Some might think that the me most painful aspect of blogging and writing is coming up with something to say. At first, that was probably true. But once I started writing (not just here, but elsewhere online) it became clear to me that the real pain was listening to the sad stories of patients who are often ready to give up.
I received the following remark on one of my online articles recently. I publish it here without any editing (I added “Dear Honest Apothecary” just to make it clearer), along with my very inadequate reply. If “exhausted” should happen to read it, I want them to know I care and that they matter.
Here it is:
Dear Honest Apothecary,
After nearly three years of spinal problems that have “dominoed” from #1 down through the thoracic and into the lumbar, I’ve been on Norco 10/325 for two and a half of the three years. They’re essentially tictacs at this point, except they don’t freshen my breath.
I’ve gone from a restaurant manager to a Regional Account Manager with a major medical supply company, to a Regional Marketing Director with a nationwide home security company, to finally unemployed, unable to hold my head up. If I’m not in bed, I’m in excruciating pain. Even in bed, the pain is a 7/10.
I’m writing to thank you for being a support system for so many who, I guarantee, are treated much like I am- a simple drug addict with exaggerated “pain problems”. It’s hurtful, it’s degrading, it’s demeaning, it’s embarrassing, it’s shameful, and most importantly, it’s incorrect. I’m not a drug addict. I’m addicted to feeling well enough to mow the yard or do the dishes or be able to stand up long enough to shower once a day.
I’ve decided to quit, though, and give in to the temptation to finally end the pain. I’m fighting for disability so that I can sign the back pay check over to my fiance and then I can’t continue living in this much pain.
I could have just closed this webpage, which might have been smarter, but I want you to know that you’re doing something amazing by just talking to people without judging them. You’re not treating them like addicts, you’re treating them like people in pain.
Thank you. To anyone else who might read this- continue fighting through it, please. Talk to people that care and can help. Don’t quit like I am. Be stronger. Be better.
Good luck to all of you. I wish I could take all the pain with me, and I’m sorry I can’t.
What you have written convinces me that the work God has for you on this earth is not done. That was, by far, the most thoughtful and meaningful response I have ever received in my on-line writing career. Please don’t give up. If you can do what you just did for me, in spite of your pain, then you have a gift that should not be lost and one which this world desperately needs.
If working in medicine has taught me anything it has taught me this: If you have seen one doctor (or pharmacist, or nurse, etc) then you have seen one doctor. That’s it. Everyone is different. There are no medical cookie-cutters out there. Every professional has unique insights and you shouldn’t give up until you have seen them all. Someone else out there might offer you help that you have not yet experienced. It happens all the time.
Life, even a painful life, is a gift. Some of us forget that and we shamefully take for granted our pain-free existence. You have taught me that lesson afresh.
Please reach out to me via email, as I would love to learn more about your situation and encourage you to use your gift to bless others as you have blessed me.