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When Doctors Accuse Chronic Pain Patients of Drug-Seeking

A few days back, I went on my weekly visit to my general practitioner, this time to ask for my well overdue pain medication prescription. This was because I had waited three months after my pain medication ran out to renew it due to many people telling me how “reliant” I am on them. I guess I just wanted to prove everybody wrong.

Nine times out of 10, the doctors I see are very understanding of the medication I take to help relieve a tiny percentage of my daily chronic pain. But for the first time the other day, I had a doctor challenge my need for pain relief, telling me I am addicted to medication and I should seek help for my drug problem. I actually began laughing at the doctor as she expressed her “concern” for me. This is because – due to the nature of my illnesses and my young age – there is little that even specialists can do for me now and for the rest of my life.

Of course, I wasn’t trying to be rude by laughing at the doctor – but I just do not understand how someone who has only just met me and knows little of what my illnesses are or mean for me can automatically assume I am drug-seeking because my illness isn’t immediately life-threatening. I mean, she even had to ask me what Ehlers-Danlos syndrome was, so how could she determine all I need is drug counseling?

I’m used to having to explain my complex medical needs and my health conditions to people, but when it comes to a medical professional I expect some faith in my diagnoses. In my 19 years of life, I have spent over a decade trying to find out what is “wrong with me.” Therefore, I am sadly used to being told that I am a liar or that my illnesses are just psychological and it is “all in my head.”

And it is still the case to this day, even when I have a formal diagnosis.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am incurable. In accepting this I have also come to realize that nobody has the right to try and sell me expensive yet ineffective treatments – especially not a medical professional – when it is not my attitude that needs changing. How am I supposed to get over the heartbreak that comes with knowing I won’t ever be healthy if medical professionals are insistent on making me “better?”  I have tried every single treatment option that is available to me, all of which have rendered me more useless than I was before.

An invisible illness does not automatically mean that the person it is attached to wants to be cured. It also doesn’t mean that I want to be somebody’s lab rat. I wish doctors could trust the people that walk into their office with diagnosed medical conditions needing their prescriptions. I am definitely not seeking drugs, and I do not want to be taking the pills either. Life for those of us who struggle with invisible conditions is not and never will be black and white, and all I can ever ask from a person is for them to believe and support me. And to anybody reading this article who is met by ignorance at the hands of those who know little to nothing of your conditions, just remember that your existence means you are creating more awareness for yourself and for those who lead a life similar to yours in a fight for a diagnosis.

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Thinkstock photo via Purestock.

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