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To the Nurse Who Told Me to Get a Psych Eval for My Chronic Pain

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Hi Nurse,

You probably don’t remember me, as I stopped going to the pain management clinic you work at after I talked to you. I went to my first appointment at your clinic late last May, as my pain became unbearable.

At this point, pain followed me around like a shadow and made my life incredibly miserable. Between daily migraines from my post-concussive syndrome, foot pain from plantar fasciitis and joint pain from my vasculitis, I am uncomfortable 99 percent of the time. I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t in pain, but I didn’t want to accept my severe pain levels. After speaking to my rheumatologist, we both agreed that going to a pain management clinic would be my best course of action. Or so we thought.

I came to your office open-minded because I really wanted to get the help I needed to feel better. I met the doctor, who was nice enough. I had some warning signs, like how the doctor didn’t recommend any medications and my primary and rheumatologist had to call your office about five times to get the evaluation. I still tried to have hope.

Before I started a new job in late June – that would only last a month – I called your office asking to get a follow-up appointment after I got home. I called again. And again. Your office finally picked up, and I happened to speak to you. At this point, I was crying because I was frustrated with how much pain I was in. I was frustrated because I felt like your office didn’t care enough to respond to my calls most of the time.

I asked if I could be seen within a week of being home, as I felt like my body was crushing itself. Instead of letting me know when my then-doctor would be next available, you told me I should go to the emergency room to get a psych evaluation. I told you that wouldn’t address my problems and hung up.

I don’t know your intent behind saying that, but I let you know how it made me feel. It took me years to get diagnosed with the rare disease I have called vasculitis. I was told constantly by medical professionals that I should get psych evaluations because they suggested that my symptoms were all in my head. When you said I should go to the ER to get a psych evaluation from my chronic pain, this brought back all my pent up frustration from this period of my life.

I spoke to my rheumatologist about this experience, and she told me she would not refer another patient to your clinic. My chronic pain is real, and I shouldn’t have to fight for it to be taken seriously.

Getty Image by nathaphat

Originally published: January 14, 2019
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