Monday, October 12, 2015

The Whims of Doctors

I'm slogging along rather steadily, I think.

I had a dream the other night that I thought was kind of funny when I woke. In the dream I'd painted my nails perfectly, then ruined them. Then I cleaned the kitchen spotlessly, only to find it covered in flour and garbage when I looked back. This is clearly a dream about futility and feeling like I never really get anywhere, but when I woke up, my nails were perfectly painted and my kitchen was pretty darn clean, so it actually made me feel kind of good about myself, instead of anxious or frustrated like one would imagine.

I had some visitors last week, and I am only now recovering, but it was wonderful to see the youngest member of my family (a 2 month old baby girl) and the oldest (my 77 year old grandfather), and a few others whose ages are utterly unremarkable but with whom it was still a pleasure to visit.

The summer heat is waning, we'll have a few more very warm days, but my head is definitely feeling the ease in the intensity of the weather. Not that I'm much more active, but at least my head's not throbbing like a stubbed toe half the day. That kind of pain is exhausting.

I have a health related anecdote of a slightly different nature today, because it's not about me. My boyfriend has chronic back and neck problems. He's had surgeries, shots, adjustments, massages, and he manages the pain with narcotics. The pills aren't great for the body, but being totally sedentary and depressed is worse, so he takes them and gets regular blood tests to keep an eye on how the drugs are affecting his liver, kidneys, etc. He's had a history of doctors giving him a hard time and putting him on "pain contracts" (which is a srsly fucked up name, like we have any control over our pain, it should be called a pill contract, or a "my quality of life is subject to the whims of my doctors" contract). They've accused him of lying and selling his pills, they've cut him off cold turkey, subjected him to endless pee tests, and of course, there's the numbing repetition of having to justify himself to yet another new doctor, or worse, the same doctor at nearly every visit.

It's amazing, however, how little hassle he gets when I come with him to appointments. I sit quietly, only speak up rarely, and am usually half checked-out with my phone or some crochet, but the appointments go faster, he gets less questioning, and I have never, EVER witnessed him being denied drugs for pain. Literally, I accompanied him on his last visit for refills and it was ten minutes and a blood test. The only reason I came with him is because on the one previous, which I did not attend, he was threatened (with withdrawal of care and meds), harassed, and denied his medication for a week.

I don't understand why my presence makes a difference. Sure, I'm a witness to his pain, a second voice to support his; and I suppose I'm also a witness to what happens in the room, an unaffected party whose word might be more weighty in matters of medical negligence. Of course, I could just as easily be his accomplice in the pill scamming trade (I'm not), but maybe I've just got one of those trustworthy faces.

And what's worse, if it's this hard for a nearly 40 year old white dude to get medical care for chronic pain, I can't imagine the struggle people of color are dealing with. Our health care system sucks, you guys. Obamacare made it better, but it's still so lacking.