and say hi. I won't even get started on docs who don't "get" chronic pain. Let's just say I strongly agree that doctors need far better training about how to treat chronic pain!


    1. I agree with you Jeanne that doctors need to be better trained about treating chronic pain. I suffer from chronic pain and I have struggled to cope with it. One relief I have gotten from the pain is through following the advice I found at I hope this is helpful to those out there still trying to deal with their pain.

  4. Shauna, looking forward to reading your blog. I came across durning another painful night trying to get even a little sleep. I definitely will be back to read and be encouraged by yet another victim of CP.
    Adding you to my list and here is my blog if your interested. I just had a spinal cord stimulator implanted on May 16 of this year and this was my last option for relief after 10+ years of trying everything under the sun available.
    God Bless, T. Trahan

  5. You always have insightful and inspiring posts, Shauna. I am fortunate to have a GP who actually listens to me about my pain and my medications. In the beginning we went through some of the normal concerns about being addicted and instead of getting upset with him, I worked with him. I used to bring my bottle of narcotics to him each month so I could show him I was only taking them if I needed them. When he gave me oxycodone and I could take it because of severe itching, I gave it back to him so we could dispose of it properly. I remember in the beginning he said something about me being an addict and I reminded him that there is a difference between an "addict" and becoming so accustomed to a narcotic that you had to keep increasing the dose. He listened and since that time we've worked well together.

    Blessings for you, Shauna!


Join in the conversation on chronic pain. Thanks for your input and point of view.