Perception and facts are not necessarily the same thing ?

mtmolehill1This showed up in a closed chronic pain website.. There is a old saying “..what you perceive .. is what you believe …”  Have we become so jaded… that we work off of personal perception(s)… and refuse to investigate – and believe – the FACTS ?

My mother started having back and knee problems in her 30s. She had been a social worker and teacher all of her adult life.

At the onset of her severe problems, my parents owned a lucrative preschool/daycare center, after a cerebral aneurysm forced my dad to retire from his chemical engineering career.

By her mid-forties, my mom was completely disabled, and retired from work permanently.

We made the move from Southern California to Illinois when my mom was in her 50s, shortly after my husband and I were married.

My parents settled in a tiny, rural town where the nearest doctor was, at least, 20 minutes from home.

Nonetheless, they quickly found a kind, caring, general practitioner, in a major city, 35 miles away. He referred my mom to a pain doctor in the same city.

At that time, when she was no longer able to get relief from over-the-counter pain medicine, her doctor mercifully prescribed her three 7.5mg Hydrocodone pills daily.

Although they were originally prescribed by her new pain doctor, who also gave her a few successful lumbar-injections, her GP was happy to maintain the monthly-medication, given my mother’s severe arthritic conditions.

The medicine made such a difference in my mom’s life. She was able to thoroughly enjoy playing with the grandkids, walking with my dad, shopping, as well as so many other day-to-day activities which were previously out of reach.

In short, she regained some of the missing quality of her life.

Then, we lost my wonderful father to pancreatic cancer.

Following my dad’s passing, my mom made a fateful decision to find new doctors much closer to her area. She has always hated driving long distances by herself, and, without my dad at the wheel, she found the 35 miles prohibitive.

She settled for one of the very few GPs, in a nearby town. He, in turn, referred her to a local pain doctor, “Dr. X. “

Doctor X performed several epidural injections for my mother. One or two, out of the several shots, gave my mother additional relief.

While Dr. X continued to schedule more injections for her, he also continued to prescribe her life-saving pain medication.

Then, prior to her last injection with Dr. X, he told my mother, “If THIS injection doesn’t work, there is nothing else I can do for you, and you might as well not come back!”

My mom was, understandably, devastated since the shots had, in the past, given her a bit of comfort, no matter how fleeting.

After this last encounter with the lovely Dr. X, her GP took over her pain medication prescription, filling it every month, for several years.

One day, about a year ago, a completely-preventable event occurred that, we believe, is the cause of my mother’s declining health.

She called the pharmacy, (CVS), as she always did, on the 29th day for all of her refills, including her Hydrocodone.

From here, we are not exactly sure what happened, or who, at CVS, caused the disaster, but their actions ruined my poor mother’s life.

It started when she got the call from CVS.

The pharmacy-technician told my mother, “I just got off the phone with your doctor and he will not allow us to fill your Hydrocodone.”

A bit confused, my mother asked, “Why not?”

The tech continued, “Well, according to Dr. X’s office, you are no longer a patient there.”

Doctor X.

My mom had not seen the grumpy old pain doctor in over two years.

At first, my mother laughed off the error, and patiently explained to the young tech that her GP was her primary doctor now, and had been for years, and that he, and he alone, filled ALL of her prescriptions.

She hung up the phone, thinking she solved the problem, and that CVS would call the appropriate doctor.

But, then, the phone calls started.

The first person to call her was Dr. X’s nurse.

Although my mom was surprised to hear from her, she always liked his nurse, despite his own terrible bed-side-manner.

“What are you trying to pull?,” the woman demanded of my then-71-year-old mother.

My mom, of course, was quite confused.

The nurse continued by accusing my mother of giving Dr. X’s name to the pharmacy, in an attempt to have her pain medicine filled by multiple doctors, at the same time.

Of course, my mom was flabbergasted. She explained the pharmacy’s mistake to the woman, and apologized profusely, even though it wasn’t my mother’s error.

