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Does any one else feel like they are being treated like a druggie?

immyaliimmyali Posts: 399
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a car accident two years ago hence the back problem, I have been on Oxycontin 60mg bd, panadeine forte prn, endone (or equivalent), anti-depressant plus a few others on and off for over two years.

I had my ALIF L5/S1 on 17th August, which initially I was doing well with, but on the weekend I was sitting watching my husband and kids play follow the leader outside when my hubby comically hit his head on the swings and I laughed, since then the pain in my back has been pretty unbearable and the pain down my right leg is excrutiating. Hubby reckons God Smote me.

Any my gp was already starting to get antsy about all the medications i'm on and has questioned whether my reasons for taking them are more emotionally based than physically. He is putting strict time limits on when I can have more prescribed and i'm really starting to feel like a druggie.

The thing is even though i'm in a lot of pain at present i'm not feeling depressed. I don't feel that i'm needing the drugs for emotional reasons (other than the anti-depressant obviously). I genuinely feel I need the pain meds for pain and right now I need more than i'm getting.

Does anyone else feel like they are being treated like a druggie? How do I get through to my gp that i'm genuine and not a druggie?

Any advise would be appreciated.

P.S. Mr Pond fisher,if you read this. i've been meaning to say that I enjoy reading your posts you are truly a breath of fresh air. You have a way of viewing the world which is truly unique. I'm australian, and if I didn't know better i'd swear you were an Aussie too, you'd fit right in down here. Please keep posting you make the world a better place


  • A lot of people are referred to a pain management doctor after their surgeon is finished with them. They have a better understanding of the pain that lingers after back surgery and might be more willing to prescribe medications.

    I have heard others make the same comments you are making. I'm sure it just depends on the patient and on the particular doctor. I guess you'll need to ask your doctor why he is treating you this way and convince him that you are still in pain from your surgery.

    I was on pain meds for 10 weeks after my PLIF...and I do not feel that is unusual. My 88-year old MIL, who had the same surgery, had one pain pill, didn't like the way it made her feel, and did without...so it is an individual thing!!
  • Gwennie made a good point about most patients being referred to a pain management doc. It is very common for GP's to not fully understand the needs of someone suffering chronic pain and even more common for them to be uncomfortable prescribing narcotic pain meds for more than just a few days.

    Keep your head up and eyes open and quit allowing yourself to feel like a druggie. When a doc doesn't understand your needs and places tighter restrictions on your meds, it doesn't automatically mean that the doc thinks you are a druggie.

    I would caution you, that if you feel as if you are being seen or treated as a druggie, then take a good hard look in the mirror and make sure you can look yourself in the eye and know that you are not.

    The reason I say that, is because it is very easy to project that image of yourself where other's will pick up on it. Children, spouses, friends and docs, can all pick up on that whether they can figure out what "it" is or not.

    Explore your options and see if possibly your GP is willing to give you a Pain Management referral/

  • Hi Immyali :)))

    Yes, I've felt the same during this last year, and not sure if this is an Aussie situation. For pain, I've been on Oxycontin, but trying to get enough to control it, has been a nightmare. The authorities are so worried about addiction. My surgery is scheduled for next month, and I'm worried about not being able to get enough pain meds afterwards. From what I understand, the anaesthetist or surgeon is supposed to look after your needs, but I ended up having to go to my GP who has limited prescribing power. Over here, we have pain clinics within the public hospitals, but it takes two months to get in for an assessment. The other pain specialists are basically anaesthetists and don't deal with all aspects of pain management, and then you still have to wait several weeks for an appointment.

    Would I be right in thinking that people in the US get a better deal than we do here in Australia?

