A year or so ago i fell and hyperextended my back. Didn’t hurt much initially but i began to have what i thought was left hip pain a few months later. I saw my orthopedic guy.
I did the NSAIDS the topical analgesics, i had an injection both in the bursa and the hip joint itself. As the pain -burning really- crept done my left leg, it finally dawned on me i was having left sided sciatica. I had a lumbosacral MRI that confirmed spinal arthritis, a bulging disc and spinal stenosis impinging on the sciatic nerve. So, off i went to a back and pain center. I had 4 nerve root injections with steroids that offered limited relief. I then did 8 weeks of PT. At this point i was referred to the “back guy” in the practice.
He declared my problem a “surgical disease” and suggested decompression surgery. Fine, i was tired of the pain and interrupted sleep. I was scheduled for a bilateral foraminotomy (“might as well do both while i’m in there”) which would, hopefully enlarge the space where the nerve roots exit and provide relief. I had the surgery in early Feb.
Long story short (as if), all the pre-op stuff went well. I had a consult with the hospital pharmacist because the plan was to stay overnight with a PCA -patient controlled analgesia and be discharged in the am with my post op pain being managed. The surgeon said he likes to do overnight PCA’s so that his patients don’t get behind the pain curve. Sounded good to me.
Only that’s not what happened. Basically the floor nurse told me no PCA because “it was better to transition” me to oral meds. I told him the only reason i was staying overnight and had 2 IV’s placed was specifically for PCA pain control. He didn’t say it, but his attitude said tough shit and he brought me a Vicodin.
Here is where i failed myself. Because of the current hysteria about opioid use i didn’t feel like i could make a scene and insist because i did not want to be seen/labeled as a drug seeker. So, i swallowed my Vicodin, got nauseous, gratefully got some Zofram and decided i wasn’t going to ask that bastard for any other thing. Even if it killed me. I didn’t see him again until morning, before shift change, when he asked if i was in pain. By then it was bad. I told him yes but i didn’t want a damned thing from him and told him to get out. He asked again, why and i told him through gritted teeth that if i explained it to him i would end up YELLING. Pure rage. To his credit, he did say i could talk to the floor manager, which i refused (same reason – no yelling) and then he said i could sign myself out AMA (against medical advice) if i was unhappy. If i had any clothes and a ride i may have, but i don’t think insurance pays when you go AMA. I heard him give report to the day nurse outside in the hall and he told her didn’t understand why i was mad. I felt a kind of evil pleasure knowing he “didn’t know what” he did. Maybe it would make him think about the night. I did tell the day shift nurse so that someone would know and she told me she understood my anger.
I told my ortho guy the story as well as my therapist who works at the hospital in palliative care and my T said he told the floor manager. I sincerely hope this person follows up and contacts me. As may be obvious, i am still pissed off. I’m not interested in getting him fired but if this is the level of care nowadays regarding pain control, we are all in trouble
I do not deny that “we” have created a huge problem and it is deadly. However, if i can’t even advocate for myself, a former healthcare worker because of real or even imagined stigma, what in the hell can the average person expect. Not adequate pain control, it seems.