Then, the nurse from her GP’s office called my mom, nearly immediately after she hung up from Dr. X’s nurse.

Her GP had, by now, finally received the request from CVS. They had also received a call from Dr. X’s nurse.

Together, the two nurses had obviously discussed my mother’s underhanded attempt to fill her medicine twice, and the second nurse tore into my sweet mother in much the same way as the first.

By now, my mom was in shock. Could something like this ACTUALLY be happening?

The final blow that day came from the pharmacist at CVS.

He had heard about the debacle, and called to inform my mother that CVS can only fill this “type” of prescription from one doctor.

After trying to explain to him that she only had ONE doctor, the pharmacist finally filled my mom’s medicine.

The next day, she picked up all of her medicine, and was very aware of the suspicious glances from the pharmacy staff.

When she arrived home, she had an urgent phone-message from her GP’s office, stating that the doctor wanted to see her as soon as possible.

My mother went in for an office visit the following day.

At the appointment, the nurse asked her, “Exactly what ARE you doing with all those pills?!?”

My mom, still in shock, and still not fully understanding the gravity of the situation, told her plainly, “Well, I’m TAKING them.”

The nurse, who was obviously not happy with my mom’s answer, continued, “Well, we JUST gave you the same amount of pills only a month ago! Where did THOSE go?!?”

My poor, innocent mom, said, “Well, I took those too.”

When the doctor arrived, he very-shortly told my mom that he was switching her to Tramadol, and that he would, never again, prescribe Hydrocodone to her.

My mom left the office without protesting, assuming that, if the first medicine worked so well and, essentially, allowed her a comfortable semblance of her pre-arthritic life, then this new, doctor-recommended “Tramadol” would certainly do the same.

Nothing was further from the truth.

In the following months, my mother began to suffer terribly.

All of the old aches and pains, that were, for 15 years, held at bay, came back to crush her.

She couldn’t walk. She couldn’t shop, spend time with friends, do any housework, or even travel the two-hours to visit my family or my brother’s family.

She brought out her old cane that she had used only sparingly during recent years.

But, most importantly, she couldn’t sleep. She was suddenly only able to achieve about three hours each night, because the pain was excruciating.

Over the past year, my mother has begged her GP to prescribe her a better medication.

It turns out that Tramadol gives her severe migraines, and a stomach ache. In addition to her arthritis, my mom has diverticulitis, and colon polyps. Any unusual change to her medications typically causes tummy troubles.

In general, they make her feel dizzy and fuzzy, as though she were drunk. I have the same reaction to this medication, so it might be an inherited allergy.

Also, the Tramadol barely touches her pain, so she takes it sparingly.

Time and time again, she has discussed these issues with her doctor.

When she asks for the Hydrocodone, his only reply is, “No. I’m not going to give you that.”

At some point in the past year, since her pain has been so severe, her GP referred her to a rheumatologist.

Her GP even threw her a small bone once by saying, “When you get to the rheumatologist, HE will give you a more appropriate pain-reliever. “

But, the specialist ALSO refused, stating, “No. Sorry. Your GP will have to prescribe that to you.”

My mom does nothing but suffer. She cries all the time, and has given up nearly everything in her life that she used to enjoy.

She is now forced to rely heavily on Ibuprofen, a medication that upsets her stomach terribly, even more than the Tramadol.

A few months back, my mom was given the name of an excellent pain doctor, who is a bit further away than her current doctors.

However, according friends in her area, who suffer with similar conditions to hers, this doctor is always willing to prescribe anything and everything to help his chronic-pain patients.

My mom changed her insurance company, and waited until January to get the chance to visit this new, highly-recommended doctor.

After all, a lot of her friends go to this doctor, and have successfully started regimens that include every pain-relieving medication on the market.

Some of them take the Hydrocodone, but in MUCH larger doses than my mother EVER did, while others get relief from Oxycontin, Morphine, various patches, and even implanted-pain-pumps.

For months, she waited patiently for the chance to see this famously-understanding doctor.

When her first appointment approached, the new doctor’s office requested a number of records, including notes from her GP, and a pharmacy-generated list of her medications.

While she did not see her doctor’s notes, she hand-carried the medication list.

There, on the list, dated about a year ago, in large, bold typing, are the words, “NARCOTIC ALERT! SEE NOTES!”

We can only imagine what that hand-written notes say.

So, needless to say, this wonderful, helpful doctor promptly informed my mother, at their first meeting, “No. I’m not going to change your medicines, but I want you to know you can take up to 10 Ibuprofen daily.”

My mother is lost.

It is important to note that no one, in our family, has EVER had a substance-abuse problem.

Not one of us has ever even been a drinker. No one even has wine at dinner!

My mother was, for many years, a social worker. She worked, often, with troubled-teens who battled various addictions.

My mom looks like Mrs. Santa Claus, dresses like a congresswoman, and speaks like a Harvard professor.

There is NO way ANYONE could EVER peg her to be a drug-abuser.

Except, the pharmacy-technician, who was 20-years-old, and facing a certain-scolding from her pharmacist, made a critical error that is, quite literally, costing my mother her life.

I hope the young lady got a nice Christmas bonus for catching the addict.

The way my mother has been treated this past year borders on elder-abuse.

My mom should be enjoying her 70s, running here and there, and spending time with family and friends.

Instead, she’s writhing in pain, worried about whether or not she can even get up to go to the bathroom.

If her pain wasn’t so well-known controlled before, I would think, maybe, this is just the natural progression of the disease. But, if that were the case, she would not have spiralled down-hill immediately following the removal of her medication.

At the very least, some doctor, somewhere, during the course of the last year, should have weaned her slowly away from her previous medicine.

It is nothing short of a crime against a sweet, elderly woman, who never committed a wrong deed in her entire life. And, I want justice for my mother, and for every other victim in this “war” against drugs!

4 Responses

  1. Painkillers-first thing you learn is to never ask for a certain medication even when it works because that is considered a flag. How on earth could such a nightmare occur? I honestly thought that going to another pharmacy was o.k.when the one I used for years refused to fill my prescription. Was acceptable since I had the doctors permission. What I didn’t know was my search for the ordered and needed medication would raise my score forever on Tennessee monthly narcotics list. Using one pharmacy is great if they fill your medication. With this sheet anyone could see when the 30 days are up. I can’t understand the cruelty and treatment of this poor lady. She has the option of putting a explanation in her record but of course the professional would be believed over her. Who cares at her age if she is comfortable? Only in the USA. This would be the first time I would say smoke pot or buy elsewhere. How shameful that the choice is to suffer or committ a crime.

    • Is there anyway the daughter could go on and advocatenfor her mom? I knownif it werr my mom, I would have taken her back to the GPs office and gone thru the whole story and insisted it be cleared up! Then I would have filed a complaint against CVS

  2. I was sitting here thinking about what other kinds of drugs this woman could ask for, but if hydrocodone worked for her, I don’t know of anything comparable that’s in Class III. She might try codeine, although it may upset her stomach. But maybe a different drug delivery system for codeine would help, like in a cough syrup instead of a pill.

    There’s also Marinol, a synthetic cannabis medication mostly used for nausea. I don’t think Marinol provides any pain relief, but it could help with the symptoms. If you live in a state with a medical cannabis program, that’s also an option. I also obtained benefits from hydrocodone, and when that was no longer available, then found some help with medical cannabis. Maybe the same could work for her.

    She could also try buprenorphine, but there’s a lot of nausea with that drug too. And I don’t recommend this drug, I just thought I’d mention it because it’s probably pretty easy to get.

    There’s also different steroids, which would work as strong anti-inflammatories — but these drugs really weaken your immune system.

    Good luck.

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