I’ll spare you the long story (you can read it here, if you really want to), but about a year ago I woke up in the middle of the night with my stomach in total agony. Not my guts, not my intestines or colon, but my stomach: that little fist-sized guy who normally rests comfortably behind the arch of your southernmost ribs. It was fried chicken, come to realize, and it was likely my gallbladder, said a few doctors.
A year ago, one stuck a tube down my throat and into my stomach, looked around and found nothing of major note. The next doctor took some blood and scheduled me for an ultrasound and in the meantime, the blood work came back negative. Dylan and I traveled to see some friends in Ohio and while there, I ate a thing that brought on another attack at 1 am (this makes like, six? Seven in a year?) and after some meds and time, the pain didn’t go away. I went to the ER and after the nine hours spent waiting and not sleeping, found that their ultrasound, CT, urine, and blood work also came back negative.
Can you give me something for the pain for when this happens again, doc? No. No prescribing scheduled class drugs out of the ER, too many drug seekers. But I’m not a drug seeker, I said. You have all my pee and blood, you can see there’s nothing in there. Doctor shrugs.
So after the doc in the ER tried to tell me it was a UTI and kidney stones, and then gave me an antibiotic as well as a scrip for extra high dose ibuprofen (NSAIDs are big no-nos when stomachs are causing problems for people), they sent me on my way. I filled neither prescription, even I without a degree in medicine, knew they were wrong.
Today I met with a Gastroenterologist. She too agreed that it sounded exactly like gallbladder and I fit all the parameters to make that fit. But true, the prior tests all came back without proof and there was only one more test left to do. If that is negative too, then the real head scratching begins and I meet with a surgeon anyway. They’re going to inject me with radioactivity and watch it run through my gallbladder to see if and where it gets hung up since one test did say it was distended (which usually happens with stones, but they didn’t see stones). If it does, in any way, that friggin’ organ of annoyance is coming out. Until then, if it decides to freak out and hurt me again, what can I do?
She offered a low dose pain med, one that I know works since I have this weird genetic thing that renders a lot of pain meds useless but for the one we discussed. I checked out with the receptionist and waited for the paper scrip to come. The medical assistant came around the corner sheepishly… the doctor isn’t comfortable writing a scrip for that drug until he sees you experience that pain. I said, but it happens at 2 or 3 am. How will that ever work out? She agreed, said she wished it was different, and walked away. ARG. The doctor that handed that denial down btw, has never met me.
I got home and emailed my doctor to let him know that I’d gone to the appointment and another test was upcoming. I let him know that they too, would not write a pain script and asked him what I should do. I ended by asking him if I should see a pain specialist (which both goes over his head and absolves him, but what pain specialist is going to help me with all these negative tests?) and now I wait to hear. I just want to tell them, give me five pills! I’ll break them in half! This happens rarely enough that will last me for months, come on you guys.
As we know, this all comes from the rampant abuse of opioids, the over-prescribing of them, and the proliferation of pills instead of weed or any other option. If I liked weed, if it worked for me, I’d just go that route. Lord knows it’s infinitely easier to come by than pain pills are, clearly. So thanks, scared doctors, the DEA, dealers, and junkies. I’ll think of you all when it’s 2:30 am and I can barely stand life.