Living with chronic pain is, in and of itself, frustrating. And, I am a naturally sarcastic, gallows humor sort of person. The combination of these two characteristics make it so that I’m destined to be high-snark. In recognition of this, I try to dial it down when I realize that I’m doing it. Honestly though, sometimes it’s the only thing I can do to avoid screaming like a banshee when I encounter the following situations.
1. Helpful Suggestions
Yes, Cindy. I’ve tried yoga.
Yes, Phillip. I did try a chiropractor.
Yes, Sara. I did try nerve block injections.
I understand why people give suggestions when they discover that I’ve been dealing with chronic hip pain for five years. At least, rationally I understand. Still, my immediate reaction is GODDAMNIT. Because inevitably it leads to a conversation where they list all of their brilliant ideas to “help” and I have to sit/stand through it pleasantly saying, “Yes, I tried X.” Anyone who’s met me knows that I’m a problem-solver. I tackle all problems tenaciously, methodically and with purpose. So why would you think that these basic, “helpful” suggestions have not been attempted five years in? Hmmm?!
2. Insurance Snafus
Every. Single. Time. I interact with my insurance company it is a giant pain in the ass. With chronic pain, there’s always some new procedure to try that could perhaps “help.” Naturally, that means having interact with insurance companies for preauthorization.
Every. Single. Time. There is some sort of mess up, some form not signed, some form not received or faxed or mailed or delivered. SOMETHING.
Inevitably, it takes an hour of phone tag or automated phone conversations before you can talk to a human being who may or may not be able to help you at all. At least one time there must be a dropped transfer and you’re forced to call again and do the whole song and dance again.
Yes, doctors suck. Yes, I know that that’s a terrible attitude to have but hear me out first OK? When I first started this journey, I dutifully followed the “plans” and “prescriptions’ of the doctors I interacted with. After months of this and being no closer to understanding why I had chronic hip pain or how to treat it, I gradually slipped into doctors suck mode.
You know how some people are, “I give respect when I’m given respect?” I’m one of those people. So until I’ve discerned that my doctor is competent, I have ZERO graciousness to rustle up. I’ve learned that most doctors are nothing like you see on Grey’s Anatomy or Chicago Med. They don’t care to get to the bottom of the mystery, they’re more interested in offering a balm and ushering you out the office so they can see another patient.
For months I told my then primary care doctor that OTC drugs did nothing for my pain. He prescribed Naproxen, dutifully I waited the weeks it took before he took me seriously when I said “This doesn’t do anything.” He prescribed Tramadol, again I dutifully waited the weeks it took before forking over another copay to see him. He prescribed acetaminophen-codeine. Again, those did nothing and I was in agony. Finally, he referred me to a pain clinic where I could get a higher level of narcotic. Initially, I was very averse to taking narcotics because I worried about addiction but eventually I reached the point where it was that or being immobile. New doctor wanted to start with, guess what,
acetaminophen-codeine. I realized I had started the wheel all over again. No solutions just balms. There would be lots of balms but no actual explanations or solutions.
So yes, doctors suck until otherwise proven. Right now I’m trying and failing at being my own best advocate. I’m working on incorporating the tips found in this cool blog post that talks about being a power patient. It’s easier said than done though.
Are you living with chronic pain? What frustrates you the most?