Inhumane Treatment Of Pain Patients In USA


I opened up My friends blog today (“Pharmacist Steve”). It is Steve Ariens Blog; and I saw a story of torture. There is torture going on in America! I’m seeing it every day now on the Internet! More & more chronic pain patients are being treated like common criminals! This is despicable! My God, are we living in North Korea, Afghanistan or in some 3rd world country (whos people , by the way; don’t deserve this kind of treatment any more than we don’t!!)?

How can the news media @Foxnews.com, @CNN, @MSNBC and all of the rest, be so one sided? Please, I implore you @POTUS, @GovChristie @PetersforMichigan (Senator Gary Peters), @NYGovCuomo (Governor Andrew Cuomo), @onetoughnerd (Governor Rick Snyder of MI). I implore you to think of the forgotten legitimate chronic pain patients. People are now living with daily chronic pain and receiving no treatment at all. They being totally forgotten & considered collateral damage of this “fake war on drugs” ! It’s a war against the chronic pain community; because they’re the ones who are dying. The pain community is stuck with zero semblance of a life as all of this is crashing down around them/us! The posted video is not just sad, it’s torturous to listen to. It’s terrible to watch. But it’s true and it’s happening all over the United States Of America! This is a story about a young mother, wife and daughter; who’s going through sheer bloody hell in Albany New York Trauma Center!

“Amy” Amy’s story of Human Torture in a NY hospital! is a young woman who just went through a painful stomach surgery and her stomach ruptured as well! The contents are therefore spreading throughout her body inside and this causes not only sepsis, but horrible excruciating pain! My husband went through it years ago, but they gave him a Morphine pump while in the hospital for several days following surgery. He was given pain relief, as any HUMAN BEING or any living, breathing animal should have!!

This is torturous and despicable treatment of anyone in a hospital, or any patient care facility; let alone, following a stomach surgery! How can the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, allow their patient to be treated in such an inhumane manner??? The behavior of the nurses who pledge also, to “care for the sick” and to “do no harm”; is unforgivable! This sort of treatment to other human beings deserves termination. Those so called patient care employees need to be fired and they should never be allowed to not care for another patient! This woman, who has a name, a face, a husband & a family; is living through hell!

You know what though? This is entirely preventable! She is not a prisoner of War! This is a young woman who’d much prefer to have a “normal” life! This young woman has a name, and that name is “AMY”! She has a young child and a husband. I’m guessing that her husband had to leave her to go home and take care of their little one! He had to do that and he thought he’d left his wife in the care of a reputable hospital facility!! Obviously, he was mistaken and that’s really sad!

What if Amy was unable to show us this video? What if she was incapacitated and couldn’t tell anyone what’s happening to her? Please share this video and Amy’s story. Write to your legislators and put a name and a face to all of our stories. Nothing can change if we cannot be brave and do something to help ourselves and to help Amy!

Our government leaders, the news media agencies and society need to as many faces and hear as many stories as possible about us! The chronic pain community being left behind and treated as though we are just collateral damage in the war on drugs! This has taken a turn for the worse. It’s gone from a “war” against illicit drugs to a war against the legitimate chronic pain patients. We will lose & continue to lose if not for people being brave like “Amy”.

Please speak out and tell everyone your story and the stories like this one! Get the word out about how chronic pain patients are not drug addicts. We are not addicted at all! Ask them if they can remember a time when they had lived through their worst pain imaginable? Then ask them to think about that pain never ceasing! Tell them this is what it’s like for us, for you!

Please pass this story around. Know that I received Amy’s video & story from Pharmacist Steve Arians Blog, at: PharmacistSteve.com….. It is posted in several places on Facebook. He asked if we could “please make this video go viral”?

Thank you for your help! Please…. let’s all help Amy & all of the other “Amy’s”! Thank you Steve Ariens too!

Withdrawals From Actiq…..3 Weeks Later….For CRPS/Systemic


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“Why give up everything for one thing when you can give up one thing for everything”……Unknown

Hello Luvs,

Wow…it has now been 3 weeks (*tomorrow….On Monday, Aug 3, 2015), since I went  from 5 Fentanyl “Actiq” Lollipops per day (Plus the long lasting Fentanyl patch that I still continue to wear and to change every 48 hours), to zero Actiq lollipops for Breakthrough pain per day. I went to bed on the 12th of July taking my last “sucker” for pain and I woke up being unable, not allowed  to take another. The first day wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I am suspecting that was because I still had residuals left in my system.  By the end of the first night, I started feeling pretty ill. The second day was wasn’t so bad and the 3,4th, and 5th days were the worst.  I can tell you that it feels like the very worst flu that I’ve ever had. It includes: vomiting, diarrhea, chills, awful sweats and all I wanted to do was lay on my couch, bed or “Lazy Boy” chair. I am sometimes hungry, but when I eat, my stomach hurts. I feel bloated and nothing sounds good to eat and even drinking doesn’t sound good. I used to love my hot tea, my coffee and diet pepsi and none of that even sounds good to me now.  Nothing is the same and now it’s been 3 weeks!

We called the Dr. about 5 days into this and told him how awful I’d been feeling. I did a lot of research, went onto forums for withdrawals and such. I found out that there are a few different meds that can help through the hardest days at the beginning especially. The first one is a blood pressure medication called “Catapres” also called “Clonodine”. There is an anti-anxiey /anti-panic attack type of drug called “Klonopin” that can also help with the withdrawal and flu-like symptoms. Then another thing that can help are the medications that are for anxiety, such as: Ativan, Xanax or even Valium. You don’t need to take them for a long time but just long enough to help you through a hard time. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, please research online forums, use “google” to look up information on withdrawals and then check out “You Tube” videos online about withdrawals too!  My Dr. gave me the Catapress and I took it for about 2 weeks and it helped very much with the symptoms of chills, sweats etc. That is driving me crazy! The chills and sweats are getting lesser and less often but the knee dropping fatigue just won’t stop!

So now I’m actually finishing the 3rd week of not taking the one thing that actually worked for my pain.  The Fentanyl Lollipops helped me and though I never should’ve been given the large amount that Dr. Bullach had given me, I felt so much better when I was down and got myself down to the FDA approved amount. I don’t understand  at all why I have to go through the pain of the withdrawals from something that helped my pain the most and did not upset my GI tract. I now remember and cannot believe that I didn’t remember when the pain Dr. asked me “do you have stomach issues? Why are you taking the lollipops in the first place?” I told him that I didn’t have issues with my stomach and due to my MTBI I forget certain things. I remember now that Dr. Bullach had written a “book” for the Insurance company about me and why I needed to take Actiq losenges or lollipops because of the numerous different meds that I tried with horrible GI side effects or allergic reactions. I had forgotten all about that until I started taking Dilauded on a daily basis. It’s ripping up my stomach!

