About a month ago I saw my doctor, a General Practitioner. It was just a routine appointment, although it quickly went from routine to fascinating when he said he had been wanting to talk to me. The result was that after two long years of debating with him my need for adequate pain medication, he finally agreed to prescribe some.
He had previously refused, in spite of acknowledging the level of pain I was experiencing from fibromyalgia, because he believed that my history of mental illness would mean that I would get addicted to the stuff and my mental health would suffer. One of my arguments was that my mental health was suffering already as a result of the pain I was in on a daily basis. For some reason unknown to me that argument seemed to count for nothing to him. It seemed that he didn’t accept it and so was only prepared to let me use over-the-counter medications. The problem with those is that they did nothing to relieve the pain, perhaps because they are designed to treat a different kind of pain. Our argument went on over the months. When I felt I had some fight in me I would raise the issue, but basically he was quite clear that he would never prescribe anything stronger and more appropriate.
Let me say at this point (in case you’re wondering) the easy thing to do would have been to change my doctor. For me though, that has some difficulties related to my past experiences of doctors. More about that in a future post… when I’m feeling brave.
In the meantime, what changed my doctor’s mind? It seems he felt a little backed into a corner. At an earlier appointment he had arranged for me to have some short-term counselling to deal with a specific unrelated issue that had been affecting my state of mind. It was only to be six sessions, which always seemed too short, but it was free and it was available. I had no other options and so I took up the offer.
I had seen the counsellor twice when I went to my doctor a month ago. That was what my doctor wanted to talk about. He proceeded to read out to me word-for-word something I had said to the counsellor, on my second visit, about my doctor’s refusal to treat me with pain medication. I was totally gobsmacked to find that the counsellor was giving my doctor a written report of my counselling sessions. This was not something I had been told about, nor had I given permission for him to share the details of my sessions with anyone.
That was the end of the counselling sessions. I guard my privacy carefully and I expect that when speaking to a counsellor or therapist that what I say will remain confidential. I accept that if I am at risk of hurting either myself or someone else then the counsellor may have to call in emergency services but I could never accept that my doctor needed to hear word-for-word what I said when I was no where near being in a crisis state.
Well that might have been the end of the counselling, but for some reason (he didn’t explain) my doctor didn’t appreciate what I had said to the counsellor, gave me a small lecture about “keeping secrets from him” (really?) and then handed me a prescription for medication to treat severe pain. Weird. It’s like he knew he was discriminating against me and was waiting to see how long he could get away with it.
I finally had my prescription! Yay! The only problem is that a month on I declare it totally useless for me. If my body is anywhere close to horizontal, the medication will put me to sleep (which is one way of dealing with pain) but it does absolutely nothing to take away the pain. Actually if anything the pain has been worse in the past couple of weeks. I wonder is he just giving me sugar pills (unlikely, I hope) or just a very small dose? This coming week I will be going back to my doctor to keep fighting. I have tried that drug but now I need another. The fight goes on.
Gotta love doctors (and counsellors) like him.
“Life isn’t as magical here, and you’re not the only one who feels like you don’t belong, or that it’s better somewhere else. But there ARE things worth living for. And the best part is you never know what’s going to happen next.”
― O.R. Melling, The Summer King