Going to the Emergency Room When My Pain Is 'Too Much'
Most of the time when we are in pain we can take some paracetamol or ibuprofen and the pain dies down. Or if it is particularly bad, we may use opiates such as codeine or tramadol. But what happens when these painkillers do not get rid of the pain? When taking a handful of painkillers is basically like swallowing a handful of smarties?
That’s what life with fibromyalgia is like. I am in constant pain that is not relieved by traditional painkillers, and even the atypical medications prescribed barely touch the surface. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been told to exercise or meditate instead of taking painkillers. As if these are the magic cure to the excruciating pain experienced by people with chronic illnesses. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been told this pain is “all in my head” and no one could possibly be in this much pain all the time, or even that I’m too young to be in this much pain. This pain is not in my head – it is very, very real. I would not be asking for help if I didn’t think I needed it. I would not be asking for increasingly stronger painkillers if I had not tried everything in my power to avoid it.
I only go to the emergency room when I am absolutely desperate. When I have taken a concoction of medications that would knock most people out. It is very rare when in the ER to find a doctor who understands chronic pain. The trouble with emergency medicine is that they want to find out what is wrong and cure it. The trouble with me is, I already know what is wrong and there is no cure. I just need pain management. But the ER is an absolute last resort, for when I’m sitting in my room in so much pain I cannot bear it anymore. But when I get to the emergency room no one knows what to do with me.
I have a care plan in place that has been set by the Pain Clinic. It states if I attend the ER I am to have IV paracetamol and morphine and to be treated in a kind and understanding manner. You might find it strange that my care plan says “to be treated in a kind and understanding manner;” however, I have been treated so appallingly by some staff that this statement is necessary. I’ve been called an attention-seeker, a drug-seeker and a manipulator. None of these are true. I do not want your attention, I just want you to help me. If I could get by without any drugs then of course I would. Just because I cry and say I wish I was dead does not mean I am manipulative. I come to the ER when I have no other option, when I am desperate. Just because you cannot see my illness does not make it any less real.
The other problem is many doctors do not believe fibromyalgia is a real illness. These views tend to come from older doctors as, when they were trained, illnesses such as fibromyalgia had not been discovered or were still very rare. These doctors are often under the understanding that fibromyalgia is “all in the patient’s head” and that they need psychological help. Of course there are always exceptions to this, and I have found a few older doctors who are understanding and a few younger doctors who do not understand fibromyalgia. All I ask is that when I turn up to the emergency room, I am treated with respect and kindness. That I am not labelled as a drug-seeker, but am instead given the relevant pain medications and cared for like any other patient.
I am so very thankful for the NHS and all the understanding and kind doctors I have seen. I dread to think where I would be without the help of the NHS. This post is not to negate the great work these doctors do, it is simply to explain a side of the NHS not many people see.
Until next time,
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Thinkstock photo via NilsBV.