It’s been 3 weeks and I cry often and feel very depressed. I’m not ever very hungry and I’ve not lost any weight! How crazy is that? I feel nauseous and my stomach down in my lower intestines, feels bloated and hurts every time I eat something! Nothing sounds good and nothing much tastes very good. I’m going to the pain Dr. this week and I need to talk to him and tell him everything. But I just really don’t want to try a bunch of other medications that might make my stomach worse or have even worse side effects. The one side effect that I cannot handle is “weight gain”. I already feel much to heavy now and I cannot afford to gain an ounce. I used to have Anorexia since I was about 13 yrs old and I fought in on and off until I was in that car accident . I will only say one thing about the eating disorder, and that happened because of things ….no….”Abuse” that happened in my home growing up. My kidneys and tubules from my kidneys are too small according to the Ultrasound that the Nephrologist did several years ago following my episode of acute renal failure in 1994. I’ve been on SSDI for Chronic Kidney Disease Stage II and Complex PTSD. To make a very long story, very very short, my heart and my kidneys have medical issues due to me being starved and poisoned with syrup of Ipecac during my childhood. I have seen my pediatrician records, shot records etc.; my dad gave them to me after my mom died and I don’t think he knew what they said!  They are written all over by the pediatrician. It says “Feed this baby”!  “This baby is Anemic! Give her Iron”….then the Dr. wrote some instructions with names of baby foods and formulas with iron etc. So ….lastly, regarding this subject, I do have stomach issues and when I was terribly Anemic in 1999, 2000, 2001; I had 3 blood transfusions!!! They didn’t work and the Hemoglobin was at 8. when I had the last one! So I visited a Hematologist and he gave me an IV infusion of something that helped and my Anemia has been much better since 2002!!!

Since that awful car accident on 8-11-02, and all of the chronic intractable pain, the surgeries and the horrible pain following the surgeries; I just didn’t care anymore about how much I weighed. The numbers didn’t matter any longer! I needed to eat to help myself feel less pain, take medications to help with the ongoing pain following that accident.!!! I slowly started gaining weight as at the time of the MVA, I only weighed about 90 pounds and I am 5’5” tall! Slowly I allowed myself the nourishment to “fix” or help “fix” my pained and broken body. I’ve gotten up to about 145 lbs now and to me, that is too much. For a long time I didn’t weigh myself because as long as I could wear a size 6, I felt OK with myself. I can still wear a “misses” size 6 in relaxed jeans but I feel very big now because I need to use a cane, a wheelchair at times and even a walker. I don’t exercise because I get out of breath and in too much pain and am unable to do much of anything. The CRPS started in 2007 in my right foot following a surgery. It spread to both feet and my knees as well. Now it is full body  “systemic” and I cannot even walk more than just a few minutes, like 20 minutes I suppose. Some days a little more and other days a little less. I’m trying not to worry about that, the “numbers” game, but it’s really scaring me because for the past 3 weeks now, I’ve had a very hard time eating anything much at all and I have not lost but 3 pounds. My Lymphedema in my left arm from the CRPS on my whole left side internally, doesn’t help with that because I get a lot of edema! My feet, legs and arms swell. I’m pretty much miserable!

I didn’t mean to go there. I wasn’t planning on talking about the Anorexia. But I am proud of myself for a few reasons. I have cured myself of the Anorexia (although I will always have the food fears and I will always have the distorted body image and thoughts that go with it all. But I will not ever be acting on those fears and thoughts again, for life and death reasons because I love my husband, kids and grandkids much more than I care about those numbers! I always did but I felt too “out of control” and controlled by my fears of food way back when!

Ok…..so back to these past few weeks…..this has been the hardest or one of the top few hardest things that I’ve ever done. I asked the Dr. who took over for Dr. Bullach,(**and got me through by prescribing lower and lower doses of the meds that would’ve and could’ve killed me if he had not done that for me) if he was “proud of me” for stopping the Fentanyl lollipops?  I asked him also if he liked the letter that I wrote to him, Dr. Bullach and Dr. Dobritt, the old pain Dr.?  He smiled and said that his Office employees were impressed and he left it at that. I could see it in his face and his eyes. His demeanor was very different this past visit, with my being off of that prescription now  and him not having to write it for me any longer. He is relieved and I do feel that he is very happy for me and proud of me. That shouldn’t really matter to me but it does make me feel good that I did and am doing and have done something very very difficult that even some of the strongest willed people might not have been able to do!! But I’ve done it and i’m doing it!!

After having said all that I’ve said, now I’d like to really say that I’ve been going through “HELL” this past 3 weeks. I don’t want to live like this with my stomach feeling all ripped up. My headaches and neck aches, which are in the back of my head and neck, most likely from the “Chiari I malformation”, have been a daily occurrence and they aren’t going away! I was off of  my Ativan for a year and now I’m back on that several time daily to help with the Dilauded side effects.  I could take the Dilauded when it was just an “emergency” medication that I used to keep out of the E.R. or it was used following surgeries. You must remember that I also had my “suckers” at that or during those times as well. My husband has had to set his alarm for 6:00 am each morning to get up and get me a Dilauded and an Ativan , just so that I am able to get out of bed an hour or two later! I used to take a Fentanyl Lollipop which was waiting in my bedside table drawer. I could open it, take it and lay in bed for about 1/2 hour and then I was able to get up. Now I have to plan it like a 2 hour ordeal. If we forget then we or I cannot even get out of bed. I do have GI issues obviously from all that my stomach has been through. Im actually surprised its not worse. I do have to have Colonoscopies every 5 years also, because of my mom’s death from colon cancer in Dec 2002. For some reason, the lollipops don’t upset my stomach or bother me in any way. I have had no side effects! I’ve honestly tried so many other pain meds that all had terrible side effects and worse! I don’t think I’ll be able to go back on the lollipops now! I’m not sure I would if I could, now that I’ve gone through the withdrawals and illness that goes with that.!! I honestly don’t know what to ask for or try? I did have something called Kadian (*extended slow release Morphine) that worked for a few or 2 years and suddenly stopped working for me. I also have something called “LONG QT syndrome”, which affects my heart and there are hundreds of meds that I cannot have due to this condition, that has only one symptom; which is “sudden cardiac death”.

Now I’m going to share with you, some research that I got from some of the websites that are the companies that make these Fentanyl lollipops called “Actiq”. I also want to share that many people have lost and do lose their teeth because of these lollipops with 8 grams of sugar in each one. The way that you get the medication to work is by placing the lollipop between my gum and my cheek. You have to pretty much keep it there twirling it loosly for 15 minutes in order to get the appropriate amount of medication. My Dentist was wonderful and thought ahead for my safety and comfort. He made special trays that molded to my teeth. I then put a flouride paste into these trays, put them into my mouth, covering all of my teeth for about 5 minutes several times per week! I had only one or two cavities since 2005, when I actually started the suckers. They were very old and needed new fillings. I tried hard to take every precaution.