    Immalyi, it's not that long since your op and you shouldn't have to suffer needlessly, so I'd ask your GP for a referral to a hospital pain clinic before you get too low on your medication.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • None of us should suffer needlessly. The previous posters said it all, I have nothing to add but that I have been thinking of your recocery. You have young children, right? Wearing a back brace? My 2 level ALIF is scheduled for Jan. and I'm just wondering how you are coping with the little ones. This is my toughest hurdle when I think of the recovery. There are a million and one things a mom has to do that I will have to rely on others.
    You can PM me or post here.
  • I can understand your issue!!! I had a discectomy/laminectomy on 2 different levels 4wks ago. I seemed to have been doing great with the recovery until my ortho surgeon told me to walk.... so i did. An hour later I was in a lot of pain and called my surgeon. I told him before all of this that the darvocet I had been taking for pain was not working, let alone right now when I am in a whole lot of pain. He refused to call me back and help me. When I finally did get a hold of him via email, he told me that it was my fault and he would not change the pain medication (he also spoke to me in an inappropriate manner and refuse to take constructive criticism regarding his office personnel). He has treated me like a druggie since then. He seems to think that I had the surgery and now I should be fine and pain free! Totally not the case at all!!! I have since then filed a complaint and am in the process of switching doctors. A patient post surgery should never feel guilty or be treated poorly for talking to their doctors regarding pain medication! It's part of western medicine and if controlled. very effective!
  • I changed neurosurgeons when my neck acted up very painfully after two lumbar surgeries. I had to get a chiro to do an MRI for me, since my old NS wouldn't do anything. My GP sent me to a Neurosurgeon for nerve study tests, which showed, like the MRI, that I had a hernitated disc at C5/6. My new NS promptly did ACDF surgery in June. Since my GP had given me a mailorder script for 3 months of Lortab 7.5/500, I had pain meds throughout the time period it took to go thru the tests and get to the surgery point. After surgery, I never really got better and I had enough pain meds to cover half of the two months to the next surgery, but had to ask the new NS for a new script. Their policy is to only call in scripts for 30 pills at a time with no refills. So when you run out you have to leave a message asking for another 30 pills. Sorry to make this so long. But now that my mailorder has expired and I've had another surgery on 8/24, I've had to call in for more pain meds. The pharmacy I use is a home grown type and the pharmist has already given me the 9th degree due to my insurance telling him that I had a mailorder script and they wouldn't pay for another fill until days after one of the callins. He wouldn't let me pay for it upfront. He kept saying I had no more fills, but I had the callin from my surgeon on his paperwork. He just wasn't going to let me the pills any earlier than what the insurance said I could have them. This weekend being a holiday weekend, they were trying to make sure that I didn't run out and the pharmacy was closed Sat-Mon holiday. He made me feel like a druggie, which as one poster said could just have been my own feelings I've placed on myself, because I "need" the meds.

    I have noticed myself taking them even when I wasn't hurting that bad, but knew if I let off the pain would ramp up. I also know after taking them for over a year now straight that I will go thru some kind of detox??? So far today I haven't taken any pain meds or muscle relaxers and the pain across my shoulders and in my neck is pretty bad. It's more tolerable than before surgery, but I can't do things I shouldn't. I can't even do things that I should be doing. I guess I'm tired of feeling some strange needing pain meds. It's hard enough admitting that you have chronic pain with your pride, much less having to ask weekly for pain meds. Sorry I'm still long winded. It's just that this subject has just been fore-front to me this weekend and today and I wanted to respond. I'm scared of having some detox reactions and have no clue if I can stand it, but I'm going to try and see what happens.

    BTW, I've never gotten any great awe-inspiring drug high taking the stupid pain meds. If anything, I've felt like crap while taking them, don't sleep well, and have paid a high pain price during surgeries to get pain relief, since my tolerance was higher. I've also had a gastric bypass and don't think they last the prescribed time either due to not having a true stomach anymore.

    Good luck with your issues. I've been to a PM doc before I had my first back surgery and he pushed the steriod epidurals at $400 out of pocket each time and two days burned laying around and helped nothing for me. He also would never give me anything other than tramadol/ultram. I guess I looked too good going in (I don't show my pain). I'm a grin and bear it type of person. I don't wear makeup, but I never go out without somehow fixing my hair and looking decent. My eyes show it, my energy level is nil, and I move slow getting up/down.
  • That I have a cage in my L4/5 space that migrated into the spinal canal some, like a bulging disc, but it's metal. My previous NS said it wouldn't cause a problem, but he did the revision surgery to add hardware to L3 thru L5 since my L3/4 was movable by him when he went thru the back to do the revision. He left the cages where they were. My xrays and MRI show the one metal cage jutted out and some kind of spurring starting over it. It feels like the BMP has grown bone around it. I have bladder problems and some sciatia and aching pain in my hips and low back. My neck, C6/7 is bone on bone and C7/T1 has a midline bulge. My fused C5/6 has a bone spur still that is into the cord area.

