I know so often we hear about
horrible doctor visits and such, and today I had a great visit with my pain doctor .
I've been going to the Integrative Pain Center of Arizona for the past few months. I have to say that by far they are the best pain clinic I have been to. I saw a doctor there on my first visit who did a really good exam, he had an actual pharmacist in with him so that they could discuss medication options with me, for me. Not here's what everyone takes, take this. I've had gastric bypass surgery so my stomach handles pills a little different than a normal tummy would. I liked this doctor.
Well I get a phone call two days before my follow up appointment with him saying he was out on medical leave and I could see a physicians assistant instead. I didn't see another choice so I said okay.
I've realized I really like this woman I've been seeing since. I've seen a lot of pain doctors and doctors in the past eight years since I hurt my back. It seems to be so rare to find a pain doctor who doesn't see you as just another patient. She comes in, and actually remembered me from my last visit. She remembered before even seeing my chart - that I was in a really bad place physically and mentally last month, and remarked about
how much better I looked. She also seemed happy that I was feeling better.
She takes the time with me to ask me how my pain is doing. She asks how the meds are working, what side effects I'm dealing with, she asks me if I feel the pain meds are working well enough. Do I feel that I need more medication? Am I happy with how things are going. Do I have any questions?
It was so funny because she asked how the medication was working for me. I told her I guessed. She asked how I was handling the medication since this flare has been so bad. How much was I taking? I told her that I took up to four a day, what I was prescribed. She asked if I took less on some days, which some I do, if I don't need four I don't take four. She seemed confused, and asked if I had extra pills - which I did. She then asked me if I was taking more than four on days my back was really bad, which I don't. I guess that was a shocking thing for her to here. I told her I was told up to four a day, so I take up to four a day. She then let me know that it's okay for me to take up to six a day if I have extra and the pain warrants it. I'm also allowed to take two at one time if needed. She also told me that if at some point I felt I needed more, to let her know. I guess I was shocked more than she was. Both she and the intern pharmacist she had with her were surprised that I wasn't taking pills from other days on days the pain was really bad.
Last month when I went in to see her, she asked to seem me back in a month. Well I'm taking Kadian, a long acting morphine, every twelve hours. They couldn't fit me in until today, and my Kadian ran out on Thursday night. So, on Thursday I had to make the hour and a half drive down to Tucson to get my script
s, then the drive home. Then do it again today. For them the script
s are auto printed every 28 days, you go in fill out a form in your file, they verify some stuff, that's it, if all your doing is a script
pick up. Well, she said she was going to go get my script
and I told her I had to get it on Thursday because I didn't have enough to last the four days, because they couldn't get me in soon enough. She wasn't happy about
it, she said she could understand that with a patient that lived in Tucson, and it wasn't a major trip, but for those that it is a huge effort, and those living far away it's not acceptable. She went with me to sign out, and had the receptionist's put a mark in my file that I get fit in before my script
s run out, so I don' thave to drive that trip again. I know it's such a small thing, but it meant something to me. It seems so rare to find a doctor that understands that just the trip to see them and/or pick up script
s can be a HUGE ordeal.
They've told me that I'm not going to be pain free, they've also told me not to expect miracles, but I know that they are truly working to try to help me. I've had so many horrible pain doctors, and doctors in general, and it meant going through a lot of bad ones to find this place, but I'm glad I did. After reviewing my file and doctors notes, they also didn't make me jump through hoops to get medication. They reviewed my file, and saw I've done trigger point injections, I've done physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and they were nice enough to not make me do it for them all over again. Every other doctor has done a "well lets try my (injections/therapist/etc)".
She's also taking the time to look at films, and research, and ask others about
treatment for me. She's not sure if an epidural will help, so I was told at the next meeting she would have my films and records out, and ask for input. She's also going to do the same thing about
my possibly going back to a neurosurgeon.
Another thing that I liked, especially knowing how busy that office is, is she told me that she realizes my medications are working well. BUT, she knows I'm in a flare, and she's concerned about
how my nerve pain and problems seem to be getting worse. She said that I don't have to, but she would like to see me once a month to keep track of things for a bit longer. She ASKED me! That to me was huge.
She also asked me if I minded going to see a psychologist. I guess they have one on staff, not for counseling, more for helping teach you ways to cope. Helping you deal with acceptance and anger at the hand you've been dealt. She said he helps you deal with getting around having one good day, where you try to fit everything in because it may be the only time you can, that makes you suffer for the next week, stuff like that. She ASKED me again if I wanted to. I told her the truth, I'll try anything.
I also told her it reminded me of figuring out a way to accept the fact that my body is trying to commit suicide without my permission. She actually laughed at that. The truth is that's how I feel sometimes.
Anyways, I just wanted to share. It feels great to finally feel that there is a doctor out there who genuinely cares about
how I feel. They care about
my opinions, and how I think things are going for me. It's not a grumpy "your here for refills, bye" thing. After soo many bad doctors it's such a huge relief.
For those that live in Arizona - the "Integrative Pain Center of Arizona" is located in Tucson - you can google them too. I know they won't be magic for everyone, heck it might just be for me, but it just feels good to say I've found a team that gets me, and really wants to help ME, not their pocket books.