Monday, February 04, 2008

Pain Killers

This weekend, in addition to suffering through the Patriots Super Bowl loss, I also had to battle through another bought of the mysterious jaw malady "TMJ". Back in October, I spent a Saturday night in the emergency room when thousands of milligrams of ibuprofen failed to relieve my intense jaw pain. I made trips to the dentist and trips the doctor before the late night emergency room doctor finally proscribed me a pain killer strong enough to take care of the pain. After suffering on and off for a week, I spent a Sunday taking oxycodone, and the pain diminished and didn't come back. That is until last week, when the jaw pain started to return. It grew stronger and stronger, reaching a crescendo during the Super Bowl. Once again, ibuprofen and aspirin were not enough. When I got home, I took one of the few oxycodone pills I had from my prescription last October and was able to get a good night's sleep.

Here's the thing- I'm at a loss what I should do for the future. The doctors and dental specialists were baffled as to what exactly the problem was the last time- All they could figure was that it was some form of TMJ. Clearly it's not an indicator of a more serious problem, it's just pain. My problem is that if the pain strikes hard again, I'm nearly out of oxycodone. And clearly, my usual doctors and dentists have no desire to write me a prescription for any sort of strong pain killers. In October, I saw my dentist after the emergency room visit and he warned me not to take the oxycodone that the emergency room doctor had prescribed.

So as I ponder what may be inevitable suffering, I'm left to wonder why-oh-why this country is so fucked up about drugs. I'm not talking about getting high or having a good time, I'm talking about wanting to relieve intense pain. Yet our system has made it nearly impossible for me to do it. Some doctors are so scared of the possible addictive effects of pain killers that they'd rather err on the side pain. And other doctors are so fearful of government prosecutions of doctors who "over prescribe" pain medication, that they'd rather err on the side of pain. All the while, people like me, who would just like to be able to treat pain in a quick and effective manner are forced to wait out reluctant doctors and pay expensive emergency room bills.

And all for what? I know what my medical problem is and I know what I need to do to manage that problem. But because the government doesn't trust me to make decisions about my own body and my own individual medical conditions, I'm forced to jump through hoops, spending time and money just to deal with some pain. As a libertarian it's frustrating to have to deal with all this nonsense, but it's just plain frustrating in terms of common sense. I want more pain pills today because I know I need them. I haven't wanted any since I had my last jaw problem. Even if I could claim to understand the logic of our draconian drug laws, I'd still have difficulty in their application to me- After all, why should I have to suffer because other people might become addicted to pain killers- Why should I be punished for the problems of others?


Blogger McMc said...

I feel your pain...

Bad jokes aside, you're right and wrong. You're not suffering because of the possibility of addiction, you're suffering BECAUSE of addiction. It's pretty common for people to fake pain so that they can get more pain killers. Doctors don't want to aid this behavior so they have to be thorough and they have to make sure. So when you go in with a fairly mysterious pain problem, the doctors naturally feel a little skeptical. As the old saying goes, "One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch". Whether that's true or not with apples, it is true with humans.

And this is really my point for a lot of your problems with government. People, in general, cannot be trusted. People abuse everything. That's why to get help sometimes you have to jump through hoops. So what if YOU know what your problem is, a group doctors you've never seen before might not.

5:40 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

But this is precisely my point. When you say "people can not be trusted" you really mean some statistically significant proportion of people can not be trusted. Who the hell knows if that's 5% or 75% of people- My point is that it shouldn't matter. That is, why is my freedom restricted, why am I effectively punished, and why do I have to suffer because other people can't be trusted?

The thing is, the worst abusers don't have to jump through hoops because they'll just circumvent the law. I suppose the real question is, how many of the "people who can't be trusted" are actually deterred by the laws we have - and, actually, in this case, how many of the "people who can't be trusted" don't abuse pain killers because of the hoops you have to jump through. I think from that initial percentage your numbers will get smaller and smaller.

But regardless, your point is not so much about human nature as it is a point about law. I'm sure you don't think that legitimate pain patients should have to suffer because of literally just a few bad eggs- you're worried about a lot of bad eggs. And therefore, you believe we need the laws we have to basically keep the fabric of society from tearing apart. So as I said, your point isn't about human nature, but about law- that law is what holds society together. And that's where I'd disagree with you- I think society, through social conventions and unwritten rules of conduct and decency, tends to hold itself together. If Pain killers were more easily accessible, it wouldn't destroy the fabric of society anymore than alcohol on demand destroys society.

I really don't know whether or not that would lead to more pain killer addicts, I'm just saying that society is not going to fall apart- and if thats the case, why should I suffer to protect other people from themselves?

9:43 AM  
Blogger McMc said...

"And that's where I'd disagree with you- I think society, through social conventions and unwritten rules of conduct and decency, tends to hold itself together."

Do you live in America? How many people actually care about common decency? If it weren't illegal to park in handicap spaces, do you think people would still park elsewhere? If if weren't illegal to litter, wouldn't people be throwing a lot more trash out their window? Even the little often do people hold open doors for you? How often do you see gum on the sidewalk? How many people actually pick up dog poo?

This is the problem with your fail to see the big picture. You continue to go by your own beliefs and your own personal experiences without thinking on the whole. Do you know how many college kids would be on pain killers if doctors were more lenient with giving them out? Hell, when kids get their wisdom teeth taken out it's almost second nature to sell the last few pills of the bottle.

Like I said before, people cannot be trusted. It doesn't matter and it shouldn't matter what the statistics are and you know why? All it takes is one false prescription to get a doctor in trouble. They have to look out for their own butts too.

And looking at this on an entirely different level, what is pain? You may know how much something hurts but doctors see it all. Pain is not universal, some have more tolerance than others. Because of that, a doctor isn't just going to openly give out pain killers. How many times do you think a doctor admits a patient only to see five minutes later that their pain has subsided or that their injury was much less severe than originally thought? Doctors have seen it all and therefore, they're skeptical. A person may think they have a broken ankle when they really have a mild sprain. It happens.

4:53 PM  

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