    My point is that I have medical issues that would cause pain in anyone, so should I not take pain meds? Just like everyone here, we have issues, are we supposed to grin and bear it, or go in screaming across the physicians desk to make sure he/she understands it hurts! I just don't know. This pain med issue is really getting to me. I don't want to be addicted, but feel that I am just because I do have pain. Can I live with the pain, yes, but can I handle two kids, work, and have any kind of quality of life if I don't take something to dull it out? I absolutely hate that pain meds are associated with the word "druggie" or "high" or "for pleasure".

    Okay, I feel better now. :)
  • Thankfully I've never been made to feel like that but I do feel a little strange about discussing pain medications. It does help that my doctor knows my pain is real and we have built a good relationship in the few years that I've been to pain mgt.

    I don't worry about going to the pharmacy to fill my meds either because they know me and what's going on with me.

    I agree that pain specialists are much better qualified than family doctors when it comes to prescribing narcotics and managing chronic pain. I do understand that in certain cases some people don't have access to a pain clinic and fortunately their GP will help out.

    See if you can have a discussion with your doctor to clear the air. I hope things work out for you. Take care
  • My pain management Dr is really ticking me off. I go in half way thru the month to tell him I was not getting enough relief from the measly 5mg oxycodone (3x a day) and he made me give a urine sample to make sure I had it in my system. He tells me to up my dosage to 1 1/2 pills but to try to take them only one to two times a day. So when I call 4 days before my appointment to let them know I did not have enough to make it, I have to explain to the nurse that he upped my dosage, then she calls to tell me he has called in 6 loratab 7.5. I guess since I had the drugs in my system and wasn't selling them, I must be trying to get high off of them. I am going to have a back up plan for a new pain management doc because I have a feeling he is really going to tick me off Friday. By the way I have spinal stenosis, ddd, spondylethosis and scoliosis and am trying to hold off until January 2010 before I have my fusion.
  • we do have pain management doctors/clinics in Australia of sorts, but they used in two different ways.
    1. As a rehabilitation clinic where you see a pain specialist, physio, psych and physical rehab specialist and they develop a program for you to "rehabilitate". I tried this one and failed bismally, it made my pain worse
    2. A clinic/specialist you can consult on a once in a while basis where they make recommendations of what you should be on to your gp and then it's up to your gp to follow this up or not.

    I think it's probably time for me to return to the latter. I have been a few times before, but not for some time, so it's probably a good idea for me to go back and be reviewed so I get less resistance from my gp.

    But thanks for all your responses, it makes me feel a little more sane and normal.

    I have looked at myself in the mirror a lot and there have been times that i've questioned myself hard, being an ex-nurse i'm well aware of the risks. This I know, Yes i'm physically addicted to my pain meds. After all I've been on them for two years. No i'm not mentally addicted, as they have more negatives in my life and my families life than positives.

    But I agree, it's worth having a look in that mirror regularly. :)
  • Is most of your pain in your back or in your legs?
  • I am no more addicted to the meds - than a diabetic is addicted to insulin. For the diabetic, they need it to live, for me, the lessened pain allows me to move my body.

    My GP has drug tested me, to prove that I was on them too, they need to prove to themselves that they are not being lied to.

  • Most of my pain is in my hip and leg. I have tried many of the meds such as nueronten, gaba-wahatever, lyrica with no success. My back pain is controlled well with the oxy or loratab, but at such a low dose, my hip and leg pain return after a couple of hours. Maybe I should go ahead and have the surgery, but I was really hoping to wait until January.
  • Oh, I absolutely understand thier situation and the types of people they run into in this field, and that they must do to limit thier liability. I was not offended to give a urine sample, I was offended when I felt like I was begging for a fix and they threw me 6 loratabs for 3 and 1/2 days.If he had done the simple math, he would have realized I couldn't have enough for the rest of the month. I am begining to wonder how he can think I am not in pain when he has the mri report. And he also asked me at my last visit if I thought I should see a surgeon. At my initial meeting I explained my plan, that I was going to have surgery but wanted to wait until January. Come Friday at 1pm I imagine I will be in tears from the pain and very aggitated. I think our visit may be uncomfortable for him.
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