Fighting Stigma – “I’m Mad as Hell…

… and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

That iconic line, spoken by the late great Peter Finch in the movie “Network” has often been quoted, referring to any number of crappy situations. The full monolog by Finch’s character, Howard Beale, is worth a listen whether you have seen the movie or not. It has been quoted or paraphrased in other movies, the media, and probably every trivia game in existence! Finch won a posthumous best actor Oscar for the role.

So what am I so worked up about that I won’t take it anymore?

I have been dealing with an acute (as opposed to my chronic) pain in my right side for a couple of weeks now. I passed a kidney stone the size of a bee-bee pellet after the first week and had 24 hours of relief. After that, the pain came back even worse. I continued to self-treat with lots of lemon water, watching my diet, etc. Hubby and friends tried to convince me to go to the hospital, but I held off because I don’t like being treated like an addict.

However, Wednesday my bad leg started to swell and hurt. Between the two acute pains and my normal chronic conditions, I finally caved. Friday was my husband’s birthday, but he booked the day off (without pay) to take me to the ER and get me checked out.

We waited about five hours before seeing the doctor. I had to ask if they wanted a urine test (totally needed for bladder/kidney pain) and the only other test done was bloodwork.

When the doctor came in he seemed honestly caring and ordered a CT plus heavy pain meds. I maintained from the beginning that I was not here for them, only answers. But after all this time sitting and not having my regular meds I was in agony so I accepted, not realizing he was giving me everything he mentioned at once.

I waited awhile for the results. Hubby had to go home and tend to Violet and Monkey. It was shift change in the ER, so that held it up a little longer. Finally, my new nurse came in and asked if the doctor had seen me and I said yes, but not since the CT scan. The nurse said the doctor called in to say if I could keep food down I could go home. Did that mean I was supposed to eat something there? But I didn’t say that. I asked if that meant the CT didn’t show anything, and he went out to contact the doctor.

The nurse was outside my “room” talking to the doctor on speaker. There was a lot of noise around, but I could hear a lot of it very clearly. Especially, the part where the doctor said: “give her the ‘usual’ and send me home – she’ll latch onto anything she can get.”

I was mortified and furious at the same time. I had even put in writing on the sheet with all my meds, etc. that I was here for answers, not drugs. When the nurse came in and said he could give me six hydromorph to take home, I refused it in a very short angered voice.

I told him that I heard the conversation, and he became very sympathetic and apologetic. He convinced me in the end to take the pills “just in case” I needed them. By this time I was so disgusted that I didn’t care what anyone thought. They are going to think it no matter what I say or do.

Oh, and the nurse also came in with a vile and suggested I leave another sample so they could test for infection. He brought me a couple of cups of water to help me and because my throat sounded dry (it always does). Apparently, they didn’t check for infection the first time around.

I totally believe that God was in this whole situation. I believe He sent me that nurse as an angel. I don’t believe the nurse was “pretending”. He was very genuine in his concern for my health and how I was treated. I also believe God used this to bring me to the point where I ready to fight for my rights.

Hubby came to get me and seeing him I melted. He is my rock and helps me through everything. I told him that we were going out to eat for his birthday. The gravol given with the pain meds actually gave me an appetite for the first time in awhile.

By the time we left, it had been 7 hours in total in the ER.

We went to our favourite restaurant, and our waitress was back from maternity leave. I “let it slip” that it was Hubby’s birthday, so she put a candle in his apple pie and the last three servers came and sang Happy Birthday. We were the last ones there, so he wasn’t too embarrassed. LOL

This whole experience has just fired me up more to campaign against chronic pain stigma. Just because we take a lot of pain meds, doesn’t mean we want more – usually, it is quite the opposite.

In my case, I know that these situations make me less likely to see about new pain until it is so bad that I am sure I do come across as desperate. I have now told Hubby that for sure the only way I will ever set foot in an ER (for me) is unconscious in an ambulance. I know that is drastic, but I am a human being and want to be treated as such.

To all of you out there who have experienced this or worse, we really do NOT need to take it anymore (as I step down carefully from the soap box).


PS I started writing this when we got home last night; however, the meds were starting to wear off, and I was both in pain and exhausted (mentally and physically). I relented and took one of “the usual” and had a very solid eight hours sleep. That is something I haven’t experienced in a long time, so I guess something good came out of it all.


17 Replies to “Fighting Stigma – “I’m Mad as Hell…”

    1. It has got past annoying. There was another guy who has chronic kidney stones there the same time as me. He said that once they didn’t do anything for him at all because they said he was just there for drugs. He was back by ambulance 4 hours later and had a huge stone blasted!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As a physician who has seen my share of patients over nearly 21 years in practice, I wish I could say your experience was unique. Unfortunately, we have a “broken” system (similar to our infra-structure) that we turn our backs on pretending it’s working just fine. We are a culture that requires serious “PAIN” (like catastrophic events) before we are willing to accept CHANGE. We are foolish, because we don’t seem to learn from our past mistakes.

    As (both) patient and doctor continue to identify and COMMUNICATE these problems, a collaboration can develop to create SOLUTIONS that meet the needs of ALL parties involved.

    as long as a “SHEEP HERDING” mentality exists and patients are willing to follow it, the system will remain focused (primarily) on satisfying IT’S needs over the patient’s needs. It is up to the patient to begin accepting greater responsibility. The patient can start by following a LIFESTYLE that reduces their chances for disease and dysfunction. It is unreasonable for the patient to CHOOSE an unhealthy lifestyle and then complain that doctors aren’t “making” them “healthy!”

    We ALL have a role to play and it’s time we ALL step up and take responsibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand where you are coming from. However, in my case I do everything I can to live a “healthy” lifestyle. I am chronically ill, meaning a lot of it is out of my control. I am very proactive in my health, using diet, as much exercise as my pain filled body can take, and take the medications prescribed for my conditions. I also avoid going to the doctor or hospital until I am sure it is definitely something unrelated to my chronic conditions. I accept that the doctor didn’t find anything he could treat this time. What I don’t accept is that he assumed I was just there for pain meds, and saying so over a speaker phone to my nurse. I manage more pain in a day than the average person has in their lifetime. I appreciate hearing the other side of things from you (and I do understand them). I would just like to see a little more knowledge and understanding of chronic illness on the parts of the public and the professionals. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In case my wording was poorly expressed, I believe you are significantly more diligent than the average person that lives with chronic pain. My whole finger pointing message was for the many people choosing to make unhealthy choices unwilling to take responsibility for their health and LIFE. I give you a lot of credit for remaining committed to finding natural healthy alternatives to improve your pain and quality of life. There is no question, pharmaceuticals have a place and a benefit when indicated. So many people (unlike yourself) turn to them far too early in the process in place of finding REAL SOLUTIONS to root causes of dysfunction.

        With trained professionals not truly understanding (in many cases) chronic illness, just imagine how confused the public must be without any formal training?

        I hope you find the compassion you deserve and the answers to your problems over time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you very much, Doctor Jonathan. I did believe you were speaking generally. I was just sensitive at that point in time because the ER incident was so fresh in my mind. Yes, there is progress to be made on both sides and if there are more people like you and me we all might just get there! Thanks for following up!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: