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When the Nurse Administering My Meds Accused Me of Not Actually Being in Pain

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Having chronic pain, I am used to hiding my pain flares behind a smile. It becomes second nature since most pain medication has little effect on me unless intravenously administered.

I will never forget when I had three surgeries in four days and a chest tube placed – my body’s normal pain levels were even more through the roof. I lay in the hospital with medication in my IV and several caring nurses attending to me until day four.


A new nurse came in and changed my medication to my “as needed” medication. I kept calm, explaining that was not the correct medication and I would not take it because it would not help on its own. I was breathing very slowly, trying not to cry from the intense pain I was in. The nurse proceeded to tell me, “Since you’re refusing this medication, you must not be in pain.”

It was like a punch to the stomach to hear a healthcare professional who was supposed to be caring for me for 12 hours doubting my pain and struggling. She refused to notify my doctors of any problems I was having.

This broke my trust in the healthcare system. It only takes one bad egg to shatter all the good work every other professional does.

Too often, pain patients are not believed because of recent “drug abuse crisis” or because our pain is not textbook. So we are left to struggle, or we are degraded by medical personnel, which in itself is abuse of a patient. That abuse may leave many pain patients reluctant to go to the hospital until their pain is so out of control it is almost impossible to get back under control – all because they do not want to be abused by being called a “drug-seeker” or being accused of not being in pain.

I fired the nurse who called me a liar about my pain. Finally, a charge nurse came in, and she said something very true: “The pain is what the patient says it is. If a patient says they are in severe pain, they are. We don’t feel their pain.”

Advocate for yourself and know the good nurses outweigh the bad.

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Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia.

Originally published: August 30, 2017
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