I honestly don’t see why I had to have something taken from me that I was being very responsible with and doing very well with while taking them??? I only always followed my physician’s rules and advice! These past 3 years I had asked him several times if he would “help me go down off of them and take less”. He always told me that “Suzanne, I got you out of that hospital bed in the living room! I got you to be able to get up, go out sometimes and have a bit more of a life!” He was right, so I stopped bothering him. He told me to “trust him” and so I did. Here are a few of the things that I found on the website for the Fentanyl “Actiq” Lolllipops for BT pain:   “Actiq achieved off-label status as a powerful pain reliever (80-100 times more potent than morphine) and is used to treat migraine headaches, severe back pain, cluster headaches, bone pain, arthritis, neuropathies, and other situations of severe chronic non-cancer pain.”  Also, I read that “It can legally be prescribed for off-label used but cannot be marked as such.  As much as 80% of the prescriptions for Actiq each year are written for off-label use for sufferers of NON-CANCER,Chronic pain.  Soooo, then ….if I was doing so much better and had a much more happy existence with less pain because no stomach issues and honestly …less pain!!??? Why , then??? Why can I not have my life back? Its not any more dangerous it just cannot be! I don’t  understand because Fentanyl is Fentanyl and how is less of that any better for me, than Dillauded ripping up my stomach whilst my head and neck,…..arms, legs and feet feel “on Fire” along with burning nerve pain! I’m so fatigued, that I can only do something for about one hour maybe two and I’m down for the count! The rest of the day is in bed or in my “Lazy Boy” chair or on the couch!…

Well, I’ll give Dr Bullach that one…he got me “out of that hospital bed in the living room and out doing more stuff” while in the meantime giving me much too much medication …..like I have said before, I’m a lay person and I had no idea !! I wish I’d never taken any of it….I ‘ve never smoked, drank nor have I ever done any drug of any kind…At first, after the car accident, when I went to my 1st pain Dr  for 3 yrs…they’d get upset with me because I wasn’t taking the amount prescribed but was taking LESS….I cannot win….I never have taken more than prescribed either….well, we will see what happens huh? I’ll keep you posted…I have another pain Dr. appt this week on the 6th….Thank you for following ….and we will be on to a new subject very soon…If you want to read back on any of my old posts…one of the pretty good ones is “Illness Doesn’t Equal Lack of Faith”…..it’s a good one if I do say so myself….check it out if you wish….I’ll be writing soon again…not so long this time…My youngest daughter is moving with her hubby to Boise Idaho this week…give me strength. This is going to be so very hard…I miss her already….UGGH Why does life have to be this hard??? lots of love, Suzanne

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Withdrawals And One Week Fentanyl Lollipop Free !!


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Hello Luvs,

Wow…One week has passed….and I have been free of the Fentanyl Lollipops for 7 days now!

I would say that growing up in an abusive home was horrendous. Being robbed at gunpoint at the age of 11 years; in a shoe store with my family, was just terrifying. I also think that  getting married, being abused and getting remarried all the while being abused even worse, was pretty challenging. I didn’t know what “challenging” was though, until I had to flee the marital home with my two baby girls; along with help from the domestic violence shelters. My little girls  were only 3 and 5 1/2 and I was 30 years old. Later I was diagnosed with PTSD and “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” and found some solace in trusted Psychologist whom I still know to this day. I had felt that battling Anorexia & depression on and off since the age of 17 until I cured myself following a horrible motor vehicle accident in 2002; was brave and courageous. Having gone through Acute renal failure, being robbed again in 2013 and being involved in 2 Motor vehicle accidents, through no fault of my own, I thought I didn’t exactly have such an “easy” life. The second MVA in 2002, I suffered numerous injuries and multiple surgeries; including several pieces of hardware placed in a few different parts of my body. I’m on my second pacemaker, the first being “a piece of cake”. Meaning that the second pacemaker surgery in 2013, did not go quite as planned. After getting into my chest, the Neuro-Cardiologist found out that the 1st pacemaker had worn a hole right through my pectoral muscle. Then not only did I need a new pacemaker, but the 45 minute to an hour surgery turned into a 3 hour ordeal in which my whole left pectoral muscle had to be rebuilt. The team was smart and did research on RSD/CRPS, a Neuro-autoimmune disease that I ended up getting after my 7th surgery.  It was the surgery on my right foot in 2007, in which the horribly painful nerve disease started. It spread and it spread until it went systemic following that major open surgery in 2013. I even endured a CVA and a mild heart attack in between the 10 surgeries following that MVA in 2002. I suffer from an MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) and went through 3 years of TBI rehabilitation to learn how to cope with:  not being able to cook when nobody is home (because I may leave burners on and hurt my family or myself), not being able to comprehend what I read anymore after having been a College graduate with a 3.9 GPA! I had to learn how to live with leg braces, hearing aids, special prism glasses, balance issues, much less concentration capabilities and just about zero short term memory!  The worst of these being the chronic nerve pain and all of the pain following those years and still to this day.

I went to a pain Dr. for 3 years and he did everything from epidural nerve blocks to trigger point injections and biofeedback along with pain Psychology appointments. I was so happy when I read the notes from the pain Psychologist’s because they wrote that I was not an “addictive personality”. I never drank, smoked, did any drugs….prescription or otherwise! I was one of those “good girls” who had always tried to be “teachers pet” and get a 4.0 GPA and still try to get “extra credit”. Of course I’m a “type A” personality person who likes to do things the right way the first time if at all possible. I always did my best at everything I endeavored. I made alot of mistakes but always came back and tried again, while pulling up myself by the “bootstraps”.

The chronic intractable pain that has gone along with all of my injuries and surgeries since 2002 and then the diagnosis of CRPS in 2007; and later the shock of getting the “full body/systemic CRPS” has been traumatic to say the least. I was always very cooperative and followed whatever the Dr’s told me to do. I trusted again and again and again; when most people would’ve given up long ago, I just kept believing in the “goodness” of people or at least trying to find some good in all people. If you’ve been following along at all, you’ll know that I met Dr. Bullach, my GP for 12 years, in 2002 during a hospital stay following that MVA.  I was in there for pain control and met the pain Dr at the same time. I trusted him right away and thought he was a kind and “teddy bear-ish” type of personality.  He told me that I “could trust him” and that “he would be the eye in the middle of my storm”. He said he would help me and cooridinate specialists and take care of all of my medications etc. He told me “not to worry”.  We tried every medication under the sun, it seemed.  Everything either made me deathly ill, very sick or I was allergic to it! By the time we were finished and had found one thing that finally worked for my kind of pain, there was something of a “book” of all the meds that I had tried and which had failed for me.

Finally, I tried the Fentanyl patches and they made me nauseous and really “loopy”. I went ahead and tried them again because I just felt that a patch was so easy and you didn’t have to think about it all the time, many times per day etc. It finally helped to relieve my pain. I had a hospital bed in my home because I couldn’t even get in and out of bed or get any sleep due to the amount of pain I was living with at the time. I had been offered a “pain pump” that they fill with morphine, by the pain Dr. ….but the auto insurance was fighting me so much and I just didn’t have a whole lot of “fight” left at that time. I also already had 2 screws in my right shoulder, a jaw implant and had a pacemaker! I didn’t want anymore “things” put into my body. Especially not something with a catheter that would’ve been stuck into my spine that had multiple herniates and bulging disks, degenerative disk disease and Scoliosis.  Luckily I didn’t get the pain pump because later we found out that I suffer from Hypogammaglobulinemia, a blood disease that means I have an immune deficiency in my IGG, IGA subsets of white blood cells. I could have become paralyzed and could have gotten numerous infections had I allowed that pump to be placed. I made the right decision for me and today I’m so glad that I did.

