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Pain Patients as second class citizens...

i couldn't have said this any better...from Hamilton Ontario Newspaper...link below

Pain patients as second-class citizens

Agencies, hospitals, MDs, government don’t help without a fight

Being a pain specialist makes me feel valued. Patients trust me.

However, being a patient with chronic pain, as I also am, makes me feel like a second-class citizen. I am instantly transported from being a useful human being to being perceived as useless and unimportant. I have seen the same thing happen to many of my patients.

Often, this starts in the home. Family members get tired of having someone around who cannot do what they use to and who refuses to get better.

Because patients do not have an outward sign of pain and suffering, other people do not understand what they are feeling. They see a person who looks normal, but who is behaving abnormally.

It is not surprising that many families split apart when one member develops chronic pain. Most of us never understand what “for better or worse” means until we have to face the “worse.” Some of us want our money back. We did not expect the worse to be this bad.

This rejection of people with chronic pain becomes generalized outside of the home. It spreads to friends, work and organizations that are supposed to help us.

If a person has had a work-related injury or is hurt in a car accident, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or auto insurance is supposed to help. Sometimes this does not happen. The relationship with these organizations can become characterized by years of struggle.

Even if a person ultimately “wins” their case, they will never be compensated for their loss and for the suffering that has been inflicted by the organization that was supposed to help.

This indifference to people with chronic pain has spread to health care.

Many of my patients have been turned away by other doctors. Excuses for this behaviour include that the patient is too complicated. I assumed our job includes treating people with complex problems. It is not their fault.

The most absurd excuse I ever heard was a colleague saying he would only see pain patients if a lawyer asked because these patients take a lot of time.

The real reason is that he makes more money if a lawyer is involved. I recently saw this same doctor at a meeting about chronic pain patients. I had no idea what he was doing there, but I am sure there is a buck in it for him somewhere.

I once saw a surgeon who told me my back hurt because I had pulled something. Three months later, I was having my sixth back surgery that allowed me to get back to work.

I guess the first surgeon was wrong. Worse still, he did not seem to care.

This type of interaction occurs over and over again for patients with chronic pain. The problem is that we frustrate doctors. We do not get better. In fact, I will never get better and the likelihood is I will get worse. This does not mean that I do not need help.

It just means I need a different kind of help than many doctors are capable of giving. People like me need the kind of help that is not focused on a cure, but is focused on helping me maintain as much of my life as possible.

The problem is that most doctors are not trained to do this.

Last, but not least, there is the provincial government. I have never received a helping hand from a government agency in my work. However, right now my Ennis Centre for Pain Management is the only program in this area that offers treatment to people who cannot pay for it.

I subsidize their treatment on my own. I do this without the benefit of government funding. This goes on while our own local hospitals, which are government funded, refuse to treat these same patients in their behavioural chronic pain programs.

The best thing that a patient with my kind of problems can do is wake up tomorrow and be all better. That is not likely to happen. All that I, and people like me can do is fight the injustices that we see.

If a doctor has been callous, complain to their college.

If your workplace, the WSIB or your auto insurance is being unfair, find a good lawyer.

If the government is not supportive, vote them out the first chance you get.

Truthfully, there is nothing that makes me feel as close to normal as when I get involved in a good fight. It reminds me of my misspent youth. Bring it on.

Dr. Jeffrey H. Ennis is medical director, The Ennis Centre for Pain Management (formerly East End Multidisciplinary Pain Management Program) in Hamilton. www.enniscentre.com

Pain patients as second-class citizens

Agencies, hospitals, MDs, government don’t help without a fight

Being a pain specialist makes me feel valued. Patients trust me.

However, being a patient with chronic pain, as I also am, makes me feel like a second-class citizen. I am instantly transported from being a useful human being to being perceived as useless and unimportant. I have seen the same thing happen to many of my patients.

Often, this starts in the home. Family members get tired of having someone around who cannot do what they use to and who refuses to get better.

Because patients do not have an outward sign of pain and suffering, other people do not understand what they are feeling. They see a person who looks normal, but who is behaving abnormally.

It is not surprising that many families split apart when one member develops chronic pain. Most of us never understand what “for better or worse” means until we have to face the “worse.” Some of us want our money back. We did not expect the worse to be this bad.

This rejection of people with chronic pain becomes generalized outside of the home. It spreads to friends, work and organizations that are supposed to help us.

If a person has had a work-related injury or is hurt in a car accident, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or auto insurance is supposed to help. Sometimes this does not happen. The relationship with these organizations can become characterized by years of struggle.

Even if a person ultimately “wins” their case, they will never be compensated for their loss and for the suffering that has been inflicted by the organization that was supposed to help.

This indifference to people with chronic pain has spread to health care.

Many of my patients have been turned away by other doctors. Excuses for this behaviour include that the patient is too complicated. I assumed our job includes treating people with complex problems. It is not their fault.

The most absurd excuse I ever heard was a colleague saying he would only see pain patients if a lawyer asked because these patients take a lot of time.

The real reason is that he makes more money if a lawyer is involved. I recently saw this same doctor at a meeting about chronic pain patients. I had no idea what he was doing there, but I am sure there is a buck in it for him somewhere.

I once saw a surgeon who told me my back hurt because I had pulled something. Three months later, I was having my sixth back surgery that allowed me to get back to work.

I guess the first surgeon was wrong. Worse still, he did not seem to care.

This type of interaction occurs over and over again for patients with chronic pain. The problem is that we frustrate doctors. We do not get better. In fact, I will never get better and the likelihood is I will get worse. This does not mean that I do not need help.

It just means I need a different kind of help than many doctors are capable of giving. People like me need the kind of help that is not focused on a cure, but is focused on helping me maintain as much of my life as possible.

The problem is that most doctors are not trained to do this.

Last, but not least, there is the provincial government. I have never received a helping hand from a government agency in my work. However, right now my Ennis Centre for Pain Management is the only program in this area that offers treatment to people who cannot pay for it.

I subsidize their treatment on my own. I do this without the benefit of government funding. This goes on while our own local hospitals, which are government funded, refuse to treat these same patients in their behavioural chronic pain programs.

The best thing that a patient with my kind of problems can do is wake up tomorrow and be all better. That is not likely to happen. All that I, and people like me can do is fight the injustices that we see.

If a doctor has been callous, complain to their college.

If your workplace, the WSIB or your auto insurance is being unfair, find a good lawyer.

If the government is not supportive, vote them out the first chance you get.

Truthfully, there is nothing that makes me feel as close to normal as when I get involved in a good fight. It reminds me of my misspent youth. Bring it on.

Dr. Jeffrey H. Ennis is medical director, The Ennis Centre for Pain Management (formerly East End Multidisciplinary Pain Management Program) in Hamilton. www.enniscentre.com

Discussion started by dianejw , on 1120 days ago

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