Anyone with a chronic pain condition can testify that the road to successful treatment can be somewhat of a minefield, when you have more than one condition. This minefield becomes even more chaotic when Doctors can only see one condition, and deny the possibility, or sheer presence of another. Case in point – I have CRPS in my left stump. I also have this other, yet to be diagnosed issue. I saw a lovely Doctor (finally!!) Who I must say, seemed a little out of his depth, but couldn’t see past the CRPS. No matter how many different ways I explained the different types of pain I’m in, he just kept going back to the CRPS. Frustration doesn’t cover how I felt! On the day, I had my wife with me; and my Blesma representative (amazing veterans amputee charity) wrote a detailed email prior to my appointment, explaining the circumstances. Yet with two advocates, he still seemed to be blinkered to the possibility of something else. I started to feel like an orange ribbon, like the emblem of CRPS charities, and that’s all people see. The prosthetists, the physio, and now the 1st Doctor I’ve seen face to face (other than my GP, who is amazing!).
I am a registered nurse, and throughout my career I have been used to the medical terminology used, and how things work within the NHS, and am yet to receive any tests, or treatments, or interventions of any kind. Instead, I’ve been passed from pillar to post, around the roundabout and house’s, getting nowhere! Meanwhile, the pain and effects of pain, are taking away the enjoyable parts of my life. So I can’t help but worry what happens to those who don’t have an advocate, or a realisation of what should be happening? It’s not easy to speak up, and describe your own condition when your Doctor is telling you that what you are saying is rubbish! When they can’t see past your ‘other’ condition; or are simply out of their depth. How many people out there are desperate? Desperate for treatment? Desperate for someone to listen; really listen to them, so they can have their pain investigated and have a chance of a meaningful life. I have been a nurse for 14 years and have had the privilege of working with some magnificent Doctors and specialists, but I know first hand that anyone can slip through the cracks, or be ignored, or even not believed! This, despite the mantra which all us care givers are taught to abide – “pain is what the patient says it is”. Not all health professionals remember this! Instead we often get labeled as ‘junkies who are just after medication’, or they sometimes go to the other end of the spectrum by medicating, and medicating some more; chucking a plaster over it, instead of diagnosing it!
How many people with pain conditions have reached the point of absolute frustration? If a person is telling their care giver that they are in pain, isn’t it their duty to investigate why? And to treat them. If they refuse to do so, or ignore them; isn’t this pure medical negligence? When, my Mum was in agony with a variety of conditions, she said to me “If I was a dog, they would put me down”, yet we are left, suffering! These people who are responsible for leaving us with such suffering are basically condemning us to death, One way or another! When your pain is horrific and no-one will listen, or help… what else can you do? I was extremely worried and shocked when I learnt that according to a web based survey, 20% of CRPS sufferers had attempted suicide, and 46.4% reported suicidal intentions. This is shockingly 6x higher than those with depression, according to a psychiatry study. With statistics such as these, for my condition alone; can Doctors really justify their ignorance to people who are in pain? I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. Especially with the pain of flare ups, and frustration of no intervention and poor treatment!
According to oatext.com, and I should imagine, anyone with a chronic pain condition – “chronic pain patients are at elevated risk of suicide”. Shouldn’t those who refuse to treat, refuse to listen, refuse to test, to diagnose, to intervene, be held accountable for their actions? Instead of leaving us to suffer? Shouldn’t they be referring us to those who do know how to treat our conditions? Those who may be interested! Isn’t that the definition of ‘proper care?’. Not condemning us to a life of suffering!