Thursday, June 22, 2006
Drug Seeking...? Maybe, maybe not!
When I found the world of medical blogging, I thought I had died and fallen into a big vat of dark chocolate. I love medicine. I have loved medicine since I was a child and for fun would sit around reading my moms nursing textbooks. My dream FOREVER was to be a surgeon.
Unfortunately, when adolescence hit my neighborhood, my hormones convinced me that other things were more important than school and now at 45, my children are grown and I don’t have the money for school.
So now I live my life vicariously through all the wonderful BLOGS out there belonging to folks in the medical field. I love it!! The one recurring theme through several of them I have felt the need to speak to though. I know it is a touchy subject, but there is more than one side and I want any docs (and others but it is the docs who can prescribe) to hear one more.
I met my “now husband” 7 years ago. I am 45 and he is 52. Dear Spouse lives with chronic pain. He has several chronic illness’ (most of which showed up within the past 4 years. I can only hope that is not a reflection on being around me so much.) Without violating his HIPPA rights, let’s just say a couple of them cause him unrelenting pain 24/7.
Now I cannot judge another person’s pain. Neither can you. I do know I have watched this big bear of a man (6’5) change before my very eyes. When we met, he was full of laughter and merriment. He was bright and seemed to light up a room when he entered it. (He sure lit my world but I’ll tell that story later.) He has worked since he was 15 years old and went to college while supporting his parents since his dad had his first heart attack at 44 and was gone by 56. He is a hard worker. A smart, intelligent man.
For four years, we went from our family doctor, whom we love and adore, to several others before we found someone willing to treat the pain. I know, I know... Doctors are afraid of prescribing the “good stuff” too much or too often. You all have governmental agencies breathing down your necks and big brother watching your every script. I do not pretend to know the answer to this dilemma. I do know, that when we finally found someone willing to “TREAT HIS PAIN”, I have watched some life come back into his world.
There are side effects. Sometimes he cannot keep his eyes open no matter how hard he tries. He was laid off from his job shortly before he was given this pain medication. Since he began this treatment we have noticed that it makes it very difficult for him to stay awake sometimes. Between the sedation and the other symptoms of his illness', I don’t know if he will ever be able to go back to work.
No job means no benefits. No benefits means no insurance. Again, I don’t know what the answer is. Do we let him hurt constantly non-stop 24/7 so that he can hold down (maybe) a full time job, or do we allow him some peace in his body and his mind by giving him the medication required even though it has this other negative impact on his life? He was barely able to work anyway. The 40 hours a week took everything he had. There was nothing left in his non-work hours. He was just totally wiped out. So what is quality of life?
On the medication (Fentanyl), he is more comfortable. He smiles more. He laughs more. He is not as depressed since the pain is lessened. It is not gone, it has just lessened. We accept that it may never be fully gone, but we are thrilled with the improvement he has now.
The future is scary to me. Right now I am able to (barely) pay the COBRA premiums for his insurance. Unfortunately COBRA is only good here in our state for 12 months. His medications come to $1900 a month. With the insurance we pay $200 out of pocket. We’re “making payments” on I don’t even remember how many medical bills each month. Without the COBRA...I do not know WHAT we will do. But I do know that to let him suffer is just wrong. Just plain, downright wrong.
One day, we can talk about how chronic illness changes (and challenges) a semi new marriage.