So I had been in a “pain pump” support group, just to find out information for myself about the pumps and to make friends with the same kind of pain issues that I suffer from. Everyone was so kind and many were knowledgeable. Some of the people mentioned these “pain lollipops”. They said that they helped a lot and very quickly for the terrible nerve pain. I checked in with my GP, Dr. Bullach about them and he started me on them right away. That was in 2005, after I’d finished treatment with the pain Dr.and he’d put me back in the hands of my GP.  He told me that because I didn’t want a pain pump and I was going to go the medication route for my pain, that it’d be better for me to be in the care of my GP. He agreed that Dr. Bullach would prescribe the pain meds. He told me that my Dr. could consult with him at any time and he would help.  He also agreed that it was better for him this way because he was “looked at under a microscope” and didn’t like prescribing pain meds.

These experiences were all difficult, painful, scarey and life altering; but nothing prepared me for what I’ve gone through this past week with the withdrawals from the Fentanyl lollipops.  I’d been prescribed them and had been taking these for the past 10 or 11 years! Time just kept passing and the regimen was working; although I asked many many times over especially the past 3 years to get taken “way down” from the amount I’d been taking of the pain suckers. Dr. Bullach just kept on telling me to “trust him” and that he “was the eye in the middle of my storm”.  He told me that he’d “gotten me out of that hospital bed in my home”!  He reminded me that I was able to at least get out and do a little bit more than I had been before the lollipops. So I trusted him; though I still continued to ask him to slowly take me down because I felt that I was falling so often (6 times in 2014 and 6 concussions!!!) and though I have balance issues, I thought in the back of my head that maybe it was partially the fault of the meds? I never even took an Aspirin for headaches in the past, prior to this car accident and the injuries from it. Now I was wearing 2 patches of Fentanyl and taking sometimes approximately up to 20 or + lollipops daily to control my CRPS and the other pain issues. I had even woken a “sleeping monster” in that MVA in 2002! I had been born with “Arnold Chiari I malformation”. It showed up on the MRI after the MVA. It is a congenital defect in which the tonsils at the base of my brain stem get swollen and do not fit correctly into the spinal cord column, causing great pain for some people and others never know they have it! It all depends on many issues and variations. The horrible whiplash being my 2nd one and then the MTBI, “woke up” the sleeping congenital defect. Hence, another horrible pain issue to where I cannot even hold my head up for long periods of time without causing great pain.

So as you’ve probably been reading my past few posts, you know that my GP just abruptly left in December 2014. Without any feeling, caring or the tenderness I’d seen before in his eyes; he just told me he was leaving and that that appointment would be my last one with him. He promised he’d talk to the pain Dr. that knew me. He assured me that my treatment would be and stay the same as it had been because it was working! He promised also to send my records to the pain Dr and to personally talk to him on my behalf. I had received a letter from my health insurance company, stating that they “would no longer pay for the Fentanyl lollipops for pain after March 11, 2015, unless a pain Dr. agreed with Dr. Bullach’s treatment plan.” He told me not to worry about a thing and again to “trust him”. Well, as you know, none of that ever happened and the Dr. who took over for Dr. Bullach’s patients got left with a “mess”. He could not handle the volume of patients on top of his own, especially the amount of “pain patients” that Dr. B. had accumulated!! Luckily for me, I’d been a patient in that office since 1986, and had a history with that other Dr. as well. He reluctantly helped me get the pain lollipops and patches, but was swift to inform me that he was not going to be prescribing the amount that I’d been taking under the other Dr.

I was afraid, but I was motivated. I have been through so much, but it has made me a strong woman and a survivor. I took myself down from 20+ suckers daily down to only 8 in just a couple of months time. I cut my amount of the patches in half as well. I went through some hyperalgesia and some misery, but I did it! I was taking less and less as I was looking for a pain Dr. to help because the other physician in that practice didn’t feel comfortable prescribing the kind of pain meds that I needed to survive now, with all of the pain that I live with on a daily basis.

Finally, I found a nice pain Dr. and luckily I carry my records with me when I go to a new specialist. I had everything in order and I felt “safe” with him right away. He told me to finish up the pack of pain lollipops that I was taking and then  go to sleep on July 12th taking one last sucker. Then I was to wake up on the 13th of July, and never take another Fentanyl lollipop again; after 10 or 11 years of taking them, it was over! I was starting a new pain management regimen and I was fearful, but knew I could do it!  The first day was not so bad until the night time. I did crave the mental picture of having something that my brain associated with immediate pain relief!  I felt nauseous, achy all over and I was so hot, I thought I was going to spontaneously combust!! Then I’d get chills, diarrhea and started to vomit. I felt jittery and anxious and didn’t want to do anything but cry and sleep and lay on the couch! I made a video of how I was feeling at 5:00am on the 2nd day. The second day was more of the same and the third day was the worst! I did manage to go with my husband, daughter,& my 2 granddaughters to an hour or so of the kids “music in the park Wednesdays” Summer program.on the third day.  I returned home sicker than ever afterwards!  Finally, I started researching on forums and “You Tube” etc. I learned that if I took a medication called “Clonadine” aka “Catapress”, it can sometimes help with the withdrawals. I called the GP and within an hour an half, I had the Catapress in my body. It was the first thing that actually took a little bit of the edge off from the withdrawal symptoms.

The pain Dr. didn’t seem to think I’d have too much or too many symptoms because he said we were “faking out my body” by switching to a different BT pain medication….something  more safe and not made for “end of life” and “terminal” patients.with Cancer.  He told me that the pain lollipops were/are dangerous, “very dangerous”. He said that I should never have had them. So I’m not sure why my body still went through horrible withdrawals, maybe because of my many bad pain issues?  But I felt like I just was going to die and really didn’t care if I had, at that point! I’m so lucky that my husband is a teacher and he was home for me. Also, my oldest daughter lives nearby and she was a great help and has been. She even was calling several times daily and was stopping over to bring me some “Gator aide” to help my electrolytes along with my favorite food, “french fries”, to get me to eat something substantial!

Well, today it is one week and I am Fentanyl lollipop free. I’m very proud of myself for doing this without having to go anyplace and get help elsewhere. I was afraid because I had a previous heart attack and stroke and I’d had seizures following the MVA for about 6 months. All of those things can happen when going through withdrawals. I’m so very lucky that these things didn’t happen again. I don’t feel good yet. I feel very tired, heavy and I still have stomach aches and diarrhea, along with nausea and depression on and off. I think I’m over the “hump” or the worst of it. I think I will get just a little bit better each day. It’s going to be very very hard because for over 10 years I had a “quick” relief when I was on an outing or needed quick breakthrough pain relief.I have to retrain my brain and myself to just plan ahead and take what the pain Dr has prescribed for me now, about 45 minutes before I may need it. That’s not going to be easy and the new meds are feeling like they’re ripping out my tummy. People tell me that is the withdrawals and not the meds. I’m willing to see this through and keep on keeping on!

Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you and I will certainly be keeping you posted. Thank you again…..Also, if you would like to watch my very dark (because it was middle of the night with no lights on and I was crying very much) “You Tube” videos, please email me for the link and I will give it to you. I have them not ‘private” but “unlisted” …so if you have the link from me, you will be able to watch them. There are three videos altogether right now for this experience thus far. Again, my email is: jewelrymkr@aol.com…..g’nite luvs….

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Days #3 And #4 *(And beginning of Day #5) -Withdrawals from Fentanyl Lollipop


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Hi Luvs,

Ten years I’ve been on those Fentanyl lollipops for Breakthrough pain. My GP, Dr. Peter Bullach, kept on telling me “TRUST ME’….”NO WORRIES, you’re out of that hospital bed and out doing a few things now”…..he’d say “Let me be the eye in the middle of your storm”….well that all went to HELL when he decided to get into some kind of trouble for writing too many prescriptions while the DEA decided they’d better check into him and they clearly did because now he’s working at an urgent care in Jackson, MI “Med Express” on NW ave. Except don’t go there if you want prescriptions because he’s unable to write them…yep..”THOSE” kind….not anymore…I’m so angry I could just spit. I’ve never hurt anyone, never will and never wanted to…I always just end up hurting myself….I just wish he hadn’t done this to me and now I’m just whining..

So it’s gone through now Day #4 and starting Day #5 and today I went to the Univ. of Toledo Medical Ctr. and saw the famous Dr. Blair Grubb and his Posse actually! I had my pacemaker checked and saw Dr Beverly but she felt badly but couldn’t do anything for me really?? She pretty much gave me a soft hug and sent me on my way and told me that I’d see the Dr next time in just a few months. Im upset because once again they have those new “patient online portals” and they have half of my information incorrect. UGGH What is wrong why cannot they get things straight?? I wonder how much was wrong when I didn’t even know about it?  It made me angry and I want it fixed because I don’t like my information, my medical info wrong. I wrote a note and told them to please fix it!!

Today has been the worst day ever so far. I cried probably 90% OF THE day. I writhed on the couch and couldn’t concentrate on even my Iphone or computer or anything. I finally slept some when I convinced Craig to call my new GP and ask for Clonadine after I  had read on a forum for people going through withdrawals from something online. It says if you can get it , it may help calm you down and help with pain. So I tried that also now and it did finally help me calm down to sleep on the couch awhile tonight. Also I did not take the Dilaudid because it just keeps making me sick to my stomach as if it’s going to explode along with my body which feels as though it is soooo much on fire that I’m surprised I haven’t spontaneously combusted yet!! UGhh…this isn’t going to be a long one because I can barely eek out this one at all. But I wanted people to know how I’m doing and it seems as though they want to know and are interested.

So today we went to Univ. of Toledo Med ctr. to see my Dysautonomia/POTS /Neuro-Cardiologist and they just saw me in my wheelchair with my blankets over me for pain and heat as I go between freezing cold and wanting to blow up from heat and feeling of being on fire!! So they couldnt do much….I had hoped that they would do more but they just didnt.

Therefore I spent the better part of the day there, in the car and at home on my couch crying and writhing in pain and feeling so out of touch as far as feeling like I want to stretch and yawn and sneeze all of the time and feeling jittery and then I have ativan for that but who’s going to help me get off of all of this crap later?  The Pain Dr. said the Fentanyl suckers were “DANGEROUS” but how much more dangerous can they be? I’m on the patch all of these years and so are many many people. Its Fentanyl and its all the same. I’m not a drug addict and my body may be dependent but I’m still not an addict. That’s not fair when I never asked for any of this and never even took an aspirin for a headache prior to all of this !!

I wonder if my Dr’s received their letters in the mail yet? Maybe tomorrow huh? I hope that it at least makes them think and not hurt anyone else…Although they are so arrogant it probably won’t matter at all to them. Especially Dr Dobritt, he probably won’t even read it himself. His little teeny bopper clerk will probably read it for him and protect him from “mean and bad me”!!! Well starting day #5 now and it’s not gotten better but only worse and I will be calling the pain Dr today.and I want to ask him if there’s any kind of shorter or quicker acting pain relief that I can have because the Dilauded is chewing up my stomach and I am having a terrible time of it. I thought by now I’d be writing to you how great I’m doing and so happy to be done and feeling so strong! But NOOOO…intsead I’m feeling whiny and miserable, crying and in writhing and in pain. Im so tired of diarrhea and stomach cramps and not being able to sleep and when I awaken in the morning and now not being able to take that sucker, I have to lay there for about an hour to 45 mins. before I can even get up or try to get up!! Itfe feels like I’m getting up on broken feet that have glass in  them and they’re broken in a hundred places…then it feels like my hands just hurt and want to explodell Getting up in the morning is the hardest of all and I dont like doing it without help and my husband wants to get up early to go get me a Dilauded so after 45 mins it can maybe work?? But they are not working for some reason for me…I took them for emergency pain help for severe pain afer a fall or a surgery and they seemed to help…they just are not made for me to take every 3 hours…I cannot….IM not…what am I going to do??? We called and got the Catapress or (Clonandine) to help calm me and help with the withdrawals and the pain…so remember that one folks…try to have Ativan or Xanax or something like that along with Imodium or whatever you can use for diarrhea and also get something to help with nausea like I did. Now I had to get TIGAN because it was the only one that didnt’ interact with either the pain patch nor the other stuff i’m on…but the Tigan has not worked for me at all. It did not help my diarrhea instead it made it worse. It also did nothing for my nausea….just saying…trying to help..

Gotta go try and get some sleep feeling really bad and gonna start to cry again…love,suzanne xo

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The Beginning of the End…..And A New Beginning


Hello Luvs,

So here I sit, as I used to write about heartache, heartbreak and of things in the past, now I am writing to you in writhing pain as my Physician of 12 years just up and left many people in pain and left us out to allow fate to have it’s will with us. I know that I’ve written to you of late, how my Dr left and how angry and upset I’ve been. I wrote about how the pain Dr. that knew me in the past, right after my car accident in 2002, wouldn’t even see me or help me because of a “situation” and for no other reason. He didn’t want to be “involved” in a mess of being inundated with pain patients from this physician. I’m pretty sure some of them may have been unreal and faking their pain but many, like myself, have real pain issues. I think I told you also about the other Dr. who owns the practice and how he is very very angry at being “left with a mess” of pain patients on all kinds of pain medications and way too much!  This would mean, including me! My old Physician left, but in the past 12 years he was like a big “teddy bear” and kind and he had kind eyes. I never thought for even a moment that he would leave me “out to dry ” like this…..or even “to die”.  I don’t want to repeat myself, but I have much to say about this subject and I think maybe people can learn something from this experience. You have to stop being afraid, like I have been or had been in the past. Sometimes I am still afraid but I do my best to keep on going and not be afraid.

Back in 2002, I was in a horrible car accident. I was poo poo’d by the hospital called “St. Joe’s” here in Ann Arbor ,Michigan.  I had been on disability since 1998, for PTSD and CKDII.  When my disability was approved, they called my husband and told him that I “didn’t even have to go to their own Dr’s because after reading my several Dr  reports, they didn’t want to put me through having to tell my story even one more time. I was approved!”  I tried to get the nightmares and the fear to stop. I was trying so hard and the possibility of trying to return to my job at the U of Mich. hospitals as an Interpreter for the Deaf and as an Outpatient clerk III, felt like it just might happen one day. But then in August of 2002, a man ran a red light while fighting with his wife and I was hurt bad as his car T-boned my car and I lay unconscious on the cement afterwards.  I was out for about 20-30 minutes I was told. Then taken by ambulance to the hospital where they did some Xrays and put me in the ER for many hours and left me there. One Dr. was wanting his shift to be over and he was going to send me home. I had just been screaming so loudly during Xrays, that my husband said people were leaving the waiting area so as not to hear my screams of pain. The nurse that was assigned to me that night, I wish I could thank him someday in person. He saved me. When that one Doc was going to try to just “send me home” when I couldn’t even stand or walk or move without being in horrible screaming pain, he called a trauma Dr. She got the bal rolling and they admitted me.  But sadly, I still did not get the care that I should have gotten and they just let me sit in shoulder  braces for 5 days until my husband finally brought me home to take  me to some good Dr’s that might help me. At the hospital I was looked at differently because I only weighed 99 lbs. I was tiny and 5 feet 5 inches tall. I had been going through Anorexia off and on since I was about 17 years old. That is another whole story in and of itself. But I was still very sane and smart and not crazy in any way, shape or form. I was not on any medications, but I had been seeing a wonderful Psychologist who was helping me makes sense of some things that had happened to me while growing up and while as an adult member of my family as well.

So after 5 days of being NOT treated kindly and NOT being diagnosed properly, my husband was so appalled at the way things were happening or NOT happening, that he took me out of there. I ended up finding out that I had suffered an MTBI and several other horribly painful injuries. After 3 years at the Ann Arbor Rehab center for TBI’s, and after 10 surgeries or so, I finally know all that went wrong and I’ve had to go through many horrible Dr’s appointment experiences but I’d finally found some help. I met a great Brain Injury Dr. at St Joe’s and he helped me every step of the way. He was not on “My” side but on the side of truth and right and goodness, which was the same side that I always try to be on! I got help dealing with the short term memory loss and the difference in my personality a bit and I learned that I was now unable to read large books such as the “Harry Potter” series, but I could read Magazine articles. I am unable to still remember things that I’ve read. But when I’ve heard the same things several times, then I surely can remember them. I ended up having 2 screws put in my left shoulder because after a year of seeing several shoulder Dr’s, they all told me that I just had some “torn rotator cuffs and then frozen shoulders”. They kept on sending me to painful PT.  Later, I finally did not give up and found a Dr. to listen to me and he sent me to the Cleveland clinic. Dr. John Brems, orthopedic specialist, told me that he could do a “nerve and muscle transfer from a cadaver” but he then thought it might me just alot more pain for me and it would only have fixed one thing out of many issues for me at that time. My new shoulder Dr. though, told me that I in fact “was NOT crazy” and he had to go into my shoulder in an open surgery and unattach my biceps tendon (which had grown attached to the bone wrongly for over a year because nobody would listen to me) and reattach it to the bone with two titanium screws. It helped the nerve “zings” immediately and I was so greatful to him.

I was in the hospital for pain control when I met Dr. Bullach. He was a kind man and he had a kind manner about him. I had been seeing the other Dr. in the practice since 1986, and we got along great.  But my parents decided to go to him 10 years after I’d been a patient there and they started telling hem that all that I’d told him “was a lie”. He got confused and he came to me telling me that “they seemed like nice people and I seemed like a nice person and now he did not know who to believe?” I saved him the trouble and I left the practice. Only to return when I got afraid after the car accident. I came back because they knew me and had years of my records and I was in pain and afraid. Lucky for me, there was a new Dr there and I got along great with him so I switched over to Dr. Bullach for the next 12 years. He had no problem believing in me and he talked to my other Dr’s and Psychologist and I had a great team.  He always told me that he was “the eye in the middle of my storm”. I believed in him and trusted him. In 2005, after trying so many medications that all made me either very ill or I was allergic to them, he started me on the Fentanyl suckers and the patches together. It was only the 2nd time that anything had worked for my pain. With the pain Dr. I had been on a medication called “Kadian” and it was extended release Morphine. It worked for 2 years and then just stopped working. The pain dr. wanted me to get an Intrathecal pain pump. I didn’t want something else put into my body, let alone stuck into my spine dripping medication into it and being “dependant forever” on another human being to fill it. I decided to just stick to meds and therefore the pain dr stopped seeing me. He turned me over to dr. Bullach to just give me pain meds and said that he “could consult with him at any time and he would help”. That never happened because Dr. Bullach put me on the above 2 meds and I stayed on them until he left the practice in December 2014.

I had gotten a letter from the insurance company stating that they “would not be paying for my pain meds after March 2015 unless a pain dr. agreed with Dr. Bullach’s treatment plan.”  Well in December, Dr Bullach got into “trouble” and left the practice to go and work at an urgent care in Jackson, MI. He wrote too many prescriptions for pain meds for too many people. He over medicated too many people and I was one of them. I had no idea because before that MVA in 2002, I never even took an Aspirin for headaches. I never had pain issues before! I had no idea what was happening or what was about to happen to me.   Dr. Bullach just kept on telling me to “trust him” and “not to worry”. For the past 3 years I had asked him to help me go down from the meds i was on. I was afraid of being on too much and I was worried but he just kept on telling me that he got “me off of the hospital bed in my living room” and if and when the time came, he would help me get off of the meds.  Well, the time came and I had no control over it and he was nowhere to be found to help me. I was on my own and very afraid.

I went back to the pain Dr. that helped me for the 3 years following the car accident. He was good with me and believed in me and I in him. I was compliant and did what he asked and it all was good. But when I went back to ask for help after dr. Bullach left, he didn’t want anything to do with me!!! He wanted to sell me out and he saw me one time only to tell me that I had to go to be screened by another pain Dr. friend of his!  Have you ever heard of a pain Dr. not feeling confident in himself and having to send someone to a “friend of his” for a consultation? It made no sense until I heard him say that He really was “inundated with many of Dr. Bullach’s pain patients and many of them were just drug seekers and he didn’t want to be any part of that”.   But he knew me? I didn’t do anything wrong? I had only always done whatever was asked of me? What did I do wrong? I needed help and nobody would help me. I was very afraid and didn’t know where to go or what to do. I knew that I did NOT want to go and see his “FRIEND” …..after looking him up online, his friend was a “Dr. Malinoff” in AnnArbor who is in “detroit hourly” magazine and who gets “awards” for being such a great doc….in print!! But from what the hundreds of people wrote about him in many many reviews, I was not about to go and see him EVER! I read up on him at his website. He even states there that he broke his own foot and didn’t even go to a Dr. for 3 months. His wife finally forced him to go and he had a broken foot. He prides himself that he walked on it all of that time without even a pain pill! He had surgery and he again prided himself on “not taking anything for pain”. He even said that If you wake up in the morning and put your feet on the floor and you don’t have pain, then you should be looking for your name in the obituaries!!! I won’t quote that because he said that his father said it and he also believed in this view. But I don’t like to quote things unless I have the exact words and I’m not 100% sure of the exact wording, but this is truly what he said on his website and you can find it for yourself just by looking him up in Ann Arbor,MI.

Now, I have always been a person who never drank or took any drugs of any kind. I was NOT going to see this Dr. who I had read about and heard about from other pain patients that I admire and trust; when what I’d heard was very bad practice. He takes peoples medications away from them and puts them on Suboxone or Methadone right away. You are not even looked at as an individual and to see what might or might not work for you. This is what I’ve heard and what I read at his website as well. I am a good person who never drank or did drugs or anything bad and there was no way I was going to be sent to this place and then to possibly be put on who knows what list and never ever be helped again in my life for the real pain issues that I have. Even the first pain Dr. agreed that “I had many big pain issues” and he was very sorry but he just couldn’t take any of Dr. Bullach’s patients on.

I persevered and I finally found a pain Dr right here in my own town. He is awesome so far and I liked him very much during my first visit to him. I will see him again in August. But he did take me off of the Fentanyl Suckers. He says they are “very dangerous and I should never have been given them”. He said they are for “end of life” and for those who do not have stomachs to swallow meds. etc.  He is keeping me on the patch and he gave me a different medication for my pain and I will be starting it “cold turkey” on Monday July 13th. I’m scared as I’ve gone down from my suckers from the 20 or so that Dr. Bullach had me on and now to only 3 per day. But it’s still a scary thing when I’ve been on them for almost 12 years and they are what has worked for me. So far the new meds that I’ve been trying to start taking a little bit here and there, are not working very well. I’m feeling very sweaty and sick and nauseated and my pain is not going away at all. No break from the pain like I’m used to getting with the suckers. I’m doing it but I’m scared and in only two more days, I will wake up and only have the pills and the patches. ….no more Actiq suckers and  I know I can do this but it’s so hard and it’s hard already and I’ve just gone down to a couple per day, how will I do with zero?? I guess we will all see very soon. But as soon as I do this all by myself, but still  with a new pain Dr. by my side and my wonderful husband, I will be sending out a letter to the one Dr. who did take over and help me until I could find a different pain Dr. to help.  Also to the other 2 Dr’s who refused to help me, they will be receiving a letter as well. One will go to  Dr Bullach, because he truly hurt me by leaving and not caring about me at all…and then the pain Dr. who was going to “throw me to the wolves” and didn’t care one bit either!

Here is a copy of the letter that they will be receiving: (I will post the copy of the letter next week at the end of the week after I know the letter has been received by the appropriate Physicians).  So watch for that letter, I will post it probably next weekend sometime….I look forward to you reading it…thank you so much…Please pray for me and wish me luck because I’m afraid and feeling awful sweaty and sick already as I write this blog today…sending Love, Suz

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Doctors Are Only Human….


I have been to too many Dr’s since my auto accident of 2002. I have had my share of good and kind, helpful men of medicine. But then I also have had more than my fair share of mean and inhumane and insensitive medical and osteopathic physicians. I suffered a brain injury in that car accident and had to go into brain injury rehab for 3 years following. I have a terrible short term memory, when I once had memorized my full address book! I had a photographic memory in which I could look at something and study it as if studying for a test. Later I could recall that image in my mind. Now I can’t do either! My cerebellum is injured and will not get better. I love to write and as for reading, I have to read, re-read and re-read. I then get frustrated and go back to re-read again and then maybe even another time. Finally, I may retain the “idea” of something in a book or an article, but that’s as much as I can retain now for later recall. I am only telling you that because I do remember how awful I felt after leaving a shoulder orthopedic Dr’s office in 2003, after that MVA. I had been to visit several shoulder Doc’s by then…and knee Dr’s and heart Dr’s and so on. I had yet to visit the Cleveland clinic but that was to come later on. This shoulder Dr. said to me “What part of “I CAN’T HELP YOU, DONT YOU UNDERSTAND? Is it the brain injury or what?” Oh My Gosh! I was mortified as was his office staff. I left in tears with the man from the driving company, who transported me that day, also flabbergasted by this Dr’s words. That man was definitely NOT a Healer. I’ve had many more of those awful things happen to me in many different Dr’s offices. But I didn’t give up or lose hope. I kept going until I finally found someone to listen to me. Someone who didn’t want to blame everything on the abuse issues I suffer. I found a shoulder Dr. who sent me to the Cleveland clinic and they agreed with his diagnosis. They had thought they might do a “cadaver muscle / nerve transfer” surgery. But then they felt that I had too many other pain areas and that would be a huge, major surgery along with only fixing one small pain issue. I was sent back to the kind shoulder Dr. in Michigan, Dr. Jeff and he listened to me and touched my shoulder in a certain way. He knew right away that I had besides 2 torn rotator cuffs, a ruptured biceps tendon. It had ruptured a year earlier in that car accident but nobody would listen to me. I had so much pain and so many issues that I was “poo poo’ed” by many health professionals; until I finally found a great team that has been helping me. Dr Jeff did a surgery to detach the ruptured biceps tendon from the bone and reattach it with 2 screws. It fixed the nerve “zings” and though it was a painful surgery after 2 frozen shoulders/adhesive capsulitis for a year and 2 torn rotator cuffs. Soooooooo…….
I just happened to be on “LinkedIn” very very early today. I could not sleep. Something was drawing me to this place I hardly ever visit. I mean…I’m in pain…I am unable to work. I do what I can to try and help others and selfishly that makes me feel just a little bit better. I am in pain 24/7 and to others, I “look good”. People tell me that I “look fine” and that I “look young” and that does feel good. Though at times it makes me feel less cared about and less listened to. I feel judged sometimes and if I complain too much, people don’t want to be around me. Even if I don’t really complain at all, God forbid that I answer that question that just about everyone asks when they run into us someplace “How are you?” Well, my friends….you are damned if you answer that and damned if you don’t answer it. You may talk too long, too deep, or not enough. You just cannot please everyone so please …please yourself. Say what you need to say and to only those that you trust. No sense going into a long history of your issues with people who don’t care or who may try to hurt you with it later on, right? I mean, even those that we love or those that we hope love us back, they get tired too. I can’t say that I blame them as I grew up with an ill mother. She was in and out of the hospitals all of my life. The ambulances came into our house since I was a tot in the ‘onsie’ pJ’s, rubbing my eyes in the middle of the night when strangers with gurneys were taking my mommy away and telling me to “get out of the way”.
So this morning I was reading and I found this blog here on WordPress . It is called “Musings of The Distractible Mind” by Dr Rob Lamberts, LLC. It was an awesome article or post. I subscribed to his blog and now I want to share it with you. I give him all credits for this post as I have copied and pasted what he wrote for you to read because it’s awesome and I think it will help my readers. Mostly because many of my readers are chronic pain patients. Some with RSD/CRPS, like me; and others with various other pain issues and a wide range of medical problems. I admire this Dr’s writings and I am not copying his work as my own, only posting it here to share it with you because it’s awesome. I give you his name and the name of his blog and the name of this blog post. I pray that he is flattered, but if he does get upset, I will do whatever he wishes. I only hope that it will reach and help many people. Here is HIS blog post from July 2014:

Dr’s Are Not Healers

It’s a seductive idea. We doctors possess knowledge and experience which can not only help people, but can save their lives. We get opportunities to be the right person at the right time to offer the right help that makes all of the difference. It’s one of the greatest things about our profession. It’s also one of its greatest traps.

