Some medical news

Electrical Implant
My back and shoulders pain has been bad enough lately that I went through my entire 30-day supply of oxycodone (a strong narcotic) in 19-days, after which I upped my dosage of Neurontin (a nerve-pain pill) and started taking Ambien, not that either helped much.

I’m to see a new pain specialist (my third) next week, but I was hurting so much this morning that I called my internist and got a late appointment. He changed my oxycodone prescription to a much higher dose of Oxycontin (time-release oxycodone) and nearly doubled the Neurontin. He also suggested that I might be an candidate for a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) or an electrical implant. I already have a TENS unit, but I never used it much and would greatly prefer an implant anyway because that way I wouldn’t have to change out pads, snake wires through my clothing, position the leads, and so on. Besides, one TENS unit wouldn’t be enough. By comparison, an implant would be worry free except for having to go in to have the batteries replaced.

I didn’t initially tell my internist about the new pain specialist because I was afraid he would want to hold-off on increasing my narcotic dosage (as he was, he gave me so much more than expected that I could have kissed him). After my internist left the office, his assistant started talking about the pain specialist he wanted me to see (for the TENS unit or implant), so I told her about the one I’m already supposed to see. She said she would ask the internist whether to cancel the referral he was going to make, but I asked her to put it through anyway because it takes months to see one of these guys, and since I don’t know how I’ll like the one I’m to see next week, I had just as soon have a replacement lined-up.

I chose next week’s pain specialist based upon the fact he used to inject steroid shots into my osteonecrotic (as in dead) neck vertebra. This was a big deal requiring a twilight sleep anesthetic and a fluoroscope, and since he struck me as competent and kindly, I had my back surgeon in Portland (the one I saw in February) refer me to him. Still, he wasn’t a pain specialist when I last saw him, and I haven’t been impressed with pain specialists. You would think that, if there’s one kind of doctor who would be compassionate, it would be a pain specialist, but that hasn't been my experience.

I get so tired of living in pain (having been doing it for around eight years now), yet I came home with a small degree of renewed hope. So many people don't have a doctor who gives a rip, and at least I have a good internist. The problem is that he's my age, so he'll probably be retiring before too many more years.


lotta joy said...

Read my post Snow, for I have also been referred to a pain specialist, and down here, this might mean being told to take Aleve. I have been diagnosed with an ongoing malady that presents excruciating pain in my rib cage, along with everything else I contend with. Only on fear of death from Joe, did my doctor whip out her prescription pad and suggest a pain doctor. She said that most of them "down here" have stopped prescribing Hydocodone at all, and that "maybe" this one will prescribe morphine. I have no hope, but he's the only one who accepts my insurance.

Personality means a lot where a doctor is concerned, and is a great indicator whether he has compassion or not. I looked him up on google, and if I can judge a book by its cover, I think I'm screwed.

An implanted TENS unit sounds promising. I know all about the pads, the wires, and the considerable lack of help from those hand held ones.

angela said...

I'm sorry your pain is so bad. These doctors are not sympathetic at all. It's like your asking for drugs so you can go out and have a good time. Seriously. I'd rather not take them and live a happy healthy life. Sometimes I wonder it's so easy to get drugs on the street maybe we should just go out and do that. Hope they are helpful to you

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello greetings and good wishes.

I am very sorry to read this post.

I would strongly recommend that you see a younger doctor because old doctors don't update their knowledge with the latest techniques.

I went through this experience in the case of my wife. We consulted an elderly doctor for her stomach problems after she had three cesarean deliveries. He only made her condition worse. Finally we became desperate and went another hospital and consulted a younger doctor. He solved her problems.

So taking an opinion from a younger well qualified doctor may of use because you are suffering so much pain after all the medications and treatment.

Hope you will get well soon.

PhilipH said...

So very sorry to read this new post Snowy.

Pain clinics seem to abound more and more and yet they are often unable to REALLY deal with the problem of chronic pain.

Can only wish you well asap, or at least a reduction in the nauseating pain symptoms.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Oh Snow! I'm so sorry you're in so much pain. I hope you get some relief!

Snowbrush said...

“She said that most of them "down here" have stopped prescribing Hydocodone at all, and that "maybe" this one will prescribe morphine.”

Fat chance, and if he does, he will probably try other things first. For example, Neurontin really is a good drug and it’s much safer than narcotics. The DEA has everyone running scared. For example, I took my prescription for Oxycontin to a druggist yesterday and she said that she didn’t have it in that size pill (30 mgs), but she did have it in a smaller size (10 mgs). Okay, great, give me three 10s for every 30. NOOO, she couldn’t do that unless the doctor reordered the drug. When narcotics enter the picture, everything gets weird, really weird. I know this from experience, and it has caused me to hate the DEA with a passion. They attack narcotics as if the drugs offer nothing but death, whereas narcotics have the power to enable some suffering people to go with their lives.

“It's like your asking for drugs so you can go out and have a good time”

It is true that a lot of doctors feel that way, but it’s also true that a lot of druggies lie to doctors about being in pain. And it’s also true that I like the feeling that I get from narcotics. Since I’ve been out, I’ve been drinking rum for the pain, and I don’t much like the feeling that alcohol gives, plus I would need so much of it that it would make it hard to function if I allowed myself to drink that much. On narcotics, I can take a whale of a dose, go about my daily business, and not feel bad later. In all the years I’ve been taking them, I’ve found that they agree with me physically. In other words, they don’t leave me feeling lousy for having taken them. Even so, they scare me, so I don’t fuck around with them.

“I would strongly recommend that you see a younger doctor because old doctors don't update their knowledge with the latest techniques.”

I think it would be wrong to choose a doctor by age just as I think it would be wrong to choose a doctor by race or gender. I will admit to having some such prejudices (for example, I prefer older doctors because I believe I can better approach them better as equals, and because I think they’re more caring), but I don’t let my prejudices guide my decision making about whom to see. I also don’t hesitate to change doctors when I get one I don’t trust. Now that I’m on Medicare and have good supplementary insurance, I can afford to switch. Joe, I’m glad to see you’re back, and I admire you for coming back. It’s funny, but I’ve missed you.

Stephen Hayes said...

I sincerely hope this new doctor can help you control the pain. I can only imagine what you're going through and I'm sending positive thoughts your way for some relief from this pain. Take care.

Charles Gramlich said...

sorry you are suffering so much. My wife is going through some of this as well.

Ginny said...

I had an external tens unit (not for my back for a different area) and found that it didn't work very well for me and it was so expensive. Chronic pain is the worst. I hope they can figure something out.

Sparkling Red said...

Oh boo, ugh. I hope that the new meds are working well and relieving as much of your pain as possible.

In my experience (doctors in the family and in my work life) some of doctors get into pain medicine because they think it will be easy. No on-call nights, no long surgeries. It's a stable job with stable hours. And of course there is the danger of compassion burnout for those doctors who do start off well-intentioned, unfortunately.

Snowbrush said...

"some of doctors get into pain medicine because they think it will be easy."

It's also a high-paying specialty. I don't know how many druggies seek out pain specialists, but pain specialists tend to treat all patients as druggies. The one I just saw, I liked, him being the first.