I’ve heard many doctors refer to themselves as “healers,” as if we have some special power to bring about healing in our patients. This idea confers some sort of a higher status and originates, to some, from a “higher calling” to a more noble life. Again, this is a logical step, in that we have opportunities on a regular basis to help and even save the lives of people. It’s natural to believe that somehow the healing power comes from our touch, or even from our knowledge.

It doesn’t. I am not a healer.

Healing is what the patient does, not the doctor. As a physician, I am certainly one who can help the patient find a faster road to healing, but I don’t heal. I help.

Why am I taking the time to talk about this? Why get stressed out over whether I am a helper or a healer? I think that the belief in doctors as healers causes significant harm to both doctors and patients, and that getting a better perspective about the roles of each will greatly improve the care given. Here’s why I believe this is a topic that needs addressing:

1. DOCTORS OFTEN FAIL AT HEALING (AND WILL ALWAYS ULTIMATELY FAIL)

There are many patient problems that do not get better, despite my best efforts. There are countless pains I can’t remove, and many problems I do not solve. Even when I succeed, the success is always temporary, as a new problem will eventually come back. And if healing is our ultimate goal as physicians, we all are total failures, as all of our patients eventually die. If healing is held as our goal, we fight a losing battle. We are the soldiers in the Alamo, offering impotent resistance to an overwhelming force.

If I believe in myself as a healer, I will face constant disappointment and defeat.

2. WHEN HEALING OCCURS, IT IS OFTEN INDEPENDENT OF DOCTORS

My patient may follow my advice and not get better, or may disregard what I say and recover from their problem. My direction is imprecise and imperfect, based on my knowledge and experience along with what I believe to be happening with the patient. But my experience and knowledge may not be right, and my interpretation of what is happening with the patient may be inaccurate. Healing is something that happens in the patient’s body. It’s when they get better, whether or not I am involved in the process.

Belief in myself as a healer is based on a falsely high opinion of my knowledge and abilities.

3. PATIENTS WHO SEE DOCTORS AS HEALERS WILL EXPECT TOO MUCH

I’ve seen it. I’ve heard people’s frustration when I’ve told them I can’t fix their problem or remove their pain. They feel like they shouldn’t have to hurt, or that if there is something wrong it’s because I’ve missed something. These are the folks who buy the “miracle” cures pandered by Dr. Oz and other profiteers. They hear the promises of health and wellness from the media and are disappointed when we can’t offer the same.

By believing I am a healer, my patients will eventually be frustrated and disappointed.

4. DOCTORS WHO TRY TO BE HEALERS DO HARM TO THEIR PATIENTS

The pressure to find the “magic bullet,” or the unifying diagnosis leads many doctors to practice bad medicine. This is a pressure we all feel when faced with the powerless feeling some patients bring. This leads to the ordering of unnecessary tests, performing of unnecessary procedures, and prescription of medications that should not be given. I believe this is what drives many doctors to overly-prescribe narcotic pain medications and other addictive drugs. We don’t want to stand helpless; we want to do something.

To protect my role as a healer, I am drawn away from my training and toward the task of finding a miracle. In doing this I can cause significant harm.

5. TO PROTECT THEIR STATUS AS HEALERS, DOCTORS WILL OPPOSE ANY OTHER PERCEIVED COMPETITION

Doctors in the past have been held with reverence by the general public. We possessed that “secret knowledge” that others didn’t have access to, knowledge that fueled our healing power. Now everyone has access not only to all of the knowledge we have, but also to others who offer alternatives. This causes many doctors to aggressively discourage patients to research their own problems and to attack alternative providers. In defending their turf, however, they are giving patients an ultimatum: us or them. More and more patients are choosing “them” because of this and are rejecting what we offer.

By clinging to our power as healers, doctors have greatly harmed people’s trust in our profession.

So what’s the alternative? Does it really make a difference what we call ourselves as long as we practice medicine? I think it does. Now that I’ve got time to choose the best way to practice, I’ve seen that there is a much better alternative to being a healer: being a helper.

Yeah, that sounds all dull and boring, I know, but it is not only more realistic, it is a much better way to practice medicine. Here’s why:

1. BY BEING A HELPER, I ALWAYS CAN SUCCEED

I may not be able to fix someone’s pain, but I can reduce it or can help them get through it. Every visit is an opportunity to help someone, and once I have helped them I’ve done something that can’t be taken away. I don’t have to see disease as a foe to be defeated, but as an opportunity to give to my patient from my experience and knowledge. Even when patients ultimately succumb to death, I have many opportunities to help them do so with peace.

2. BEING A HELPER KEEPS MY PRIORITIES STRAIGHT

I don’t have some crazy idea that I have special powers. I don’t believe that I’ve been “called” or “chosen” to do magic. I just help people. My focus isn’t on me (as if my care was not a performance), but on the person I am helping.

3. BEING A HELPER KEEPS EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC

If my patients see me as a helper, not a healer, they will listen to my advice with different ears. I am standing beside them, not above them. They are far more likely to listen to me when I am offering help, not pronouncing my wisdom.

4. HELPING MEANS DOING NO HARM

The temptation to offer more tests, more procedures, or dangerous drugs becomes much smaller when I take the role of helper over that of healer. I don’t see a need to prove myself, and will consider the harm of actions much more closely. I won’t over-prescribe pain medications because I will see how it harms my patients in the end.

5. BEING A HELPER LETS ME EXIST IN THE INFORMATION AGE

Like it or not, I am compared to the homeopaths, the herbalists, the chiropractors, and the doctors on TV. When people embrace alternatives to the care I give, they are not necessarily rejecting me; they are seeking what they are when they come to me: to feel better and to lessen their fears about the future. If the help I offer is held next to the miracles promised by others, I think I will win. If patients are helped by others, though, then I should be glad for my patients, not upset about the success of my “rivals.”

We call what we do “health care,” which implies a relationship built for the sake of a person’s health. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to have a realistic view of who we are and what we do. I am not a healer. When I try to be one, I always fail and am always disappointed. I am a helper, and in taking that role I can always have opportunities to succeed.

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